Five years ago we employed a builder to complete a pretty major house extension. We had plans drawn up by an architect, who used his own structural engineer, we then gave these plans to the builder. Three years down the line there wastensive gaps appearing above bedroom windows and the roof was sagging. We paid for a report from a structural engineer who said roof had failed and this was causing other structural faults as it was now resting on the outer brickwork. Went to see a solicitor, now nearly three years down the line we have finally been able to establish the builder was at fault as hadn't built to plan (paid for a very expensive legal expert engineer to compile this report). Builder reports he didn't have insurance, despite telling us he did at the time of the work. We are at the point of starting court papers etc as he is just ignoring all solicitors letters (we have offered mediation etc).
My query is that our solicitors say we can only sue him for actual expenses and not for any stress or upset this has caused as it is a breech of contract case. I feel it is negligence as he wasn't trained to alter structural plans so shouldn't be doing so. We are so stressed out with the whole thing, because the house is structurally unsound we have had to press ahead and get the work done, however we haven't been able to secure a loan on the mortgage for this as the house is structurally ubsound (chicken and egg!), so DH has had to take all his holidays in one go to do the work himself, he is not a builder but has some engineering experience. The budget is very tight so we haven't been able to move out, we are all sleeping downstairs in our house 2 adults and 4 children (in fact my eldest is sleeping in a tent in the garden!). DH is working 12 hour days and because we couldn't afford the extra £5000 to have the house tented he is often up 3 or 4 times in the night as it has been raining in and he is mopping away as fast as he can to try and stop the only habitable rooms we have left from being ruined. The solicitor says we can only claim for 2 of he 6 weeks off in wages as really we can only justfy him needing a 2 week holiday in the year, surely this is rubbish, we have 4 children, shouldn't he be entitled to have the full 6 weeks to see his children and not to try and rectify this builders mess?
Sorry for the rant but I am just feelin so down now, and I have lost a lot of faith in my solicitors. Any advice would be greatfully recieved.
No you can't claim for your stress and inconvenience. You can only get that in contract cases where the entire purpose of the contract was to provide freedom from stress e.g. a holiday, or paying a solicitor to sort out an injunction for you, that sort of thing. A commercial venture like yours doesn't count.
You can sue for the cost of putting the house right and consequential loss. As to the holidays, I expect the reasoning is that your H would have taken 4 weeks in any event, so in fact he's only lost 2 weeks of wages as a result of the builder's actions.