When embarking on a building project, clients usually commit to spending a significant amount of money; firstly, in planning the project and then in the actual costs of both material and labour. Unfortunately, despite the large sums of money involved, problems frequently arise due to a lack of documentary evidence as to what was agreed to be done, by whom and for what price. Other times, there is evidence in support of the original agreement but things can change during the course of the project which means parties sometimes fall out part way through the project.
When misunderstandings arise, the first thing that usually happens is the home owner stops paying the builder and the builder then refuses to carry out anymore work without payment. When the parties stop talking to each other, that’s when they need to instruct a solicitor to give them direction, advice and guidance on what they need to do to resolve the problem they now find themselves facing.
A dispute may arise because the architect’s plans have been incorrectly interpreted, or there may be an issue regarding the plans or proposals drawn up by the architect. If you are experiencing difficulties with this type of issue, early advice is essential. It may be that something has gone wrong with a piece of bespoke engineered material which is part of the build process; in which case, it is essential matters are investigated early to ascertain how the end product is no longer fit for purpose.
ERRORS IN BUILDING CONTRACTS
There may be a misunderstanding of a written contract as to what was agreed, with the parties in dispute as to whether the contract terms have been complied with. More frequently, though, there is no written contract but merely various oral conversations where the contract terms are not clear and have to be implied. Regardless of whether the contract is in writing or is an oral agreement, as soon as a dispute arises as to what was agreed, you should seek independent advice as a matter of urgency.
NEGLIGENT WORKS/ POOR OR SUBSTANDARD WORKS
A contractor is required to carry out work exercising the appropriate care and skill. If he has failed to do so, it may be that you have a cause of action in negligence against the contractor.
When a client is unhappy, they usually stop making payment to the contractor who then often refuses to return to site until payment has been made. The parties are at a stalemate, and if there is no documentary evidence in support of how and when payment should be made, it can make determining the position more difficult.
The client has often ploughed large sums of money into the project by this stage and just wants it finished; however, they may not want the contractor to complete the job. For their part, the contractor may not want to return, even if paid, given the breakdown in the relationship. Either way, to bring matters to a conclusion, early advice from a solicitor is essential.
WORKS CARRIED OUT BY SOMEONE NOT UNDER CONTRACT
Even fairly small projects can have various contractors who carry out different tasks during the build project. You need to be clear who is responsible for instructing the respective contractors. Is it the main contractor subcontracting these tasks, or is the client instructing each contractor individually?
If an issue arises out of works carried out by a subcontractor, early investigation is essential as to what complaints have been made and what, if any, remedial works have already been undertaken. Seeking the advice of a specialist early will help you resolve your problem and give you the correct support and guidance to conclude matters to your satisfaction.
If you would like any advice in regards to building disputes, please contact Kathy Trist via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01392 477983 or freephone 0800 8840 640.
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