Q: We engaged a builder last Spring to build an extension onto our house. His attendance was sporadic, his workmanship was shoddy, and we feared the roof would not go on before winter. When we complained, he walked off the job and came back to collect his equipment when we were out.
We had paid for labour and materials along the way so didn’t owe him anything. However, we are now substantially out of pocket due to having to pay to get the shoddy work redone and the extension completed quickly by another builder. Could we go to court and claim against the original builder for this?
A: In February 2017 the government updated the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes. This is a set of rules laying out specific steps you should take to resolve a construction or engineering work dispute before you issue court proceedings. The rules aim to ensure that both parties to a dispute have taken sufficiently reasonable steps to resolve the dispute before taking up court time.
If a resolution can be found without going to court it saves everyone time and money. Further, if you have tried but cannot resolve the issue, the court is more likely to be sympathetic when considering awarding costs in pursuing the claim, for example court and legal fees.
You should send the builder a letter of claim containing your full name and address, his full name and address, a brief summary of the claim including a list of terms relied on and the compensation or remedy you are seeking, and details of any experts you have instructed to assist in your claim. Your builder should then respond, and a pre-action meeting should be set up within 21 days of the letter of response. It can be advantageous to instruct a solicitor with dispute resolution experience to assist in reaching a settlement this way.
This question has been answered by Rod Waters, a Senior Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194