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Builder issues - advice please

(186 Posts)
JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 11:57:13

So all went well for first 2 months. Ahead of schedule.
Architect monitored and confirmed regular valuations.
Then any variations became very highly priced
Then windows paid for not delivered
Turned out when we asked for proof of order (given none appearance and cash in advance) than they were only just ordered.
Ditto floor.
Now the work on site has slowed to almost snails pace.
Only plasterer there today.
Only electrician other day.
Was forecast to run 6 weeks late a week ago.
On Friday that was revised to 8 weeks.
What had been agreed was that we would move back 2 to 3 weeks before completion and remaining work would be external or around us.
What best to do?
There are penalties in contract but it seems to have no effect.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 11:57:59

And given missing windows and floor we have not paid the latest invoice yet.

cheerupandhaveaglassofwine Mon 03-Nov-14 12:03:53

As long as you have only paid for work that has been done or goods that have been delivered then unless you want to kick them off the job and find another builder your best option is probably to stick with it and enforce the penalties if you can

If they are financial penalties for over running then you would be acting within reason to withhold payment is a penalty has been passed which covers the bill

Not sure on the legalities of doing it that way as opposed to paying it and having to take action to get penalties paid, but sounds to me like builder is struggling and using your money to pay other debts rather than buy materials for your build, if you pay and he goes bust then you will lose out

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 12:14:03

I don't want them off the job, I want them to do what they are contracted to do.
Problem is that the windows and floor are paid for but not delivered.
Yes. I think there is a risk he has used our cash to fund another job.
Work done is good.
It was ahead of schedule and well done.
Now so slow it has effectively stopped.
The delivery date for windows has moved more than once.
And no sign of them.
What is best way to get them re motivated and refocused? On our job not the next one?

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 12:33:08

Anyone got experience of how to get this back on track?
The work was great in early stages.
So disappointing.

cheerupandhaveaglassofwine Mon 03-Nov-14 12:35:38

Dont know really, trying to enforce the penalties may refocus them if it is going to start costing financially if they dont get it finished, but probably wont re motivate them and if they are finishing begrudgingly work quality may drop

Have you rung the window company directly to try and find out why the date keeps moving, same with the flooring, if it is paid for it should have been dilivered, if you start ringing his suppliers that may just give them a kick up the backside, afterall if he is robbing Peter to pay Paul he wont want suppliers getting wind of it as they may start to withdraw credit

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 12:45:15

That's a great idea re suppliers. Thanks.
Penalties don't kick in yet and are too small - in hindsight.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 12:52:56

If he had credit then we shouldn't have paid upfront anyway.
Wish I had thought of that one.
Didnt seem unreasonable to pay upfront for some supplies at the time as the job was going so well.
Truly I could cry.
Need to toughen up though.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 13:28:19

Anyone else got suggestions or experience on this?
Really grim so would appreciate advice?

cheerupandhaveaglassofwine Mon 03-Nov-14 13:35:25

To be fair most builders do want payment in stages and without knowledge of the building trade neither you or I will know what is a reasonable amount to be asked for at which stage anyway

The only thing you can do is break it down and say they are x% way through the job if they have been paid more than x% so far then they don't get anymore if less then maybe they are right to ask for more, but personally I would withhold anymore payments until windows and doors turn up

Also what is visually a half finished job may only be quarter finished if there is a lot to do once a shell is up and watertight if that makes sense or it may be three quarter finished if it is only getting it up and watertight and you are sorting the internals

Hope you get some joy with the suppliers and can prod them into action, and hopefully someone else may have a bit of advice to give as well

Last thought are they a social media savvy builder, would a Facebook post of why aren't my windows here yet when they were paid for weeks ago and why don't you answer the phone and get on with the work you should be doing, probably as a last resort but worth keeping in mind if being nice doesn't get you anywhere

ajandjjmum Mon 03-Nov-14 13:35:39

Sit him down and have this conversation with him (assuming it's a him!). Tell him that after a great start, you're really feeling let down. Ask him why you have paid for windows and flooring and the orders have only just been placed. Let him know that you're not a mug, and will ask awkward questions, even if you're not a pushy person.

You might like to throw in the 'I don't want to have to be in a position to consider penalties' - but bear in mind that if you have asked for any amendments to the work, it virtually makes a penalty clause null and void.

We had a great relationship with our builder, and his quality was excellent, but there were periods throughout the build that we hated each other grin It would have been far more stressful if we didn't work in a related industry, and were prepared to challenge him.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 13:45:56

Thanks both.
Yes there have been variations but we have an architect doing the valuations and despite the variations they were ahead on timetable.
Every invoice has been "optimistic" to quote the architect but caught up with work to invoice by payment.
I have no problem with staged payments but only for work done.
Luckily with the architect I am not guessing on something out of my area of expertise.
I did debate whether we needed the architect with a great builder on the job shock
This time it's gone too far as he clearly has the crew on another job.
Yes, social media has crossed my mind as a last resort. Nuclear option though.
Really just want the job finished.
It's all so odd as the area is small and it will make it difficult for him to get more work.
With social media the country is small.
So a meeting is required. Face to face at the architects offices.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 13:48:13

ajandjjmum - in prep for meeting
- how did you challenge best to get things back on track?
What sort of approach worked?
I just feel so let down.
And can't believe he thinks it's a fair way to do business or get more work locally.

LadyKooKoo Mon 03-Nov-14 14:03:14

Have gone through this ourselves recently. Builder started on June 9th and were told twelve weeks to finish. First 8 weeks were great and then slowed down to an average of 1.5-2 days a week. We had to draw a line at some point and last week told them we wanted them offsite and will be getting in others to finish. We still owe money but we owe more than it will cost to finish work and I am just relieved to not be dealing with them anymore.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 14:11:26

Oh no. Grim. Can imagine relief though at not dealing with this situation anymore.
Replacing them is what I am hoping/trying to avoid.
What happened? Did they go off to another job? Have heard builders not keen to finish what others have started. How did you get someone else?

MummytoMog Mon 03-Nov-14 14:25:06

We had similar - work fine and speedy until a month or so before it was due to be finished, then slowed down massively and eventually I refused to pay anything until my list was done. Still got stuffed on a few bits, but what actually got them back was threatening to make a complaint through the Association of Master Builders. They showed up the next day.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 14:33:44

We are 6 weeks to finish or per new schedule that has just arrived - 17 weeks!
Will check all builders affiliations he and his company have.
Good point. Thanks

MummytoMog Mon 03-Nov-14 15:16:50

Yes, we were three months over. Not including the extra three months it took me to get them to come and sort out the waste pipes. Shits.

HappyGoLuckyGirl Mon 03-Nov-14 15:22:22

Juggling - if you have an Architect, who I presume is your contract administrator if he's doing the valuations, then why are you paying for works not yet done or materials not yet on site? confused

A valuation is just that - a valuation of works done

ajandjjmum Mon 03-Nov-14 15:40:21

DH's comment would be 'stick to facts and don't let emotion get in the way'. What justification are they giving you for an 11 week over-run?

Ask the questions, and wait in silence for him to answer - don't be kind and fill the gaps (my usual thing!) Where are his team? Why is another project taking priority over yours? Is he giving you a level of professionalism he is happy with?

Our architect was lovely, but a bit of a walkover, so although we were in his offices, we were the ones who had to be tough.

It's not easy, and it's such a trying time, but hopefully it will be worth all the hassle.

PS. Maybe suggest that you will be deducting the cost of Christmas away from your payment, as clearly you can't spend it in a half-finished house! grin

HappyGoLuckyGirl Mon 03-Nov-14 16:18:25

Another thing...if they have over-run on programme then the contractor should be applying to the contract administrator (again, assuming your architect) for an extension of time. Without this then liquidated damages would be applied and per week, even if it's only a few hundred pounds a week, an 11 week over-run could be expensive for him.

Has your architect told you any of this?

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 16:28:52

Happy and Ajandjjsmum. Great advice. Thank you.
Advice from architect is that if we play hard ball he will walk off site.
He has effectively done that but left one man there.
I asked this pm re liquidated damages today! There are in contract.
But no architect had not mentioned it to me?!
I had not seen your post so did not know re need to agree revision. Will email architect now.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 16:29:19

Will try hard to keep emotion out of it but it's not easy.

HappyGoLuckyGirl Mon 03-Nov-14 16:33:48

If your contractor walks off site then he is in breach of contract - it's not as simple as him leaving and getting away with it!

You need to be asking serious questions to your contract administrator/architect as you are paying him to do all this for you. Why on earth he has valued work and submitted an interim payment to you for work not done and materials not on site, I can't fathom!

Obviously, this is just my advice on an internet forum, as without seeing the contract documents I can't really help you properly. But extensions of time and valuations/interim payments are all standard stuff.

JugglingChaotically Mon 03-Nov-14 16:38:12

It's a standard JCT minor works contract.
I have queried the valuation each time and we've delayed payment by a few days till work caught up.
The problem was the advance payment for certain items.
It all went so well for first few weeks ........

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