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Builder woes, need advice on how to resolve/what to do next

(31 Posts)
spydie Mon 09-Oct-17 16:17:12

I'll try and condense this as much as possible and try not to drop feed!

We started an extension 6 months ago. Project was supposed to be 12 weeks, we are now in week 25. We stupidly don't have a contract with the guy as we knew him, and clearly naively, thought we could trust him. We didn't have a defined payment schedule (yes I know!!) And have paid him throughout the project whenever he has asked/invoiced us. We have copies of original quotes, invoices and all communications (albeit some are text messages but still a trail). We have ended up paying more than the original quote and are/were fully paid up. We had a conversation with him where he told us we only had to pay him the cost of the work to the upstairs of our house, which has not started yet and that everything else was paid. We have a spreadsheet and have tracked all costs according to him, plus our payments. There is a clear discrepancy i.e. we have paid more than we should have and he is unable to explain what the extra amount has covered.

We are left with an almost finished extension, but one that still has window panes missing, plumbing to be done, electrics to be fixed, as well as things like needing fire doors installed. For the past 3 months we have had him turn up for an hour or two once or twice a week, and progress is just not being made.

We have today spoken with the plumber, who is being paid directly by the Builder, and he was told today by the Builder that we are going to be paying him the remainder directly. Clearly we are not as we have already paid the builder this money. He was also told that we still owe him (the builder) money.

So we are basically stuck - he has us over a barrel and it has gotten to the point where we cannot get any resolution through pleading/negotiating/whatever with the guy. We need the project finished, we need it signed off by building control, yet the guy and the trades are not finishing it (we can understand the trades if he hasn't paid them) and we have paid more than originally quoted. I have the building control inspector coming on wednesday to discuss what still needs sign off.

Does anyone have any advice as to what we can do? I need to speak to trading services, but I'm worried we don't have any recourse as we don't have a contract.

And please no lectures blush, we know how stupidly naive we have been!!!

guilty100 Mon 09-Oct-17 17:20:11

Ooof, spydie, mate. This sucks.

I would hot foot it down to the Citizens' Advice pronto and get some legal advice about where you stand and what you can do. I have a feeling the quotes and paper trails you have may count quite strongly in your favour, because I think a quote (not an estimate) can sometimes count as a kind of contract if agreed and accepted - but I am no lawyer.

gin and wine for you in the mean time.

spydie Mon 09-Oct-17 19:24:31

Thanks Guilty, yes CAB is next on list! Not trading standards, but maybe I ought to try them too. Just feel backed into a corner, we need builder to pay the plumber, and presumably the other trades, to finish off the job. Don't even know how we could get another electrician who would take on and sign off someone else's work.

Hitting the much needed wine, so stressed.

monkeyfacegrace Mon 09-Oct-17 19:52:45

spydie, from our extension thread, I hear ya.

Can't offer any advice and I'm now a full on alcoholic and hanging onto any shred of hope with getting a refund from our ex-cunty-builder, but I'm here. I get it. I'm comisterating with you. I get the stress, the worry, the anxiety. I. Get. It.

WhatwouldOliviaPopedo Mon 09-Oct-17 20:45:44

Gawd, that sounds stressful OP. I don't know what to suggest other than get some legal advice, but one thing that jumped out to me is that if you agreed to paid the builder with a view to him then paying the tradesmen he's sub-contracted, any issues they have with non-payment they need to take up with him, surely? Yes it's awkward and you might have to show them documented proof you've given him the money, but they need to take it up with him not you.

TeamRick Mon 09-Oct-17 21:30:54

I'm here in solidarity too Spy!

No advice but I have a very strong feeling we'll be in a silicate situation, we have been paying the plumber & electrician directly though! If my guttering gets finished I'll eat my hat!

From googling I did earlier on in the build I think you can pay another builder to finish & try to claim it back, all the letter stencils are on the CAB. Although obviously you need the money to pay twice in the first place!

I'm sorry, it absolutely stinks!

spydie Mon 09-Oct-17 21:40:36

Haha monkey I think I'm heading that way myself, along with developing a bit of a potty mouth...blush

Olivia yes, that's what we are thinking. DH has already told him we are happy to show the paper trail, bank statements etc. Plumber has said he believes us and is taking it up with builder, but it's not the point. We feel terrible that he hasn't been paid, but he's owed approx 50% of his total costs, so it's not even a small amount, we'd be paying 150% if we were to pay him, which we can't do. But that gets us no closer to him finishing the plumbing work. I recalled that we picked up the builder on this before, as plumber told us he still hadn't been paid... Builder told us he had the plumbers money (that we'd paid) in an account ready to pay him. He can't even keep track of his bloody lies....

So infuriating. Will get to CAB asap, I also have an employee assistance line through work that covers legal queries, so will try that too.

spydie Mon 09-Oct-17 21:45:32

It really does, Trick. Oh, we are going to do our guttering ourselves now.. . I'll let you know how easy it is wink

Yes the whole paying twice with no guarantee of getting the money back is quite daunting.

Si1ver Mon 09-Oct-17 21:48:11

Honestly, I'd start by taking the original invoice and attaching it to a strongly worded email confirming that you've paid the full cost of the build (with a breakdown of payments and dates made) and that your expectation is that all works are completed to X* standard by X date including the payment of all of the <insert builders name> subcontractors otherwise you'll be taking legal advice. I'd probably list all outstanding tasks as well.

Then I'd go to the CAB.

Sorry this is happening to you.

* First/second fix as agreed.

WhatwouldOliviaPopedo Mon 09-Oct-17 22:04:47

I would tell the plumber you're seeking urgent legal advice to recoup his money from the builder and to get the project finished. Chances are he'll feed that back to the builder who, if he's got half a brain cell, will be straight round to sort it out. Good luck!

spydie Tue 10-Oct-17 12:51:25

Thanks for advice ladies. We are putting everything in writing and are seeking advice.

He's been in touch with DH today to basically say he needs an extra payment to allow him to finish the job, how our project has cleaned him out etc etc. The money he is asking for is the quoted amount to undertake the work to the upstairs which we have told him he will not be doing. It is not enough, however, to cover what the plumber is owed.. . Needless to say we will not be paying anything...

We found a summary of remaining costs from him dated beginning of July, it's all there in black and white. At no point after this have we asked for any extras, and he hasn't raised with us that anything is going to cost more than he quoted. He's obviously handled it really badly, and has under quoted. But all along we have tried to communicate with him and keep track of costs and he's either lied or avoided us, not turned up for meetings etc. So he's only got himself to blame really.

guilty100 Tue 10-Oct-17 12:57:58

It sounds like you've got a builder who can't manage his own processes and finances! But you are on strong ground.

I don't think you can do better than to send a very short, very clear, entirely factual summary of the costs to date, and the payments to date, with a section "Work you quoted for, that we are not proceeding with" to explain the upstairs jobs. Keep it business-like and practical, in case you have to rely on it later on. And print a copy for the plumber.

I suspect he will see that he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

ajandjjmum Tue 10-Oct-17 13:03:39

Is he a member of any trade association?

5rivers7hills Tue 10-Oct-17 13:07:46

That happend on my parents extension. The main con creator wasn't paying the trades. The good trades walked off. Got shitty shit tradespeople in and that has caused LOADS of ongoing issues. Ended up having to pay more and more and more to get the build finished. They had a contract and was meant to be being managed by a god dam project manager who basically needs shooting in the knee as punishment for being so useless. The main contractor also lied about things having been done, substituted in cheaper materials. All sorts.

5rivers7hills Tue 10-Oct-17 13:09:25

I suspect he will see that he doesn't have a leg to stand on

It really doesn't matter if he has a leg to stand on. He has the Op over a barrel.

The Op can employ the trades directly and get the project to completion (more cash). She can pay the contractor more and more. She can get someone else entirely in (again, more £).

The contractor can just fold and restart next week as a new Ltd company. It's fucking bullshit.

Chickencellar Tue 10-Oct-17 13:16:18

I would look at how much work is left and what it would cost to finish the build. It's all well and good going to CAB or the county courts but actually getting the money back will be long and very drawn out if at all possible. As has been suggested it's would be easy for the builder to wind up his company and start again.

guilty100 Tue 10-Oct-17 13:19:27

I'm really hoping that doesn't happen to spydie, 5rivers! Fingers crossed that he's being irrational and a bit of reasoning will sort this out. The situation where it's possible just to fold a company like that is awful, really.

spydie Tue 10-Oct-17 13:41:05

I really hope it doesn't come to that, but 5rivers has pretty much hit on our main concern. Its going to cost us more money whichever way forwards.

DH is trying to negotiate with him. He's apparently saying he really wants to finish it for us but needs more money. However has said for the bits he does, he doesnt need the cash. Unfortunately we are not seeing much evidence of this as he never turns up. I'd be feeling better if it was literally just the trades in to finish off and he had done his bit.

guilty100 Tue 10-Oct-17 13:48:33

If it's not too indelicate a question spydie - how much are you down if you project manage the trades yourself? I know you shouldn't have to, but it might be easier just to take this on from here yourself. With my build, I'm project managing second fix anyway, and it's saving me around 30%.

It's worth sticking your ground and seeing what happens but if he doesn't respond positively, I think there is a point at which it can be worth a few hundreds not to have to fight??

spydie Tue 10-Oct-17 14:18:17

Uh, well it's almost 5k the plumber is saying he is owed. We've paid 11k for all of the 'plumbing costs' to the builder already.... And no idea as to what the other trades might be owed. I'd imagine getting in another electrician wouldn't be too much, but its whether they would sign off on someone elses work. We could probably get the window panes sorted ourselves, but the new back door is damaged and needs replacing, so we really need the fitter to replace it (which we are told he will be, and that its on order hmm) otherwise we are looking at keeping a damaged door or replacing it for 600odd pounds.

We have done loads of other bits ourselves tbh.... if you ever need a tiler, I'm your girl grin

guilty100 Tue 10-Oct-17 14:29:50

I'm impressed by your tiling superhero abilities! smile

I would be looking to know from the builder where the money you already paid him has gone, because from what you're saying there is more to this than just underquoting a bit. 11k buys a hell of a lot of plumbing work.

For the windows - have you already paid for glazing, or is the cost just fitting alone?

Electrics - it surely can't be that uncommon that a fitter changes half way through a build; there must be ways of testing a system for safety without seeing every bit of wiring?

spydie Tue 10-Oct-17 14:48:53

Well this is the thing, we've been asking and asking where the money has gone for months. We got a breakdown of everything up until end of June, and then this written breakdown of costs left to finish the project (itemized by trade etc), which we have now paid 100% of, less the work to be done upstairs which isn't started/won't be started. There was an amount left unaccounted for that he couldnt explain what it was for or whre it went. We do know he had another project that was overunning and the client wasn't paying him, so we wonder if he just used our money on other jobs and hasn't got it back, but again, speculation that gets us nowhere. We are basically going round and round in circles on that front.

We've paid for the supply and fitting of all windows and doors on the extension, all from the same company, that again was subcontracted by the builder. I have a feeling the reason we have had missing panes of glass for over 3 months is, you've guessed It, they've not been paid. But maybe I'm jumping to conclusions!

Be useful to see what building control says tomorrow as to what still needs signing off, and then I think we can start forming a plan to finish it one way or another.

guilty100 Tue 10-Oct-17 15:05:28

OK, so up to July all is well, but stuff starts to slip from then?

I wonder if you can get in touch with the individual suppliers (esp windows) where work is outstanding, explain the situation, and ask if they have been paid? It would at least give you a rough idea of where you are. With tradespeople where jobs are finished, it's up to them to take it up with your builder.

I have a horrible feeling you may be right about cross-subsidizing projects. If so, however, isn't that fraud? (I know defining it and proving it may be different)

How did you pay? If you used a credit card, you might have some protection?

spydie Tue 10-Oct-17 16:12:59

Yeah pretty much, although we were getting concerned running up to that point with the lack of clarity, hence asking for a full breakdown. The build was completed and was watertight (save for some missing window panes which are now boarded) end of June, it's been since then that things just haven't progressed. We don't have contact details or even full names to track down the other outstanding trades, only the plumber. Although we will certainly try!

We've paid by bank transfer, so no comeback.

Update is DH has agreed to pay the plumber 800 and he will finish his bits and then try and get the remainder of money from builder. We have uncovered drain pipes in the extension and all you can smell is drain smell basically. Builder is saying he needs us to at least go half i.e. 2k otherwise he will need to spend less time at ours as he'll need to earn money from his other projects. I mean, he did maybe half a day in total last week so im not sure how much less than that you can get. We are going to send him an email tonight stating where we are, whats been paid etc etc and give him a deadline to finish his work, and then take it from there. Its going to cost us more money but I don't want him anywhere near us, keeping a key to our house etc etc.

guilty100 Tue 10-Oct-17 16:18:27

"Builder is saying he needs us to at least go half i.e. 2k otherwise he will need to spend less time at ours as he'll need to earn money from his other projects"

So he'll pass the costs of your extension onto the next people??! Sounds like he has a whole system working there, the absolute git.

I think sometimes it's sensible to pay a bit of money to get yourself out of a hole. Totally understand why you don't want this guy in your home now.

Can you get in touch with Trading Standards and seek legal advice from CAB just so you know where you stand?

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