We're here to help Property Owner's with their building contract disputes

Property Owner Guide

A lot of 'standard' issues arise in relation to building matters, often based upon a breakdown in communication between the parties or a mis-match of expectations to reality. For very small projects, like the plumber coming round to service your boiler, most people do not worry about paperwork beforehand. However, the bigger the project, the more important it is there is a written agreement setting out exactly what work should be done and how much it will cost. We can assist at any stage of the process, whether it is at first instruction and preparation of contracts, at any stage during the life of the project or at the end of the project should a building dispute arise.

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Construction Dispute protocol - The 6 Steps

Construction Dispute Protocol - The 6 Steps

If you do have a dispute with your builder, it is important to follow the correct construction dispute protocol. Disputes arising from construction and engineering projects (including professional negligence claims against architects, engineers and quantity surveyors), should be conducted in accordance with the "Pre-action Protocol for Construction Disputes and Engineering Disputes". You also need to ensure you bring your claim within the applicable "limitation period". The complexity of your dispute will dictate the complexity of the issues involved. If it is as simple as a dispute with a builder for the cost of building work completed by the builder, your claim may be straightforward. However, as the details become more complex, the methods of resolution may also increase in complexity. Ideally you should read the Protocol fully, but life is short and you may have better things to do so here we provide a full 6-step summary guide to help you.

The 6-Step Summary guide

The construction disputes pre-action protocol can be broken down into 6 steps or stages, however unlike our Builder's Guide there is a very important additional first step.

  • Step 1 - The Contract
  • Step 2 - Letter of Claim
  • Step 3 - Acknowledgement/Response
  • Step 4 - Experts/Preaction Meetings
  • Step 5 - Issuing Court Proceedings
  • Step 6 - Instructing a Solicitor

The most common issues with building projects we deal with are shown below.

Are you employing a builder, architect, surveyor, engineer or tradesman to deal with works at your home?

We always recommend you use qualified professionals who are members of a recognised trade body. Most trade bodies have details of members available either on or through their website and you should check this information before entering into a contract. It might also be an idea to ask the trade bodies if they have received any complaints about the company, they aren't obliged to tell you, but it's worth asking just in case.

Have you been charged more than you were told the works would cost?

A lot depends on whether you were given an estimate, quote/quotation or tender. An estimate may merely be an indication of price and not binding. A quotation or a tender will generally be an offer to fix the price. If you are being charged more than this, often linked to a threat of removal of labour or demands for more money, you need to take prompt advice.

Do you think the work is taking too long?

Unless you stipulated time within any agreement, or it was made clear that time was of the essence at the time of entering into the contract, then the work should be done within a reasonable period, but what that is may be unclear. You should set out your concerns about the progress with the tradesmen involved and contact us if you do not get a satisfactory response.

Do you feel the work has not been completed properly?

You should consider asking the original workmen back to correct the problem, but may not want them involved any more or they may be refusing to come back, unless you pay them more. You may not be prepared to hand over any more money without seeing the results first. We can act as stakeholders to hold the money, giving you the assurance it has not been handed over, until you are completely satisfied and them the confidence of knowing the money is there.

For expert advice call us on 01935 823883