Can I take action against my builder?

(11 Posts)
SwearyGodmother Mon 25-Apr-16 12:00:00

We had a chap in to do 3 weeks work for us, the first week was to refresh the kitchen (new everything except units and worktop) which he made a real hash of - leaving it unfinished, with everything wonky (which he said would be dealt with as part of the finish). He was due to come back last Thursday to finish/deal with snagging before moving on to the other works he was supposed to be doing here this week.

We had a text conversation on Wednesday where I suggested he didn't do our floor as the snagging list was quite long and I'd rather he finish the units etc before moving onto the floor (which he had already taken up) when he had time to do it properly - he was due to be in all this week so it's not like he didn't have availability. He asked that I send over the snagging list, which I did on Wednesday morning along with a couple of questions about what he wanted to do with the floor and haven't heard another word from him since.

He failed to show on Thursday morning and hasn't responded to phonecalls (both from me and DH), text messages or emails. And on Thursday we found out quite how much of a cowboy he is - he left a leak under the sink which somehow overrode the earthing of the copper pipes and every metal appliance in the kitchen became live - which we found out as we were getting shocks off everything. At this point we decided that we didn't want someone in who was dangerously slapdash and told him not to come back this week. Not that he has acknowledged this.

Having looked at the stuff he did here it's apparent that the snagging issues were not due to things needing a tweak here and there, they were due to him botching everything. How he expects kitchen doors to hang straight when he's put the hinges on at all angles is beyond me. We're going to need quite a lot of work to get the kitchen finished to any kind of acceptable standard.

The big issue is being a trusting idiot I paid him for the kitchen part of the project. I thought, naively, that as it was 1/3 of the contract there'd never be the issue of him doing a runner, and also hadn't noticed quite how awful the work was at the time. I know I'm stupid for doing this, I don't need to be told.

Can I take action to recover any of this money? I paid for the work to be finished, not half done, and am now going to have to pay someone else to get the work completed/rectified. I wonder whether we should let him in to finish the job but am loath to because he's dangerously bad, but am I unreasonable in not allowing him the chance to fix things? Not that this matters because he's ignoring me now.

Does anyone have experience/advice?

SwearyGodmother Tue 26-Apr-16 16:44:17

Hopeful bump?

Ragusa Tue 26-Apr-16 18:11:29

Do not let him back in to your house. And get legal advice! You poor things sad

Ragusa Tue 26-Apr-16 18:12:33

Ps you're not an idiot for paying a third. Stage payments are quite normal.

AddToBasket Tue 26-Apr-16 20:04:21

Yes, you can recover some of your money. How much of all this is in writing?

AddToBasket Tue 26-Apr-16 20:13:29

Here is what I would do.

1) Photograph every tiny little mistake (or big one). Photos are important.
2) Write to him setting out a) what you have paid him and when b) what this was for c) why the kitchen as it is is in a worse condition than it was previously and that no value or amenity has been added (if that's true, if not then qualify it - e.g. 'except the new lightbulbs') d) give him seven days to return to the property to complete it. Include the photographs.
3) Wait seven days. Send another copy of the previous letter with a covering letter asking him to confirm in writing on what day he will be returning in the next seven days.
4) Write to him saying that the contract will be void if he does not reply in writing within the next seven days.
5) Write to him, cancelling the contract and asking for your money back plus the cost of rectifying the work he has done.
6) Serve him with a claim

No telephone calls. No texts.

whataboutbob Tue 26-Apr-16 21:59:45

I would add that trading standards can be helpful (find them via your local citizen's advice bureau website) . They usually want you to give the builder a chance to rectify, clearly you don;t want hi m back and for good reason, so maybe give them a ring and explain the situation so they can advise. They also have sample letters you can download to help you phrase the letter to the builder.

SwearyGodmother Tue 26-Apr-16 22:05:07

It's all in writing - we have a contract and I've taken photos of everything I noticed. I'm not letting him back in the house under any circumstances. The work he has done has not just been shoddy, it's dangerous so he's not touching another thing. I've drafted a letter already but need to play with it to make it less of a rant and more of an explanation and setting out my demands.

Thanks, Ragusa for saying that about stage payments. I thought it was totally normal, everyone I've mentioned it to in real life has called me an idiot.

We've got guests due next weekend and I don't have a kitchen floor. At least I'll have a funny story.

AddToBasket Tue 26-Apr-16 22:13:41

OK, but do not say you are not letting him back in the house in writing or to him. You have a contract and you have obligations - i.e. letting him come back and fulfil the contract/put things right. Sorry, I know how frustrating that is but you will not be able to get money back at the same time as demanding he stay away.

swillows Wed 27-Apr-16 08:29:02

Did you pay him by cash or card? If card or online, is it worth speaking to your bank to see if you can take any action to have the payment set aside as a disputed transaction?

SwearyGodmother Wed 27-Apr-16 09:52:39

Unfortunately it was with cash. I don't have huge expectations of getting anything back but I want to try. I also want to make sure that he doesn't get away with doing this to loads of other people - where his slapdash attitude might result in worse than a few electric shocks and the loss of some cash. I feel some sort of responsibility.

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