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Legal action against New Builder


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Posted (edited)

Good morning all,

 

Some advice would be really useful, as we have a bit of a quandry. I have some experience in commercial dispute, but I have no real legal background.

 

In bullet point summary:

  • We bought a new build property from a national New Builder at the end of January this year.
  • We were given the option of purchasing lawn for the back garden with the property, however we decided this was bad value for money. We were told that if we did not opt for this, we would receive rotavated soil instead, ready for us to lay our own lawn.
  • We were advised that this would be done prior to legal completion.
  • We were then advised that this would not be done by completion, but would be done very shortly after. 
  • We discovered the soil was in poor condition, clearly not rotavated, with a significant amount of rubble and debris. No one could reasonably argue that one could lay turf on this.
  • Since then we've been repeatedly appeased by being told that it will be done by March, then April, then 'next time the grounds people were on site' etc. In summary, many promises of updates, but no action materialized.
  • We have made it clear that this is the main snag we want prioritized. We have chased repeatedly and have a strong record of correspondence
  • Since then the garden has become overgrown with weeds as a result of the fact that it cannot be maintained (we have actually notice a bug infestation as a result of this overgrowth). The house builder has confirmed they will resolve this too.
  • During this time other properties that have completed more recently have had this work done, and the groundspeople have been back on site.
  • The reasons we have been given for the delay have been predominately 1) it could not be done earlier in the year due to waterlogging (I dispute this on the basis that it could have been done, and clearly must have been done for other properties at this time) and 2) the subcontractor they use has been 'very busy'
  • After a significant amount of informal but recorded chasing, I have written a formal letter of complaint in respect of this issue, factually summarizing the problems, the nature of our complaint (breach of contract, being misled about the timescale of the work, and enjoyment of property is significantly affected), and request of resolution (to be put back into the position we would have been had the builder performing this work by the legal completion date). We have advised we will continue to escalate and set a deadline for next Thursday for a formal response.

 

Really my questions are:

  • Are we reasonable in now escalating this issue?
  • What legal pressure can we apply to the house builder to get this resolved?
  • Can we decide to perform the work ourselves and reclaim this through the small claims court?
  • A specific legal point - the garden has become overgrown with weeds due to neglect. We would argue that this is because the ground was in no fit state to work on (really boggy), though they could argue that this is an issue that has developed due to our neglect. I assume the fact they have confirmed they will address this anyway renders this point moot?

 

I'd be really keen to get some advice please.

Edited by PT88
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Hello, welcome to CAG. 

 

Have you spoken to any gardeners about the problem you're having? If you want to go to court then it's likely you'll need at least one other opinion. 

 

Best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Caggers who are expert on this sort of issue will likely look in tomorrow or Tuesday.

 

I'm sure it would help them to know

- how much money you paid for the rotavated soil

- who you are in dispute with (we might already have threads on them).

 

Well done on building up a record of correspondence.

We could do with some help from you.

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Morning, thank you for your replies. In response to each:

 

HB - The problem isn't really of a horticultural nature, it is that the house builder should have cleared the rubble and rotavated the soil. There is no dispute about the fact that this was their responsibility - they are in agreement. The issue is that they simply haven't done it and keep fobbing us off and ignoring our repeated request for them to resolve this. The weeds growing and becoming overgrown are as a result of the delay in the house builder sorting the garden. Again, they accept responsibility for this, they just aren't resolving this.

 

FTMDave - We didn't pay any extra, it was something we should have received as standard as part of our purchase and therefore part of the contract sum agreed for the property overall. I am currently obtaining quotes for how much it would be for a third party to perform this work. We are in dispute with Taylor Wimpey.

 

 

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Given they have presumably done this work for other properties, hopefully your complaint will now make them take you seriously and put you at the head of the queue.

 

If that fails and you do have to threaten or take legal action, given what you have - paper trail, promises by them to do the work at various dates, acceptance by them of their responsibility - I think you're in a great position.  You've gone the right way about this.

 

Let's do this.  Wait till Thursday.  Then come back here and if you've had no joy we can think about a Letter of Claim.  Legally there are various timescales which may or may not include giving them a final chance to complete the work before you do it yourself and sue them - I'm afraid I only have the vaguest knowledge of these but on Thursday we can "call in" Caggers who have years of experience with problems like yours. 

 

Very good idea of yours to get quotes for how much it will cost to do the work.

We could do with some help from you.

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Thanks FTM, that's very reassuring.

 

Since my formal complaint email I've noticed that the site manager has been in our garden a couple of times (we have a Ring camera that notifies and records footage when it's triggered), so I assume something is going on on their side.

 

Let's see on Thursday how the land lies (excuse the pun). Unfortunately the outcome I fear the outcome we're likely to get is a vague reassurance that they will eventually do it, which will not be satisfactory. I hope I'm wrong!

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Morning all. No response as yet. I appreciate its possibly they could still reply today, but track record would suggest its unlikely. 

 

Any recommendations on the next stage?

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OK, I'll flag your thread up to the Site Team and ask Caggers who are more expert to come on and advise you.

We could do with some help from you.

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And I got this reply -

 

Letter of claim stating the problem, promises made , what is required to satisfy and a time limit to correct otherwise its off to court.

Response required within 14 days in writing the builders intentions and by date.

 

A Letter of Claim doesn't have to be long - in fact it shouldn't be, it should be a few bullet points.  After all, both parties know full well about the dispute.

 

The amount claimed should be the amount the third party will ask for sorting out what Taylor Wimpey should have sorted out.

 

So when you get time post up a draft and we'll take it from there.

 

Apologies for one final point.  From how you've dealt with this it's obvious you're well aware of the legal process.  Unfortunately we also get people who threaten legal action, yet when it comes to it they wet themselves.  After that anything they threaten is just laughed at by the other party as coming from paper tigers.  So on day 15, if they don't get their act together, you issue the court claim.

 

Sending a LoC immediately after they've ignored your Thursday deadline will also show you're serious and they'd better move quickly.

We could do with some help from you.

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I would also advocate familirising yourself registering with MCOL (Money Claim Online) and preparing a Particulars of Claim in preparation should letter of claim be discarded and you are left with no other option but to proceed through court.

 

Andy.

 

 

.

We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group The National Consumer Service

 

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