Builder stringing us along - what would you do?

Discussion in 'Job Talk' started by HLJ, Mar 23, 2021.

  1. HLJ

    HLJ New Member

    Hi all, long time reader but first time poster. I wasn't sure where else to post this, but I was hoping to get some advice from people in the business about a problem we're having with our builder.

    My wife and I contracted a builder in October 2020 to demolish our old lean to and replace it with a 30m2 extension. My wife is an architect so we designed it ourselves to a high standard, with good and detailed documentation.

    Work was OK until we hit a snag in the garden. There was a sewer pipe that wasn't on any map that we were building almost up to. We got advice on the issue and it took approximately 3 weeks to resolve, which was agreed was neither side's fault. Work then continued and the builder almost caught up back to schedule. However as it neared Christmas (the original completion date), work slowed down considerably.

    Near Christmas we met with the builder on site and expressed our disappointment, however we agreed to a 2 week Christmas break primarily because he was going through some difficult personal stuff at home. It was agreed between us that after this break work would resume at an accelerated pace, and we received a new schedule showing completion by the end of January.

    In January, work did start off at a good pace. However, since then it's been getting slower and slower. Now, in the last month, we've had approximately 3 days of work from his guys, plus 3 days from a subcontracted plumber. Communication from the builder is also non-existent and we have to chase to get any information from him.

    We said at the beginning of this month we wanted the job finished, to an acceptable standard, by the end of the month.

    The extension is maybe 90% complete and done to a good enough standard. Now there's mostly just lots of finishing work to do, inside and out. Though there may be some additional expansive work (cavity tray) if required by the building inspector. We sent him a list of jobs we expect completed earlier this month. Putting in the cavity tray was in the original brief and his first schedule. The other big jobs left to do are installing 2 roof lights and putting on the external cladding.

    Throughout this we have received invoices from the him, but they have not detailed work done for that invoice. We have paid invoices promptly (usually same day), and kept good photographic evidence of work done. Additionally we have texts and emails to the builder regarding our varying levels of frustration.

    There is a final bill of about £4,500 that he said he wouldn't charge us until the job is done. However, to get things moving (presuming a cashflow issue his end), we offered to order and purchase ourselves two of the last remaining 'big' items - external cladding and rooflights, totalling approx £3,000. The builder agreed to this via text, and agreed that this amount would be taken off his final bill.

    Today, again, nobody has turned up and we're not getting answers to our questions. Our phone calls are being ignored and texts are being replied to both selectively and tersely if at all. We're at our wits end as we've been living without a kitchen now since new year and have only recently got heating back in half the house, and the time and effort it's taking to manage the situation is causing a great deal of stress - both my wife and I are becoming depressed, with the extension being a major (but not the only) factor.

    What can we do? Does anyone here have any advice for us?

    I've drafted a letter to give notice that we will cancel the contract unless works are completed to a satisfactory standard within 2 weeks (9 April). And if we do cease working with him, I've said we will find appropriate people to finish the job and will bill him for any additional costs incurred over what his final payment amount would have been - going through small claims if we have to.

    Does that sound like the best route forward? At this point we just want a resolution one way or the other - either he finishes the job in a sensible time frame, or we get in other people to do it. If we don't do something we're worried this will keep dragging on until the summer or beyond.

    The thing we're worried about is if he does come back to finish the job, he could do poor work, just to get it done in a hurry, that then requires fixing later (because he won't be too happy with us). In that sense we'd rather just cancel the contract and not give him the chance to come back, but we understand we should give him a reasonable amount of time to finish it. We think 2 weeks to finish is reasonable time given the jobs left to do, but we're not sure.

    Is there any other advice anyone has on this issue?

    Thanks very much for reading all that! I have to get something sorted, one way or the other now, as my wife is absolutely at her wit's end and it's affecting our work, our relationship, and our mental health.

    Summary: builder still saying he'll complete job, though work is glacial. He keeps saying he'll finish it but it's just stringing us along and hardly any work is done. 90% of job done. What to do?
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
  2. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    That sounds a sensible approach to me. However I think you will struggle to recover additional costs from your builder. After all you paid his invoices and given the expertise within your family there is the argument that you knowingly paid relative to the amount of outstanding work
    HLJ likes this.
  3. kitfit1

    kitfit1 Screwfix Select

    As your wife is an architect she should have been fully aware to have used "stage" payments during this build. With £4,500 as final payment you have left yourselves open to what has happened. I very much doubt the builder is going to come back with his team for 2 weeks when £1,500 is the only incentive.
    Your best bet now that you have spent £3,000 on the last big items is to pay another builder to finish the job and put it down to experience.
  4. Hager the Horrible

    Hager the Horrible Active Member

    His incentive should be his reputation.

Share This Page