Disputes With Builders
If you find yourself in dispute with a builder, reaching a resolution can be very slow, unpleasant and stressful. Your home is usually your most valuable asset, so you want any building or renovation project to go as smoothly as possible, without delays. If things go wrong, professional advice can help you ensure you follow the right legal process and get the dispute resolved. We aim to make the process as clear and simple as possible for you.
Our specialist team provides expert legal advice in different languages to clients who have been involved in a wide range of legal matters, including disputes.
How can disputes arise?
There are many ways that a dispute can arise with a builder. Some builders – particularly smaller ones – can be relatively informal in terms of their documentation. Their quotes and specifications may not give much detail in terms of the timings, the specific materials used and the quality of the finished work.
Common examples of building disputes include:
- Perceived delays in the completion of the work
- Failure to complete the work
- Disagreements over the quality and standard of the finish
- Defective work such as a leaking roof
- Not following the plans or designs agreed
- Leaving the property unsafe or not secure
As these examples show, a lack of clarity and formality can cause, or aggravate disputes with a builder. It’s important to get as much clarity as you can from your builders so you’re both clear on exactly what is expected.
You also have a responsibility to do all that you can to make the project run smoothly. If for example you change your mind about minor details after the project has started, this may have an impact. You should make sure that you put such changes in writing and agree them with the builder, so that they can’t be used against you as part of the dispute.
How should I handle a dispute with a builder?
Ultimately, a dispute with a builder could end up in court. However, there is plenty you can do before that stage to try and avoid a court case, which can be more expensive for you as well as the builder.
- Firstly, you should raise your concerns with the builder. Be specific and explain exactly where you feel their service has fallen below your expectations. If you have written quotations or a contract, refer back to these for examples of anything they have failed to do, or not done to the right standard. Put your concerns in writing in case you need evidence of this later on. Consider including any photos of defective work to clarify the points in your letter. Give them a reasonable time to respond and explain how they plan to rectify the problems.
- Next you could consider speaking to another builder, especially if the current one denies any wrongdoing. You may have spoken to other builders for quotes before the work began or you may be able to speak to one locally. If you feel able to approach them, they may be able to give you a useful second opinion.
- If you’ve had no response from the builder, or they have rejected your claims, it is best to raise a formal complaint. By this stage you’ll have most of the details already from your previous letter. You must clarify at this stage that you have tried to resolve things amicably but that this second letter constitutes a formal complaint. Include details of any losses, expenses or inconvenience you have incurred as a result of their defective work.
Following the above process will help your case and demonstrate to the court – should your case get that far – that you have acted reasonably and give the builder every opportunity to put things right.
As well as the above steps, you should retain any other documentation, emails or messages you have such as written quotations, agreed amendments or anything else relating to your project.
How do I get legal advice for a dispute with a builder?
Call us on 0208 1111 911 or contact us through the website and we’ll discuss your circumstances with you. The first call typically takes about 15 minutes and in that time we can usually determine whether or not we can help resolve your dispute, or we may even be able to advise on your next steps.