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Received Court Claim from Builder


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I have a potential legal issue with a builder - Is this the correct area to post?

 

To be brief:

a (project manager) builder quoted for a job 1y ago,

the job was never done

but he is now claiming I should pay him for his time to measure rooms and draw plans.

 

 

I have so far refused on the basis that the measuring and plans he did do were awful and I could not use them.

Without correct plans no other parts of his quote could be carried out....

He has now threatened me with legal action

- which I wish to prevent

- somehow.. which is why I am posting here...

 

To elaborate a bit

- The quote was incredibly vague and the cost for each job was not itemised.

There were a long list of jobs he would do within his quote and the whole lot totalled apx 3.5k

- but as nothing was itemised it was really unclear how he even got to the 3.5k total or if it would rise and rise...

 

He came to the property and measured 3 rooms.

He then did some drawings on graph paper showing those existing rooms and what he considered to be a proposed layout.

The proposals were basic and boring (my kids could do better).

 

He also failed to include 2 key areas that we had discussed

- access to an existing terrace above and creating a new basement below

- which meant his drawings were inaccurate and could not be used for any further planning nor for the council planning application, which had formed part of his quote.

Including these 2 areas make all the difference to my proposed building project.

For the record he is not an architect.

 

 

I took one look at what he had done and realised that I needed an architect to do the drawing/planning job properly;

not a project manager builder trying to draw up plans.

 

He however, has sent me a bill for 2.5k

- just for measuring and drawing up plans I can not use.

He is threatening making a legal claim against me.

 

There is no way that what he produced is worthy of 2.5k.

What he did do was a small percentage of the overall quote.

And as he got that wrong the rest of the jobs in the quote couldn't happen.

 

I considered it a pitch

- which was unacceptable,

not fit for purpose and I don't feel I should pay his invoice.

 

Am I in an acceptable strong arguing position to pay nothing and fight any claim he may issue?

 

Or should I offer him a couple hundred quid for his small time spent on the job and tell him to now go away?

 

Or am I doing the wrong thing by paying something for a job that doesn't merit any payment?

 

To be clear,

I have not gone further with my plans as I had to relocate for 1y which meant I couldn't oversee any work,

plus I also need to sell something else first to pay for the building work...

 

Any advice?

 

Should I highlight everything that was in his original quote?

Be good to have some feedback.

 

 

I am quite stressed by this situation as I really do not want to have a legal claim arrive on my doorstep.

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You can try to negotiate a settlement but he is entiled to claim for any work carried out as per your instructions.

It would be for a Judge to determine the exact amount.

Choosing the wrong person was your 'bad'.

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Chancer. As long as you have not engaged his services with a signed contract. He's nothing to legally claim for tell him to put up or shut up.

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Your first and third sentences may well be correct.

"As long as you have not engaged his services with a signed contract" is tosh. A court may well find there was a contract ; it is the terms of that contract that would be the issue. A contract doesn't have to be signed, or even in writing, to exist.

 

So, then, was there was a contract?.

OP, was there anything in writing / e-mail that might help establish if there was a contract, and if so, the terms of that contract?.

 

Your initial position might be that:

a) your discussion only called for a quote, with your option to retain his services after, so there was no 'consideration' nor intent to create a contractual relationship, and thus no contract.

 

If there was a contract, your position might become:

b) the drawing was not of an adequate standard, made with sufficient care and skill, to fulfill any contract, and the builder is in breach of the contract, and cannot claim any fee.

 

If you wanted the builder (and the risk of being sued) to 'go away', you might say

c) The builder doesn't deserve a full payment for the plan, as it was of poor quality, but to settle this, you'd make a small payment in recognition of the fact that they did spend some time on it.

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I would think that he is thinking that he has drawn up the plans and you have used them with anther firm to do the job.

 

Did you sign anything?

A qoute, although can be the basis of a contract it is not the be all and end all.

 

Contacts require

Offer

Consideration

Acceptance.

 

The offer is we will build this spec at tho price

Consideration is 3.5k

Acceptance.

 

You did not accept.

 

You must show that you didn't use his plans tho.

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Thank you all.

 

I never signed a contract nor did I agree in writing or verbally to his fee quotation.

 

Although I am wondering how it is perceived legally - to accept him to come round to the property to measure up - when measuring and drawing did form part of his quote?

He could not do any other job within his quote unless he measured/drew up suitable/acceptable plans.

 

BazzaS -

My interpretation of our discussions was that his quote was a pitch. Yes he measured up and did drawings - but the job went no further, so would my position be considered a) your discussion only called for a quote, with your option to retain his services after, so there was no 'consideration' nor intent to create a contractual relationship, and thus no contract.

 

But if my acceptance of him doing a site visit to measure up and do drawings could be considered as a type of contractual agreement - then would my situation be b) the drawing was not of an adequate standard, made with sufficient care and skill, to fulfill any contract, and the builder is in breach of the contract, and cannot claim any fee.

 

Be good to understand my position better, Thanks

 

Some more details:

The Builder –introduced by a neighbour - wrote a letter, offering his services 1y ago.

He acknowledged I initially wanted a fee quotation for works I'd discussed with him.

He highlighted the quotation would include drawing plans for 5 floors - he actually only did 3 floors.

 

He quoted a 'fixed fee' - which he wrote would be for: measuring, discussing options, submitting a pre-application to council (ND), submitting a detailed planning statement outlining the proposals in accordance with planning policy docs and relevant planning history of the area (ND), doing some initial simple building work (ND). ND = not done.

All of this he suggested would be £3.6k +vat.

 

I did not approve the drawings he did not - and could not - do any other part of his quote.

Yet he still sent in an invoice for 50% value of the quote.

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Thread moved to General Legal Issues

 

Regards

 

Andy

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so no contract formed as originally discussed although each side intended that a relationship would be created. This means that a contract can exist so go carefully

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I would suggest writing a letter to the builder briefly explaining why you are contesting his invoice - i.e. he only did a small portion of the work quoted for, and the work was not done to an acceptable standard and had to be redone by somebody else.

 

You could say in the same letter that you are prepared to offer him a couple hundred quid in full and final settlement of his claim, in order to draw a line under this.

 

You could also mention that, in the event a legal claim is brought against you, you intend to contest the invoice in full, and may also consider counterclaiming for the cost of getting the plans drawn up elsewhere.

 

The letter could be headed without prejudice save as to costs.

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  • 1 year later...

I cant believe it - but this issue has just reared its head again.

 

I wrote a letter a year ago basically contesting the builder's invoice. I never heard back. So assumed he'd given up.

1 year later and he has written - basically intimating he never got that letter - and saying he is going to make a claim via mcol unless i pay his invoice.

I guess he has had a bad trading year and wondering how he can raise some extra £s!! He's written and given 7 days to reply before he makes a claim. Guess he's also hoping we are away for summer hols and wouldn't reply...

 

I will dig out my original letter and will draft another letter.

In essence and to reiterate above I really don't believe we had a 'contract', it was a pitch that ended up not fit for purpose. Should I reiterate that again today? Or leave it bit more vague on the assumption that he will file a claim and I can write the full 'factual essay' in my defence?

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You agree he did some work in preparing the estimate/quote ie measuring up, travel time etc, which may be payable. I would expect most tradesmen to provide a free Estimate and perhaps incorporate cost in final quote, in the hope of landing the Contract.

I would wait to see if he takes you to Court before asking for detailed Invoice and hourly rates for the elements he claims to have provided.

A subs 'offer without prejudice' may give you the upperhand.

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I would suggest a short letter in response briefly setting out why you think he does not have a valid claim - i.e. he only did a small portion of the work quoted for, and the work was not done to an acceptable standard and had to be redone by somebody else.

 

You could also mention that, if a claim is issued, you will counterclaim for the cost of getting the job done properly.

 

I do not think the fact that you never signed a contract is relevant. Generally, if you tell someone to do work and they do it, you have to pay for it - you can have a verbal contract.

 

To be fair - it sounds like you did ask him to do some work and he did it - and you knew he wasn't an architect - so there may be merit in offering him a few hundred quid in full and final settlement.

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thank you for replying

Its a bit cheeky of him to wait another year and then give me a few days to respond.

I need to dig out all my files and old emails to reply properly.

Do you think I can respond very briefly to say I will address his letter within x amount more days?? ie further 7 days...

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All he has done is send you a new LBA, giving a date after which he may take legal action. It may also reset the recovery deadline for a furher 6 years.

Acknowledge his letter within his deadline, and state you will robustly defend any Court action, but you are willing to offer £x, without Prejudice, in full & final settlement.

 

 

Who decided the plans provided were inadequate, you or the Decision Authority?

Did you then have Plans redrawn?

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Have a look at this link (especially 'step 3'): https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/getting-home-improvements-done/before-you-get-building-work-done/

 

Have you done any research on this Builder to date? (i.e. do they have a website?, are they self employed or limited company?, etc.)

 

If they have a website are there any terms and conditions on it etc?

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Thank you Stu

Yes they are a ltd company

 

I also found a very worrying old article on-line

- they had been found guilty/ liable in court for just under £1m due to mismanagement which led to the property owner losing their home :-(

 

Many years ago and it seems that there has been a director change, a slight change of name with Co House and a new company set up 2y ago.

 

I think I am going to write a very brief email/ letter now.

As he is not an architect I would not have expected his Ltd Co to present drawings for submission to a Council for planning permission unless they were done by an architect.

I could not have submitted his plans

- which in my mind meant they were not fit for purpose.

 

I still have not appointed another firm yet.

I do still intend to do work though...

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The only trepidation I have with your defence, is that you must have known he was not an architect when you asked him to do the work?

 

So I think it is difficult now to turn around and say that you shouldn't have to pay anything just because he is not an architect.

 

To defend in full, I think you would have to point to some way in which he is in breach of contract due to his services not being up to scratch. For example, if he agreed to do plans for submission to the planning authorities but the plans are no good for that purpose, then his work product is not fit for purpose.

 

Do you think I can respond very briefly to say I will address his letter within x amount more days?? ie further 7 days...

Yes, that is completely reasonable and very normal. You could respond simply saying that you are considering his letter and will respond by xxx.

 

The Civil Procedure Rules suggest a response within 14 days to an initial letter before action, though that is not a hard and fast rule, and the rules say that a longer period should be allowed where necessary.

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Thanks for this.

I do agree with you - but his company website presents itself as a company with such talent/ professions. It is now a long time ago and I do need to dig out my notes, but I do remember this man - the project manager - saying that the person he had wanted to do the plans couldn't, so he had done them instead. I hope I made a note, or that he wrote that in an email somewhere.... i think he did and need to check.

 

I think you are correct to focus on the 'not fit for purpose' route. To submit planning application - or even pre-planning - it is important to show correct plans. In this instance, the drawings he gave me were incomplete, didn't contain all the floors and were not what I would have ever wanted a builder to build...

 

He emailed a quotation to me - but I went through each paragraph and saw that every possible job he listed was vague as to how it would be done, how long it would take and how much it would cost and there were a whole chunk of 'jobs' that he had not even considered. As a professional used to quoting for building jobs it became clear that he was taking advantage of my potential ignorance. When i look at his quotation and possible bills, it is really easy to see how the costs would have escalated.

 

I sat quietly, wrote what I wanted/needed to initially achieve, and then tried to figure out the steps to get to that point. I am not a builder but in a short time I figured what needed to be done. I also went on the website 'mybuilder' and got a selection of builders round to assess the initial structural work that may be needed. I found a couple of really competent builders who very quickly advised things that needed to be taken into consideration - none of which were in this potential claim builder's advice or quotation.

I think I need to start writing all these points down in case he does file a claim....

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That all makes perfect sense to me to me. Personally I would focus on the inadequacy of the plans you actually received vs. what you were promised in your reply to him, and in your defence if he does decide to chance his luck with a small claim.

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are the cpr rules on giving 14 days notice strict?

so what happens if the builder gives 7 days notice of wanting to issue a claim and then issues a claim at the end of the 7 days?

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We could do with some help from you.

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Thanks Andy

 

So 1 year with absolutely no communication in any format from the builder and then an email giving 7 days notice to pay a bill before a mcol claim doesn't really fit in to the cpr parameters...??

 

1y ago I disputed in writing and never had a reply. I assumed that was the end of the matter.

Then I get this email saying I must pay by x date or he'll issue a claim - because the invoice was raised 2 years ago.

I reply within the 7 days - copying in the letter that I had sent more than 1y ago stating why I did not accept the invoice and to which he had never replied - and stated that my reasons remain and that if he did issue a claim I would contest/ defend on the same basis.

Builder did not respond to that 2nd letter with any comments - other than a mcol northampton claim was received today...

 

So aside from now being obliged to defend his claim - can I complain about him not following the cpr guidelines in advising well in advance that he intended to issue a claim and giving the " at least 14 days" to respond?

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Not really ...whether it is 7 days or 28 days you still wouldn't pay it...nor would your position change...I assume ?

We could do with some help from you.

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Probably not!

So now I just need to sift through all my files and figure out how I reply grrrr

I havent really looked at the form - will do over the w/e - but do I need to go into big detail now? Or do I just acknowledge within a certain time and then wait for more court paperwork to file long defence....???

 

Ps - he never replied to my letter 1y ago. I made valid complaints. He never addressed my complaints. His invoice did not equate to the amount of work done ; irrespective of the poor quality of it.

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Which form ?

We could do with some help from you.

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