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kevinjplee

Does anyone know of an organisation that can help with a “Hearing of Adjustments” and subsequent Appeal hearing in the S

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has your appeal gone in? If it has then it has, but I do feel that it could have been more focused. Having read the various papers (sheriff's stated case and judgement, your adjustment to the stated case and the documents from the defender) I think THE issue in this case is what you could reasonably expect in the way of quality of work from someone who advertised himself as a professional "handyman". The key paragraphs in the judgement are 26-28. In 26, its clear that there is a distinction in his mind between a handyman and a skilled tradesman, and he follows this up with the assertion that you were looking for a tradesman's work at handyman prices. I dont think you can challenge the basic premise (a handyman isnt a tradesman), but the issue is just how much less you might be reasonably be expected from a handyman. The Sheriff seems to be confirming that its that much less that you actually got. I think your main bit of evidence against this is your surveyor's report. He seems to be critical that they were not called for cross examination (their only evidence being the report), but on the other hand "amateur diy" does seem pretty damning to me especially as amateur is defined by chambers online dictionary as " someone who takes part in a sport, pastime, etc as a hobby and without being paid for it. 2 someone who is not very skilled in an activity, etc. 3 as adj a unskilled or non-professional • liked to play the amateur detective; b for, relating to or done by those who are not professional • amateur dramatics. amateurism noun.". While professional is defined as "professional adj 1 earning a living in the performance, practice or teaching of something that is usually a pastime • a professional golfer. 2 belonging to a trained profession. 3 like, appropriate to or having the competence, expertise or conscientiousness of someone with professional training • did a very professional job. 4 derog habitually taking part in, or displaying a tendency towards, something that is despised or frowned upon • a professional misogynist. noun 1 someone who belongs to one of the skilled professions. 2 someone who makes their living in an activity, etc that is also carried on at an amateur level. professionalism noun. professionally adverb."

Equally, I think its fair to say that they authors of the letters of endorsement were not called as witnesses.

Basically what I am suggesting is that what you need to focus on is whether the Sheriff was right in his judgement that given the lesser quality that a handyman might offer, the defender discharged their side of the contract with the work that was provided. It does seem to me that everything else is detail, or an illustration of this issue.

What to do? You need to focus on the issue of what could reaonably be expected of a "handyman" and that the defender didnt deliver this, accepting that it will be less (or should be less) than a tradesman. Were I you I would be looking for cases where this is a central issue - bit of time on the internet for you there. You might also go to organizations that deal with construction. But I do think you need to offer the court a definition of what sort of quality of construction could be expected from a "handyman" (anyone who advertises their services as a handyman") and then align your not inconsiderable evidence to demonstrate that the defender failed that test in terms of what he delivered to you.

Some other things that you might need to deal with

 

  1. the defender raises the issue that if his work was so bad why did you keep employing him? The way to deal with that is to present the court with a structured and detailed time line of your dealings with him showing that you only became concerned some months later (eg the tiles started coming up only after the shed was built).
  2. you need to get it clear what you are claiming with receipts - your best guess wont do. You need a list, added up, with receipts attached as evidence - all neat and tidy
  3. the defender seems to be casting doubt on the surveyor's report - did he actually attend or was it based on photos/ telephone calls. If it was then :(. I think this is important evidence - less important than the definition of what a handyman should provide, but still important
  4. how much less did he do the work for? I think he got paid £1000 for the job. IF you had got a professional to do it, how much more might it have cost? Maybe get a couple of estimates?
  5. see if you can get accurate wind speeds for your part of the world at the time in question. I take your point (on the basis of you appearing at Dornoch Sheriff Court) that Kirkwall and Lerwick are pointless - can you do better. Remember its up to you to put the evidence to convince the court. In any event though, its probably worth making the point that the wind speeds are purely notional (at best - probably about as relevant as the wind speed in Glasgow) - especially important given the emphasis put on this in para 25 of his judgement

But the main issue is what you could reasonably expect from the defender as a "handyman" - you need to help the court to come to a view about what this is and to then use your evidence (MHA report/photos etc) to convince them that he didnt deliver this.

Last thing is dont assume the Sheriff knows all he should know - safer to assume he knows nothing at all (though dont patronise - just be ready to inform and have the evidence to support the information). At least that way you wont be disappointed.

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Many thanks SFU, your post has give me a new insight into problem.

Although advertising as a "handyman", the defender actually built his own house (pic attached) and since it was erected 4/5 years ago the roof has never blown off!

I accept that there could be a difference between "handyman" and "tradesman" i.e. if I wanted a top notch brick built structure with detailed finishing, then I would have had to engage a "tradesman".

All I wanted though was a waterproof block built shed, and surely if defender thought that this was beyond me then he should not have accepted job.

He quoted for job and despite comments from S.C.A.B. person there was no haggling over price.

The Sheriff relied on a figure produced by the defender of £4/5000 for a similar shed. This figure was obtained by the defender calling out a medium size Thurso based, building company for an estimate on erecting a shed at his Mother in Laws house. There is no doubt that this would have been a much better shed, but to show the other side of the coin, I could have bought a timber shed from B&Q for about £500, which would have been more robust than the one erected by defender.

In his adverts he also states that he is a “kitchen and bathroom fitter” surely these roles require a certain amount of skill for the tiling requirements, again these skills were neglected when the defender did the tiling at my property. The Sheriff barely mentioned this aspect of claim.

I have looked before to see what entails being a “handyman” but it is such a grey area with different sites providing different criteria as to what skills, or lack of skills are required. Wikipedia offers a list at the bottom of page: Handyman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia looking through this list, all elements of the work the defender did for me are mentioned but I agree that your average “White van man” would lack a lot of the skills listed.

I will take your advice and trawl internet to see if I can get more specific examples of similar cases.

I do have examples of what you suggest at bottom of post such as final invoices, local weather records.

Once again, many thanks for your very informative post, will keep you advised.

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Many thanks SFU, your post has give me a new insight into problem.

Although advertising as a "handyman", the defender actually built his own house (pic attached) and since it was erected 4/5 years ago the roof has never blown off!

I accept that there could be a difference between "handyman" and "tradesman" i.e. if I wanted a top notch brick built structure with detailed finishing, then I would have had to engage a "tradesman".

All I wanted though was a waterproof block built shed, and surely if defender thought that this was beyond me then he should not have accepted job.

He quoted for job and despite comments from S.C.A.B. person there was no haggling over price.

The Sheriff relied on a figure produced by the defender of £4/5000 for a similar shed. This figure was obtained by the defender calling out a medium size Thurso based, building company for an estimate on erecting a shed at his Mother in Laws house. There is no doubt that this would have been a much better shed, but to show the other side of the coin, I could have bought a timber shed from B&Q for about £500, which would have been more robust than the one erected by defender.

In his adverts he also states that he is a “kitchen and bathroom fitter” surely these roles require a certain amount of skill for the tiling requirements, again these skills were neglected when the defender did the tiling at my property. The Sheriff barely mentioned this aspect of claim.

I have looked before to see what entails being a “handyman” but it is such a grey area with different sites providing different criteria as to what skills, or lack of skills are required. Wikipedia offers a list at the bottom of page: Handyman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia looking through this list, all elements of the work the defender did for me are mentioned but I agree that your average “White van man” would lack a lot of the skills listed.

I will take your advice and trawl internet to see if I can get more specific examples of similar cases.

I do have examples of what you suggest at bottom of post such as final invoices, local weather records.

Once again, many thanks for your very informative post, will keep you advised.

 

And don't forget that Sheriff's are and only ever do, look for meanings in the ordinary dictionary,

 

You've got some good sound advice from SFU,

:) Good Luck !!

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What I have done here is to copy your last post and make comments as it proceeds (in red type).

 

Although advertising as a "handyman", the defender actually built his own house (pic attached) and since it was erected 4/5 years ago the roof has never blown off! This may well be true, but at best its evidence for you as to why you employed in this first place. Little more than that. For instance, how do you know that for the more difficult jobs he didnt employ/ use specialist help (eg his "roofer" son in law)

I accept that there could be a difference between "handyman" and "tradesman" i.e. if I wanted a top notch brick built structure with detailed finishing, then I would have had to engage a "tradesman". You really dont have any option other than to accept that there is a difference because the Sheriff based a good deal of his judgement on this difference. Moreover, he seemed to feel - and I can only assume that this was something that came out in the proceedings rather than in the "paperwork" that he came to the view that you were after a tradesman's job for a handyman's price. That might be an aspect of his judgement that you might call into question. But I dont think its the core issue. That is, if we all (you, me the Sheriff) accept that there is a difference that one can expect in the quality of the job that a handyman will deliver in contrast to what a tradesman would do for you, then what you need to do is to show that, this notwithstanding, the defender didnt deliver what could reasonably be expected even from a handyman. I would have thought that your surveyor's report was good, objective evidence here though the Sheriff didnt seem that impressed. Was there a problem with this? If so, it might be a good idea to get a professional, detached, objective review of the work done and an estimate of its worth/ value. The surveyor whose report you have mentioned describes it as "amateur diy". What you might think about doing is to suggest that there has to be a difference not just between amateur diy and not just a tradesman (clearly) but also a handyman. This evidence has to be reliable - for instance, it would be as much a surprise for you to say that it wasnt as for the defender to say that it was. You would both say that. You need some external evidence from somewhere to make the difference.

All I wanted though was a waterproof block built shed, and surely if defender thought that this was beyond me then he should not have accepted job. This is true, but its also true to say that you chose to give the guy the job and to some extent caveat emptor does still apply. Did he tell you anything misleading in the negotiations to you giving him work? For instance he did build his own house which looks quite impressive. If he did not mislead then its hard to see at that point that he did anything wrong. Is he arguing this anyway? It would seem to me that you would have had to force him - coerce him even - to do the work. That would be very strange behaviour.

He quoted for job and despite comments from S.C.A.B. person there was no haggling over price.

The Sheriff relied on a figure produced by the defender of £4/5000 for a similar shed. This figure was obtained by the defender calling out a medium size Thurso based, building company for an estimate on erecting a shed at his Mother in Laws house. There is no doubt that this would have been a much better shed, but to show the other side of the coin, I could have bought a timber shed from B&Q for about £500, which would have been more robust than the one erected by defender. Again I am not sure that this is the point. You might have been able to get a timber shed from B&Q. And it may well be that a builder would have quoted 4 or 5 grand for a similar shed. The issue is whether the work that was done was "fit for purpose". The roof having blown off suggests that it was not. You would have to here quote your weather figures for the night in question. For instance if you lived in a wild part of the world (and I am influenced by the case being heard in Dornoch Sheriff Court here) then for "fitness for purpose" rather more would be expected there than where high winds are unusual rather than frequent (if not the norm). Was there any discussion to this effect with the defender? It is surely only common sense that a construction - and the price - would be tailored to the circumstances that the construction would normally have to face. Surely only a fool would build a construction that was bound to fail (and I mean either the builder or the customer)

In his adverts he also states that he is a “kitchen and bathroom fitter” surely these roles require a certain amount of skill for the tiling requirements, again these skills were neglected when the defender did the tiling at my property. The Sheriff barely mentioned this aspect of claim. One would have thought so, though in truth I know a kitchen fitter who brings in specialist tilers for that kind of work.

I have looked before to see what entails being a “handyman” but it is such a grey area with different sites providing different criteria as to what skills, or lack of skills are required. Wikipedia offers a list at the bottom of page: Handyman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia looking through this list, all elements of the work the defender did for me are mentioned but I agree that your average “White van man” would lack a lot of the skills listed.

I will take your advice and trawl internet to see if I can get more specific examples of similar cases. It is horrendously vague. Other things you might look for are "fitness for purpose" as set out above. You might also try duty of care.

I do have examples of what you suggest at bottom of post such as final invoices, local weather records.

 

Hope those few thoughts give you some more inspiration. Best of luck:)

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Once again, many thanks SFU.

One point which I feel I should make is that at time of his work we did not know he was a "handyman" and not a builder. The first time that we became aware of him calling himself a handyman was when we received his defence for proof hearing. He submitted about 6 testimonials from old customers, all type in same font, with same layout and all had customers referring to him as a "General Handyman".

 

he lives about 6 miles away from us and like us on the coast so he would have been aware of any problems the general weather would cause, even more so giving the fact that he built his house.

 

The reason that we hired him in the first place is that he lives on the main route into Thurso and had a trailer parked in his driveway with a sign on it advertising his services. I can not recall exactly what sign said but I do recall it mentioned plumbing and we had a plumbing job needed doing.

This job was caried out in an acceptable manner ( and is still OK) and I think it was whilst chatting to him whilst he was doing this job that he told us that he could do other type of work other than plumbing. I cannot recall the actual exchanges which took place but at no time did he ever say or suggest that he was not capable.

On all the jobs that are in question he gave price and we accepted with no haggling, indeed we provided some of the materials (door & windows) for shed which would have saved him the cost of purchasing them.

 

I have spoken to people who have had him work on tiling and he does not employ a sub contractor for this aspect of his work. It is a pity that these people do not bring similar actions aginst him but unfortunately they are of the "ostrich approach"

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I think the court might take the view that you should have known ("caveat emptor"), but a couple of things around that

 

  1. can you remember how he did describe himself on the trailer? From what you have said presumably not as a handyman? I think you said if he was skilled at anything it was as a plumber, so "any plumbing job undertaken with skill and competence" would be accurate (one would like to think), but "sheds professionally erected" might be said to be somewhat inaccurate
  2. when you paid him, did he never submit an invoice? How did that describe him?

I dont know how big a difference this is going to make, but you might want to make a point that he never actually described himself as ANYTHING much so the word "handyman" was dropped in for the first time in court. As I say, "caveat emptor" would apply, but at the same time this is real life and there are lots of business based on doing work in domestic premises (eg general builder).

Re picking up that he could do other things, while doing a plumbing job, "caveat emptor" remains an issue, and it could be said that you should have found out about his limitations - "oh you could build me a shed? What sort of experience do you have in that work? Have you been trained?" - that sort of thing. On the other hand it remains a fact that he behaved with confidence about doing the job in a satisfactory manner and this gave you grounds to expect the work to be reasonably "fit for purpose". It wasnt. Moreover, had you run checks on him at the time, what sort of "results" would you have got? Some at least - following what was presented in court - would be pretty positive.

Your point about him living nearby and in similar (windy?) circumstances is what I was getting at. If £1000 isnt going to buy you a construction that is going to withstand reasonable wind (or what could be reasonably expected in your area - and try to get some evidence of this - if not the actual wind speed on the night in question then perhaps the range of wind speeds over that year) then he should have known this, I would have thought. Building something that is practically bound to fall down is just not sensible, and no matter what his skill level was, its still his expertise that you are buying and that has to be more than your own.

But really what all this points to is that the main issue is whether he delivered what you could reasonably expect as part of the contract. Its interesting that he wasnt operating as a handyman - though it could be said you could have done more to find out what his skills range was (as opposed to what he claimed he could do). There is still the issue of looking for a £5000 job for £1000 - but how comparable were the two jobs? Is it two apples we are comparing here, or an apple and a pear? Know what I mean? But the main thing is his level of technical competence - was it amateur diy or was it professional handyman. Were I you I would be looking for strong evidence that it was the former - so its back to the surveyor, or someone who can give you an objective assessment of the level of the quality of work and what it might have been worth.

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Can not remember what trailer advertising said and trailer well gone.

Paid him by cheque but no invoice 9or estimate) ever received.

I agree your point about him not describing himself as anything, how many peoples services do we use without ever knowing their full capabilities, qualifications etc. and just assume that they are capable of doing job.

 

I still think the fact that he built is own house shows that he DID have building skills, but sadly for my wife and I he did not use them on our property.

 

We have a complete set of weather records from an independent weather station based 20 miles away, and Met Office records from their nearest station (Wick Airport - 40 miles away). These confirm our claim that the wind speed was nothing like the speeds recorded in Orkney & Shetland.

 

The £5000 shed issue is chalk and cheese, or apple and pear as you put it.

I am sure that if I had a shed built by a decent size building company then they would have used the correct materials to ensure that roof remained in situ.

We had NEVER obtained an estimate or quote for a shed and when we askked brian for a quote the figure seemed to be OK so we went ahead.

 

The reason why I never called the charted Surveyor to court was to control costs which I was informed that:

".. Should it be necessary for me to attend court in Inverness at another suitable time our fee will be £600 (plus VAT) per attendance and travel costs at 40p per mile (plus VAT) from Halkirk.."

 

As I had been advised that I could only recover expenses of up to 10% of my total claim I did not deem it cost effective.

Oh for the benefit of hindsight

 

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"I still think the fact that he built is own house shows that he DID have building skills, but sadly for my wife and I he did not use them on our property."

and that - my earlier point about you not knowing exactly how much of this he did do by himself (as opposed to bringing tradesmen in at particular points) notwithstanding - is really the issue. Did you have good reason to believe that he had a certain level of skill sufficient to do the job you employed him to do, and did he use that skill on your behalf?

"I am sure that if I had a shed built by a decent size building company then they would have used the correct materials to ensure that roof remained in situ.

We had NEVER obtained an estimate or quote for a shed and when we askked brian for a quote the figure seemed to be OK so we went ahead."

Could you get a quote now for the kind of work that he was contracted to do. It might well be more than you paid him, but if its a good deal less than the 5-6k that he was throwing about at the original hearing, it would at least limit the damage of the assertion that you wanted a 5-6k job but would only pay 1k.

"Oh for the benefit of hindsight" - VERY true!

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Never thought about that SFU, shows that sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees!

Cheers

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Kevin, the attachment only has your name and a reference to a font.

Got your PM and will try to have a look today/ tomorrow latest, but having teh original judgement to look at would be a help.

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Sheriffs Judgement in PDF format

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