Anyone brought a builder to small claims court?

13
Found 19th Oct 2015
I've had a great deal of trouble with my builder. Months of delays, and now it seems like he's not done the work properly, leaving me with an awkward kitchen setup as I wait for the plumbing to be sorted. I just need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyone been through something similar?
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Do you mind me asking how much you paid for the work to be done? your best bet would be to speak to Citizens Advice first as a starting point.
Do you have actual proof of what he was asked to do and what he actually did? Has he left work unfinished or in a dangerous condition? Was he told (written or emailed) and given chance to rectify any problems? It's really down to what you can prove by evidence; photographic, written or emailed.Getting the work assessed by an independent builder would help but that would involve additional cost on your part, and that report may not agree fully with you. It will cost you to issue the claim, the builder may defend or even counter claim if you have not paid him in full, you'll get in front of a judge who will listen to both sides and then, in all probability, send the pair of you out to negotiate a settlement. You may find the builder fails to defend or even attend the hearing, then you may get judgment against him .....then he'll apply to have it set aside.....shall I go on? And after all that you then have to try and get him to pay any judgment awarded to you plus relevant costs. None of this takes into account the time it will take to fill in the paperwork, issue the claim, get a hearing date(s) and time off work to attend the court.
Edited by: "booky" 20th Oct 2015
Don't waste your time, small claims courts are worthless for chasing money from the likes of builders.
even if you take him to court and win your case he may go bust and start up the next day with a new name and carry on as though nothings happened.so you could be throwing good money after bad
Original Poster
FTCom

Do you mind me asking how much you paid for the work to be done? your … Do you mind me asking how much you paid for the work to be done? your best bet would be to speak to Citizens Advice first as a starting point.


Quoted £3,400. Had additional works to remove an old fireplace and also run electrics in the kitchen, so ended up paying £3,900. He wanted £4,300 but I refuted it as a lot of them were for extras that were already in the architect's and structural engineer's plans

EDIT: Should add that this was the cost of converting the traditional recess space in tenement flats. Removing load bearing wall, installing RSJ beam, putting up a stud partition, running electrics, hot/cold/waste pipes for new kitchen area, running gas to new kitchen, disposal of waste.

Also already spoken to Citizens Advice, they said to write him a recorded delivery letter, which I already did, though only to highlight why I wasn't liable for the extras he was claiming for and not with regards to the plumbing which is something I only recently discovered was a problem.
Edited by: "deeyap" 20th Oct 2015
Original Poster
booky

Do you have actual proof of what he was asked to do and what he actually … Do you have actual proof of what he was asked to do and what he actually did? Has he left work unfinished or in a dangerous condition? Was he told (written or emailed) and given chance to rectify any problems? It's really down to what you can prove by evidence; photographic, written or emailed.Getting the work assessed by an independent builder would help but that would involve additional cost on your part, and that report may not agree fully with you. It will cost you to issue the claim, the builder may defend or even counter claim if you have not paid him in full, you'll get in front of a judge who will listen to both sides and then, in all probability, send the pair of you out to negotiate a settlement. You may find the builder fails to defend or even attend the hearing, then you may get judgment against him .....then he'll apply to have it set aside.....shall I go on? And after all that you then have to try and get him to pay any judgment awarded to you plus relevant costs. None of this takes into account the time it will take to fill in the paperwork, issue the claim, get a hearing date(s) and time off work to attend the court.


this sounds like a right hassle. Could he refuse to show up in court? What happens in such a situation?

Yes the job was supposed to be to specification i.e. based on architect's and structural engineer's drawings. These plans specified where the plumbing was supposed to run - out of the building and to have its own pipe connecting to the main downpipe. He's tried to get it to hook up it an existing downpipe connection, which means two sinks and a dishwasher will be going to the waste pipe.

On top of that the work encountered multiple delays due to various reasons from him - he had kidney stones, his daughter had chicken pox, his sister in law had emergency cesarean. Etc. So it took almost 3 months to complete the work!!!

I have only just discovered that the plumbing wasn't done according to plan, so I haven't written to him about this yet. I'm waiting on Building Control to come out and confirm if the work is legal or actually able to be approved. After which I will reach out to him about the plumbing.

I have already written a recorded delivery letter to him outlining why I don't believe I am liable for the remaining costs he invoiced for as they were items that were already in the quotation or in the plans. He doesn't agree but didn't send any response.

Everything has been in shambles - he even sent across two different invoices after the work was done, shifting expenses from one item to another. This was after I highlighted that these items were already covered by the quotation and plans (obviously he made these cheaper and made the valid extras more expensive)

Sadly he actually came recommended by a shop I frequented for whom he had done works for.
Edited by: "deeyap" 20th Oct 2015
He doesn't actually have to refuse to attend, just ignore proceedings or not turn up, then deny getting the papers, dragging things out.The bottom line is you may well have a case but then actually getting him to pay is an entirely different matter. It will be costly, time consuming and very frustrating. Sadly there have been so many cuts and changes to the court service ( with more in the pipe line) that it is no longer fit for purpose. This will only become obvious when anyone needs to get access to justice - either civil courts or family.
Edited by: "booky" 20th Oct 2015
Original Poster
booky

He doesn't actually have to refuse to attend, just ignore proceedings or … He doesn't actually have to refuse to attend, just ignore proceedings or not turn up, then deny getting the papers, dragging things out.The bottom line is you may well have a case but then actually getting him to pay is an entirely different matter. It will be costly, time consuming and very frustrating. Sadly there have been so many cuts and changes to the court service ( with more in the pipe line) that it is no longer fit for purpose. This will only become obvious when anyone needs to get access to justice - either civil courts or family.



That's utter crap to be honest (the situation). Surely there must be some way of enforcing court decisions otherwise what's the point of actually attempting to resolve the case through the legal system? Sounds like I'm going to have to cover the extras on my own. The guy is such a douche that we will probably do exactly what you just described.

Edit: Or is it not possible to prevent him from trading as a builder? Is there nothing to stamp out cowboy builders?
Edited by: "deeyap" 20th Oct 2015
A county court judgement will show against his credit rating therefore he would probably pay up at some point, but it could take many months for you to get to that stage if he plays the system. Initially mediation could be offered but it's not binding on either party.You may be better cutting your losses, don't pay him any more money. Should he then take you to court for non payment you have a valid counterclaim and all the initial expense falls to him.
Original Poster
booky

A county court judgement will show against his credit rating therefore he … A county court judgement will show against his credit rating therefore he would probably pay up at some point, but it could take many months for you to get to that stage if he plays the system. Initially mediation could be offered but it's not binding on either party.You may be better cutting your losses, don't pay him any more money. Should he then take you to court for non payment you have a valid counterclaim and all the initial expense falls to him.


Thanks for your very thorough answers.
I've taken a builder to court and received a judgement in my favour for over 3K. If they don't want to pay they won't.

The easiest way to avoid it is folding the company (as in my case), they will continue to trade as if nothing happened. Some might just plead hardship and offer to pay £5 a week, every month they will miss a payment and you will be back in court to make them pay. If you appoint a bailiff/sheriff they can't take any tools of the trade (that will include the pick up truck the wife uses).

The only way you may get money back is using a couple of thugs to threaten harm. The alternative is just shop him to HMRC for some small sense of retribution.
Original Poster
themorgatron

I've taken a builder to court and received a judgement in my favour for … I've taken a builder to court and received a judgement in my favour for over 3K. If they don't want to pay they won't.The easiest way to avoid it is folding the company (as in my case), they will continue to trade as if nothing happened. Some might just plead hardship and offer to pay £5 a week, every month they will miss a payment and you will be back in court to make them pay. If you appoint a bailiff/sheriff they can't take any tools of the trade (that will include the pick up truck the wife uses). The only way you may get money back is using a couple of thugs to threaten harm. The alternative is just shop him to HMRC for some small sense of retribution.


What do you mean shop him to HMRC?
And did you manage to get payment? Did it cover compensation for delays?
deeyap

What do you mean shop him to HMRC?And did you manage to get payment? Did … What do you mean shop him to HMRC?And did you manage to get payment? Did it cover compensation for delays?



Call up HMRC and tell them he's been taking cash payments, you can guarantee he has at some point. If you paid him cash even better as you can then give them specific details of a job he has been paid cash (best to wait until the end of the financial year in the hope he hasn't declared it).

I never got payment, and never will. Getting a county court judgement was simple, and only cost ~£100, getting the money from that is where it becomes difficult. If he's a sole trader (unlikely), and not a limited company it can be a bit easier to get the money.
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