Practical Steps To Take When Building Dispute Arises
There are a combination of environmental and behavioural factors can lead to building disputes. It can arise from a situation which is not properly addressed by the contract or uncertainty of time and costs or behavioural issue.
Even when you have a contract, dispute may still arise where contract is poorly drafted and there has been disagreement between the parties due to time limits, payment terms, and unclear cost of the works or lack of understanding the conditions of the contract or where there has been variations which have not been agreed. It is important that both parties make it clear and understand what work will be carried out, how much it is going to cost and what happens if things go wrong. You should agree to make staged payments.
If there was no written contract set out at the start of the work then simple verbal agreement would be sufficient if you are able to establish the terms of the agreement proving what was and not agreed or subsequently been varied. In such cases it is important to have it recorded by email or text and approved plans, drawings specification and costs. We will do our upmost to ease the dispute with our expert conflict resolution processes.
Both parties must communicate openly whilst the works are being carried out. Organise weekly or fortnightly meetings (keep record in writing and send details to all parties). This enables any issues that arise to be dealt with immediately.
We recommend that grievances are put it in writing: Even if there has been little or no written correspondence between you and the builder beforehand, you should put your grievances in writing and give the builder a chance to respond. This may assist in showing that your actions were reasonable if the matter ever comes before a court.
For those things that cannot be recorded in writing this may be the best alternative. For example if you consider that the builder is behaving in an unreasonable manner or that aspects of the work/working practices are unsatisfactory, record what/where/when/who while your recollection is fresh.
Top Tip: Keep a daily diary of what work was done and how many people carried out the work.
Issues arise when there is late payment or a homeowner tries to withhold part or all of the payment as they are not happy with some aspect of work. To minimise some of the risk, it is best if all parties understand at what stage a payment will be requested by a building contractor and when payments becomes due. (This should be included in the written contract.) This allows a homeowner to plan ahead in getting the funding ready and giving a contractor certainty to manage cash flow and paying other suppliers. This also provides both parties with an opportunity to review the work at specific stages and any issues can be dealt with immediately.
Top Tip: Be careful not to over pay a each stage.
This may sound obvious but if the dispute is in relation to amounts claimed or the cost of remedial work, accurate details of the amounts involved will be essential. Similarly, if further work is required obtain a fully itemised quotation/estimate in relation to the work.
Top Tip: The builder will not give receipts and invoices for materials so keep a daily record of what materials are delivered.
This may be of assistance in showing defective work or the stage the work has reached. It may be particularly important to show the position the work has reached if subsequent work/alteration are likely to take place. Ultimately, however, it is likely that if the dispute progresses expert evidence will be required and contemporaneous photographs may be of assistance to experts.
Top Tip: You should attempt to discuss any disputes with the builder and establish a time frame for them to carry out any remedial works or establish a route for the issues to be discussed openly and record all issues in writing and give copies of all records to the builder.
Altion Law are specialists at advising and representing parties in a Contractual Dispute relating to a Construction Project. If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please complete our Contact Us Form, and we will call you back at a time that is suitable for you or you can contact us directly on 01908 414990.