Disputes with a builder

Julian cole portrait.

Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411

Email jcole@bsandi.co.uk

There is something particularly emotive about a domestic building issue.

A home is a sanctuary. When that peace gets disrupted by building work (everyone understands that some disruption is inevitable), the owner will just want that work to be completed as quickly, efficiently and professionally as possible. The trouble is that, quite often, there will be misunderstandings, miscommunication, and different levels of expectation when it comes to home improvement or remedial works. And these things make building works a breeding ground for disputes.

Many building works go to plan; a few even without a hitch at all. But it’s more common for there to be one or two – maybe more – issues. These tend to be around the standard of work carried out, deviation from an agreed scope, and cost. Some things are easily resolved, particularly where there is a good relationship and open communication between you and the builder, or where you have an architect or other project manager overseeing it all.  However, small unresolved niggles can quickly multiply and escalate. And that is why it’s so important to handle these things in the right way at the right time.

The truth is that many homeowners don’t have a really clear, written agreement about the work their builder will do for them. Some feel it’s unnecessary, particularly if the job is small, and not all builders are proactive in this respect. The problem is that if the work is not properly scoped and priced (and updated as things change during the course of the project) so that both parties know exactly what is expected of each of them, there is a real likelihood of something going wrong. And, where work has been agreed orally, or in sketchy terms, this makes resolving things much more difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

A dispute – particularly one that is not handled well – usually means delay. And this can be incredibly frustrating for a homeowner who just wants their home back. It can mean getting a new builder in to remedy defects, and trying to claim back that cost from the original builder. It can mean having to have serious negotiations over the original price. It can also mean arguing the points in court, with the stress and expense that come with that.

We have many years of experience in resolving building disputes, so we know how best to resolve issues – whatever those issues are, and whatever stage they have reached.  Dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration offer a real alternative to litigation, where things are fairly advanced. However, we often find that with some tactical guidance and a helping hand on their legal rights, clients can (with us in the background, or in the foreground) steer issues away from becoming overly contentious. 

For advice about an issue you’re having with a builder, or for advice about any aspect of dispute resolution, please contact Julian Cole on 01264 353411 or email info@bsandi.co.uk. We will be happy to help.

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