When you’re contractually bound to a builder, knowing how to approach the possibility that they have not fully carried out their obligations can be tricky. John Todd from AMD Solicitors discusses the all-important first steps you should take if you suspect your builder of cutting corners.
Has My Builder Been Negligent?
Of course the first thing to do is work out whether your builder really has been negligent. If you feel that any of the following apply, it’s time to seek legal advice:
The quality of work is inadequate or unsafe
The materials used are substandard or contrary to those specified in the original agreement
The works were not completed within the agreed timeframe
The resulting structure is unsafe, unfit for purpose, or is not in complete accordance with the plans
The builders’ working practices are unsafe or contrary to relevant regulations
Their works caused damage to existing property
In order to prove that your builder has been negligent, it’s important to begin gathering evidence as soon as you start suspecting them of potential wrongdoing. This can include dated photographs of inadequate work or working practices, proof of purchase of inadequate or inappropriate materials, and any proof of written or verbal communication. This applies to all correspondence both before and after the beginning of the dispute.
If you have agreed to any extensions on time or any variations to the contract then it is very important to have written evidence of exactly what was agreed, when, and why. In a commercial setting where many contractors may be involved, this will avoid a situation where there may be multiple, conflicting points of view.
With mediation, it’s possible to resolve a dispute out of court if it is clear that your builder has been negligent. This could lead to an agreement that they will fix the problem themselves or compensate you for the cost of paying a different contractor to fix the problems. In the case of any injury or loss of earnings due to the negligence, the outcome can be a lot more complicated and is usually a matter for the courts to decide but still worth trying to resolve through mediation.
Unfortunately, proving that a builder has been negligent can be a complicated and lengthy process, however building work that has been poorly executed can have huge financial repercussions and a long-lasting effect on the integrity of your commercial or domestic building. This is unlikely to be remedied while the dispute is in progress, which is why it’s better to seek legal advice early and aim for a swift conclusion.