What to Do About Them
A building dispute, including all types of building disputes can happen for all kinds of reasons. When it does, it can be very disruptive for you as the customer. It can also be costly, especially if the project is delayed or requires remedial works.
The key to resolving building disputes is to take early action. There are some initial steps that you should try first. This could see that the dispute is resolved quickly, without the involvement of a third party.
Below are some common types of building disputes and the steps you can take to resolve them.
The Works are of a Poor Quality
If you feel that there is a problem with the quality of the works, then you will need to show evidence of poor workmanship. This may be as simple as taking photographs. Alternatively, you may need to get an estimate from another builder/third party setting out what is wrong and what they estimate to put it right (where possible).
If there are serious issues you may require an expert’s report. However, this is not a starting point. Rather, it is something to discuss with your legal representative, once other options have been explored. It may be possible for both parties to obtain a joint report to save costs. In the meantime, it is important to establish that the workmanship is indeed of a poor quality. Discuss this with your builder and ask that the problem is rectified free of charge.
The Project is Taking too Long/ There Have Been Unacceptable Delays
Check the agreement to see if there are any specifications clearly clarifying a timeframe for works to be completed in. You should also be mindful that if additional works have been discussed. Maybe unexpected problems have been found along the way, the project could justifiably take longer than expected.
Many contracts don’t clearly specify a timeframe for the project to be completed. In these circumstances the works are to be completed within a reasonable period of time. This definition can be open to interpretation however, and different parties can have different views on what this means. If it is important that the project is completed within a set period of time, then make that clear from the start. If this hasn’t been made clear, raise the time frame with the builder now.
The Builder Will Not Return to Site
If you have an agreement for works to be carried out, then the builder is required to carry those works out in accordance with your agreement. There may have been various issues along the way, resulting in a scenario where the builder will not return to site. Try and understand why this is. This situation often arises where the builder feels that they haven’t been paid, so make sure you’re clear on what the issue is. There may be a simple disagreement that can be easily resolved.
Has your builder presented a bill that far exceeds what was originally agreed? Gather evidence that shows how much was quoted at the outset, along with any other correspondence that indicates whether or not the price has changed. Unless your builder has informed you in writing, a hike in price may be difficult to justify. There are even cases in which builders have been convicted of fraud after repeatedly overcharging customers. Be sure to challenge the cost if it does not meet your expectations.
Professional negligence is when a professional person or organisation fails to perform their duties to the required standard, causing you to suffer a loss. If this has happened to you, you could be entitled to make a professional negligence claim. Such claims often arise in the context of building disputes, and may be made against surveyors, engineers, architects and other construction industry professionals. Keep evidence of your losses and, if applicable, take photographs of the substandard work. Then, speak to a professional negligence solicitor about your options.
It is always best to try to resolve all types of building disputes amicably without involving any third parties. This keeps costs down and promotes a healthy working relationship. However, if the suggestions outlined above fail to heed positive results, your next step is to speak to the building dispute solicitors at Altion Law. It is also vital to seek legal advice for professional negligence claims, which are a specialist area of the law.
Getting legal advice does not necessarily mean that your building dispute will end up in court. Instead, a solicitor can offer an objective perspective, confirming who (if anyone) is in the wrong. If your builder does have a case to answer, a solicitor can go about resolving the problem. Often, all it takes is for your solicitor to send a letter to your builder, demanding a resolution – be it remedial works, a reduction in price or the payment of compensation.
If the builder continues to maintain their position, you can explore methods of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, arbitration and adjudication. These are often very effective at resolving building disputes. If alternative dispute resolution is not successful, your final option is to take the matter to court.
Contact us now
If you are unable to settle your building dispute directly with your builder, then seek advice at the earliest opportunity. At Altion Law we focus on opening the lines of communication, giving every possible opportunity to resolve the matter. We are very conscious that any delay in building works may have an impact on your health, cash flow, general living which will only frustrate matters more.
For a confidential discussion with our solicitors, please contact us today at Altion Law.
Call us on 01908 414990 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.