Builder Dispute Solicitor. Are you a victim of poor quality workmanship?
Having Difficulty Resolving A Builder Dispute?
Having major works carried out to your property is dirty and exciting! Less so, when you have a builder dispute. We have seen it all, including:-
- Being paid and not turning up!
- Being paid and leaving part way through!
- Charging for materials that were never used (maybe for another job).
- Poor quality workmanship.
- Wrong fittings used.
- Failing to comply with building regulations.
- Causing damage to the property.
How Do I Deal With A Building Dispute?
As Builder Dispute Solicitors, we know that having evidence is essential to prove your claim. You must do this in order to recover the cost of putting things right.
You should always try to deal with things amicably. Take plenty of photographs if necessary. Make sure you have evidence of payments. Although cash may be tempting, it’s always best to pay by bank transfer so you can avoid any suggestion that you did not pay. That way you can keep tabs on what you have paid.
Hold back the final payment until any snagging issues are resolved. After speaking with the builder, always follow up with an e-mail setting out what was discussed and how it will be resolved.
Having a contract in place is always a good idea on a major project. It should set out payment schedules, deadlines and also include penalties. If you can afford it, get your architect to project manage. It is also worth seeing how long the work is guaranteed for.
If things cannot be resolved, you may need to consider court proceedings. Representing yourself in court in a builder dispute claim, can be stressful. With the current cost of court fees and the small claims limit set at £10,000 for property claims, you may be thinking of doing it yourself and acting as a Litigant in Person. It is worth speaking to a builder dispute solicitor for some guidance. This will often be free advice.
Judges are required to give some limited guidance and assistance to a Litigant in Person whilst in court. The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary have published a handbook to help Litigants in Person. Nonetheless, choosing to act as a Litigant in Person can be bit of a legal minefield for most lay people. Particularly if the other party is represented.
The Pitfalls Of Acting As A Litigant In Person
As expert building Dispute Solicitors, we have seen the following common mistakes made by Litigants in Person:
- Failing to properly clarify their claim in court pleadings.
- Not meeting court deadlines (which can lead to a claim being dismissed).
- Preparing witness statements that do not deal with all the issues.
- Failing to gather the correct or enough evidence to support a claim.
- Not knowing how to present a matter at trial.
- Not knowing what questions to ask at court.
During a recent Radio 4 Moneybox Live programme, a number of callers, who had acted as a Litigant in Person said they would never do it again. One caller suggested that if anyone told him they intended to act as a Litigant in Person he would tell them to “nail their shoes to the kitchen floor, lace them up and bar the door!”
The key message from this discussion was the benefit of obtaining early advice from a Solicitor in any dispute could not be underestimated
What value can a Solicitor bring?
As experts in gathering and presenting claims we are more than happy to have a chat (free of charge) to help guide you on what needs to be done and how best to present a claim. Sometimes, guidance may not be enough if it gets too technical and it may be better to instruct.
We have represented a number of clients involved in contractual disputes over poor workmanship by building contractors.
One recent case involved a homeowner, who decided to act as a Litigants in Person. Just five weeks before trial, he sought legal advice from us after he started to feel out of his depths as had did not know how to prepare for his hearing.
On reviewing his claim, it was clear that he had not drafted his claim very well. The defendant builder had solicitors representing him. In the Defence document, they invited the court to strike out our client’s claim because it did not clearly set out the nature of the defects. On reviewing our client’s evidence, it was clear that his claim was in fact worth more that the £5880 that he was asking for.
The Court agreed to our request to adjourn the trial so that the extent of the claim could be clarified and properly pleaded. Independent expert evidence was obtained to support the poor workmanship.
The expert found several defects that our client was not even aware of.
The defendant also chose to get a report from an independent expert.
Unfortunately for the builder, that report also found that the work was carried out to a very poor standard. The claim settled soon afterwards.
The end result was that the claim was settled for £28,600 plus our client was awarded his costs.
So, not only did he recover significantly more than he was expecting, he did not have the stress of navigating the system. Now that’s how to add value.
We do understand that not everyone can afford to pay legal fees for representation. However, we are more than happy to have a no-obligation chat with you to discuss your situation.
We can provide some guidance, and it may be that we can also add significant value. Click HERE > to read more about how we can help individuals.