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Dishonest Builder - Real World Solution Please

DRD

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I have a list of decent plumbers/ builders/ fencing guys/ electricians I have worked with for many years.

These guys work on very basic storage units/ lockups for me. Bricked up windows, single storey, no water, basic lights and sockets. So the same tasks are repeated many times on identical units as I refurb them. We all know the score and how long things take.

My builder was busy so I tried another one.

What should have been about 5 or 6 man days of work took almost 2 months of faffing. The guy had his teenage kid doing stuff, his wife. Dribs and drabs. A few hours here and there.

Rather than a bill of about 1.3k, which it should have been based on identical work on identical buildings, I was presented with an invoice of 2.3k - having been given an estimate of 1k.

It is full of lies like painting a 70sqm floor with 40 litres of paint, requiring 1.5 days of time. I painted the identical floor next door with 2x coats in 3 hours of time using under 15 litres of paint.

The rogue builder will not accept anything is wrong. He cannot even produce invoices for 40 litres of paint for example !!!

This is just one example, but the lies on other things like bricking up windows, rendering them ... all just way off spec.

My error was not getting a proper quote. He seemed OK. I thought the genuine prospect of repeat work on identical units would keep him honest. I agreed to pay time and materials which is the way I operate with all my other trades people and have done for years.

Some folk say get a detailed quote, but then you can get builders bodging things, cutting corners, using rubbish materials..... not putting damp proof membranes under concrete and hoping you won't see.

Fundamentally, you need to trust them and deal with honest guys regardless of how you structure it.

Is there any form of arbitration ? Is this law of the jungle ? Has anyone ended up arguing this sort of thing in the small claims court or similar ?

Thanks
 

Rob zombie

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An estimate is an estimate unfortunately. Not a quote. But you would definitely expect him to communicate during works that costs are going to be higher than originally estimated. If he's failed to do that and cannot justify the increased costs down to the penny then I'd offer to pay the original £1k plus any reasonable costs. If he wants to chase it for more let him take it to small claims. But if he can't justify the costs with receipts etc he's unlikely to do that.
 

carl lawrence

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This is not a good place to be in ,Is the builder’s work of high standard ?
You could ask for a reduction because it has taken to long and you have Incurred costs because of it , that’s one way . It all Depends on what type of builder you have ☹️
 
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Kman

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Very hard to gauge without knowing the sort of person you're dealing with and in particular whether the work is ok/passable even if not to the standard that you might have expected given your previous experience. If no essential remediation is required then this boils down to a case of pride and on your figs a max of £1k 'out of pocket'. For that number, I'd pay and cut all ties with him. That way you're not giving him any reason to come after you or your property in any shape or form. If the work needs significant remediation because it's not fit for purpose (not to spec is slightly different and will depend how thorough your work request and quote were) , then it gets messy as you've got to evidence that with an independent appraisal (reputable builder or better still a surveyor). But then he will request the right to remediate, etc, and maybe there's a negotiation to be had but I have my doubts from the description you've given. Real world solution..........still pay and walk unless the work is utterly useless!
 

Eric Evans

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Aug 29, 2011
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The problem is trust,you trusted him you really needed a quote,it is very hard at the moment with material costs plus not every person you employ works at the same speed,some prefer to do a better job and charge more,some are just slow and haven't a clue how to get a job done quicker which comes with experience,he may not be ripping you off in his mind,but really his wife? A youngster? Are they tradesmen ? I doubt it but they probably want a tradesmen rate.i think if he has done a satisfactory job you would find it hard to get money back.you may be able to talk to him and explain how your feeling and your previous experiences and how much cheaper they were and meet him halfway.
 
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Lecari

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Aug 16, 2021
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Herts, UK
It's a tough one - speaking as someone who works on lots of projects (but not building), personally I would pay to get rid like @Kman says and chalk it up to experience. I would have raised concerns after a few weeks if the work should have been completed in that time, and checked in more with it being someone new that I hadn't worked with before - making sure specs and timeline were clear and that the work was at the high standard I expected.

I would also make sure to leave reviews of the work he did on places like Trust a Trader (and anywhere else he's advertised, FB etc) with photos and examples of the issues. At least then you may save others from the same headache!
 
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carl lawrence

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Ok, if he can’t provide a break down of T&M as you didn’t get a quote.
Then pay him what you think he deserves.
He can’t take you to court without proof so what’s he gonna do?
All depends on the person you are dealing with . ……… This message will self Destruct in 10 mins ….so the message is you don’t know what Stone you’re kicking .
 
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domlouis

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Agree with Carl, by all account he might turn up with his digger and wreck the place. Not a good outcome.
I think your best option is to talk to him (but I am sure you have done that alteady). Explain that you had built the impression based on your discussions with him that it would be a 1k job done in a few days.
Listen to the excuses as to why it is double and why it took so long.Isome of the excuses might be valid, material costs in particular seem to be a moving feast. And it sounds he must have been desperate to bring in the wife and son to help out.
And then try to offer a happy medium position and see if he accepts. Make a monetary offer, say £1.8k. And explain it is quite a lot more than you expected to pay. See if it works.
You can achieve so much more with being nice to people rather than getting their back up.
 

Sako-TRG

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^^ you guys have been watching too much YouTube lol.. - wrecking the place is illegal.
DRD hold ALL the cards.
There is NO contract or quote in place.
This could be seen as a cash in hand job or even considered extortion.
I agree with talking it through with the chap to come to a resolution, in the event there were other factors.
You don’t estimate a job then go up a massive percentage on the fly. If you do, then you are an unruly character so go do one!
I’ve dealt with people like this before.
 
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Neil McRae

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I wouldn't pay it; and discuss it with him. Come to middle ground, use other work you have had done as an example.

On any building job I do I put a top level spend no more than this . So if they estimate £1200 I'll say, ok but no more than £1500. if they go over they don't get the money...

Neil,
 
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