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  • FIRST POST
    • jingles8384
    • By jingles8384 28th Sep 16, 12:12 PM
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    jingles8384
    Window cowboy and potential court proceedings
    • #1
    • 28th Sep 16, 12:12 PM
    Window cowboy and potential court proceedings 28th Sep 16 at 12:12 PM
    Hi all,

    Looking for some advice on a sticky predicament we find ourselves in..! Before I go any further, I fully realise I've been a muppet and have 100% learnt my lesson through this monumental c*ck up

    We completed and exchanged on our house on 22nd August this year and it's a complete reno job - 3 bed bungalow in the South West built in 1966. Nothing has been changed (apart from some small alterations to the bathroom and kitchen circa 15-20 years ago) so we got a full structural survey done prior to getting the keys etc. Usual things were picked up (eg asbestos, old boiler, microbore pipework and windows being old) so we knew what we needed to budget for.

    Main issue we've had (apart from the usual niggles you find in this age house) is with the windows. We're lucky enough to have a family friend who is very well qualified and has all the relevant certifications, however he was fully booked until December and we needed to get at least the kitchen and front door replaced urgently (so that new kitchen can be fitted next week and property is more secure - we had the original 1966 front door..!).

    We had a recommendation for a local chap (not part of a large national firm or anything) and he quoted a fair price for replacing 1 window in the kitchen, changing another kitchen window to a smaller frame, replacing the back door in the kitchen, fitting french doors in the lounge (previously a single door and large window) and replacing the front door with a composite door. He said the work would take 2 days (including all the necessary brickwork for the kitchen) and was booked in for 15/16 September.

    Long story short, he told us he was FENSA registered and he's not, the windows and doors he has fitted have all got to come out (some are wonky, some are the wrong size for the holes in the wall, some are upside down (!!!), some have had the drainage covered up (!!!) and some are not set back into the brickwork). We've been told that they're safe and (relatively) secure and watertight but will not last long term, so are looking at forking out again around £4k to fix the problems and get new frames etc from scratch.

    We agreed on a price for the hardware and labor upfront (£3,925) and have paid £2,425 so far (so £1,500 outstanding). I lost my rag a little last Thursday when he told me it was going to be another 3-4 working days until it was finished (so our 2 day job would have been 13 days) and he lied to us (again!) about being FENSA registered when he's not. I told him to pack up and leave the property because he'd been lying to us all along and we need to get someone in who knows what they're doing to fix his mess.

    I've reported him to Trading Standards and FENSA (both were very interested thankfully!) but he's now saying that he's going to take us to small claims court for the £1,500 we haven't paid...

    Main areas of concern/advice for us are as follows:
    - Does he have a case (I really hope not!)?
    - If we defend/counter claim at small claims court, does that mean we need to leave the windows/doors as they are at the moment until it's resolved?

    Thanks in advance for any help

    PS - I can provide more details if needed to help quantify everything as I've got a 5 pages of documented conversations, messages and phonecalls (not including the 50+ photos I've taken of his 'work')
Page 1
    • lg13mza
    • By lg13mza 28th Sep 16, 1:40 PM
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    lg13mza
    • #2
    • 28th Sep 16, 1:40 PM
    • #2
    • 28th Sep 16, 1:40 PM
    I would have thought that if you want to counter-claim you will have to leave the windows as they are in case the court wants to gain an independent inspection. Extensive photo's may be enough. I would seek professional advice on that one as it will dictate your next move. I honestly expect he is bluffing about taking you to court as he doesn't have a leg to stand on if what you say is correct. But you will have to decide if you want to try and claim from him for your money back. In which case you may have to leave the windows alone to be on the safe side.


    If it was me, I'd be tempted to get a solicitor to send him a letter threatening him with court yourself and see what his response is. Whether you follow through is your choice.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 28th Sep 16, 2:06 PM
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    • #3
    • 28th Sep 16, 2:06 PM
    • #3
    • 28th Sep 16, 2:06 PM
    In this situation, I would be getting an independent report done now (FENSA could probably recommend a suitable expert). Once an inspection had been done, and after taking plenty of photographs, both wide angle & close-up, get someone in to rectify the problems.

    Keep every scrap of paper and invoice, then take the cowboy to court for the extra it has cost you. If he files a claim first, then submit a counter claim and you should save on the initial court costs,
    So many cats, so few good recipes.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.

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    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 28th Sep 16, 4:11 PM
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    • #4
    • 28th Sep 16, 4:11 PM
    • #4
    • 28th Sep 16, 4:11 PM
    With regards works courts normally go with builders given chance to rectify works (Differs if life threatening etc) you didn’t give the opportunity and works had not finished they could simply state that all works would have been rectified, only temporary, at clients instruction etc.

    Most cowboys don’t argue works are sub standard to courts more often they acknowledge but have not be given opportunity to rectify ( bad worker whom they no longer employ bs )

    If they stipulated was it verbal or written that they are Fensa? Or that on completion a Fensa certificate would be issued they differ slightly the former and in writing could be Deception/ fraud the latter perfectly legal ) again verbal or written acknowledgment, time scale otherwise it gets into they said, you said ping pong.

    You post states "he told us " to me says yes not in writing? he can take you to court for breach of contract you may be able to counter but its you that breached not him irrespective of work quality etc
    Last edited by brightontraveller; 28-09-2016 at 6:06 PM.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 28th Sep 16, 7:22 PM
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    Furts
    • #5
    • 28th Sep 16, 7:22 PM
    • #5
    • 28th Sep 16, 7:22 PM
    I am with brightontraveller on this. OP has made a big mistake by kicking off the installer. The correct action would be to notify the installer of concerns, informally or in writing as judged appropriate to the situation.

    The installer should have been given the opportunity to complete the work and request payment. On completion you could inspect and pass comment on issues concerning you. Even if you get nowhere you still have £1500 in hand. This will pay for replacement windows, and doors, for much of your home.

    You may believe you have a case that would stand up in court, but here you need to be realistic. Unless you have qualifications, and experience, it will be your word against the installer. Bear in mind the Judge is unlikely to back you, and will regard you as a layman.

    The installer may be useless, but any third party will read your comment about 5 pages of communication, and 50+ photos and then run for the nearest exit.

    You may be the nicest client in the world, but this scenario sounds like that of a client from hell. Compound this with kicking off the installer and I suggest you step back and take a reality check.
    • ukjoel
    • By ukjoel 29th Sep 16, 1:25 AM
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    • #6
    • 29th Sep 16, 1:25 AM
    • #6
    • 29th Sep 16, 1:25 AM
    We had a similar issue with some tiling a few years back.

    Key thing is to follow the right process and you will win.

    Dont get hung up on things that either are not relevant or cant be proven (ie if he verbally said he was FENSA when his isnt)

    First thing is get a professional report done. They will tell you how bad it is, approx cost to rectify, and if it can be rectified or if it needs to be done again.

    Thats both your evidence and also your cost analysis for your claim.
    You can reclaim the cost of the inspection at court (but only up to a few hundred quid.

    Then send him a summary of the report - dont tell him you have the report just list its recommendations as actions you require taken to remedy issue.

    Give him 14 days to fix.

    He wont because he cant.

    Then go small claims and if the report is good, and he hasnt fixed you will win.

    Then you will have the fun and games of trying to get your money back....
    • Furts
    • By Furts 29th Sep 16, 9:58 AM
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    Furts
    • #7
    • 29th Sep 16, 9:58 AM
    • #7
    • 29th Sep 16, 9:58 AM
    We had a similar issue with some tiling a few years back.

    Key thing is to follow the right process and you will win.

    Dont get hung up on things that either are not relevant or cant be proven (ie if he verbally said he was FENSA when his isnt)

    First thing is get a professional report done. They will tell you how bad it is, approx cost to rectify, and if it can be rectified or if it needs to be done again.

    Thats both your evidence and also your cost analysis for your claim.
    You can reclaim the cost of the inspection at court (but only up to a few hundred quid.

    Then send him a summary of the report - dont tell him you have the report just list its recommendations as actions you require taken to remedy issue.

    Give him 14 days to fix.

    He wont because he cant.

    Then go small claims and if the report is good, and he hasnt fixed you will win.

    Then you will have the fun and games of trying to get your money back....
    Originally posted by ukjoel
    A good post and I second it. My intuition is the money would never be recovered, and to proceed with a vision of recovery is the wrong mindset. A good scenario would be for OP to not pay the outstanding £1500 and regard that as their victory.

    An expert report will be costly - the last one I commissioned on an informal basis was around £500. However for this report to have Expert Witness status meant an additional sum - which is why I kept it informal.

    OP should make friends with the local Building Inspector. This will be required because there appears to be no self certification available. This route will also be cheaper than an expert report.
    • phil24_7
    • By phil24_7 29th Sep 16, 11:28 AM
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    • #8
    • 29th Sep 16, 11:28 AM
    • #8
    • 29th Sep 16, 11:28 AM
    Listen to these two above as it will help you massively.

    It is possible to win without affording them further opportunity to complete the works but it is MUCH harder. The onus would be on you to prove that they are incompetent and that any further works would cause further material damages to the fabric of your building.
    • ukjoel
    • By ukjoel 30th Sep 16, 12:23 AM
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    • #9
    • 30th Sep 16, 12:23 AM
    • #9
    • 30th Sep 16, 12:23 AM
    If you know his address it worth spending £3 to get a search done to see if he owns the property or rents it.

    If he owns it then at least you have peace of mind you can stick a charging order against the house if you win and he refuses to pay up.

    It wont get you any money until he sells but as previous posters have said winning is one thing, getting it back is another.

    I know the guys in 'cant pay, we'll take it away' get payment every week but county court guys seem far less effective.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 30th Sep 16, 7:11 AM
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    Furts
    If you know his address it worth spending £3 to get a search done to see if he owns the property or rents it.

    If he owns it then at least you have peace of mind you can stick a charging order against the house if you win and he refuses to pay up.

    It wont get you any money until he sells but as previous posters have said winning is one thing, getting it back is another.

    I know the guys in 'cant pay, we'll take it away' get payment every week but county court guys seem far less effective.
    Originally posted by ukjoel
    I wonder what legal work, and cost, is encountered for this to happen? Then thinking ahead if a bill for, say, Mr Smith at £5000 gets paid in 15 years time when the house is sold how is Mr Smith traced?

    Being pragmatic, might this be incurring further legal costs and clutching at straws?
    • jingles8384
    • By jingles8384 30th Sep 16, 1:37 PM
    • 17 Posts
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    jingles8384
    Hi all

    Quick update and to answer some of the questions asked in the replies:

    - I have written confirmation that he told us he was FENSA registered (as well as independent witnesses of verbal conversations)
    - The windows and doors have been assessed by an independent fitter who has confirmed that they're all fitted incorrectly and need to be replaced
    - One of the windows in the kitchen is illegal as it's been fitted without toughened glass and is within 300mm of a door
    - The council are sending a building inspector on Tuesday next week to verify the illegality of the windows (I've sent them photos and they need to do a visit to confirm)
    - Trading Standards are building a criminal case as well as confirming to me that their evidence and report will be available to us if we want to proceed with a civil claim
    - We've been quoted 4k to fix the windows he fitted incorrectly however that won't be until Spring (as we'll need t save up to recoup the 2.5k we've "lost")

    We've decided that we're not going to go to court ourselves, but will counterclaim for the full 4k if he issues proceedings against us.

    Re the address point, he's on the open electoral roll so that was cheap and easy to find out thanks to Google.

    Whilst the normal course of action would be to give him the opportunity to rectify the mistakes, we don't consider this an option as he has lied to us throughout (hence the potential criminal case TS are looking at) as well as not being appropriately qualified to fit windows correctly (as per the illegal glass fitted).

    Not sure if that changes any of the replies given so far, but I don't think 'client from hell' is a fair comment - kicking him off the property was the only option available at the time after our "2 day job" had taken 8 and with all the lies he'd already told us. I don't see how we can have tradespeople on our property when we can't have even an arbitrary amount of trust in them, their work or what they tell us ��
    • phil24_7
    • By phil24_7 30th Sep 16, 2:47 PM
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    phil24_7
    With all of that against him then you would have a much easier job of proving him incompetent and there would be a good chance any further works could cause material damage to your property.

    You will be able to claim £2500 off him in a counter claim, plus any extra costs involved , but I doubt he'll come calling if he has any sense.

    I would personally go after him for the 2.5K (plus extras) due to breach of contract, but then I do like a nice court battle! lol
    • phil24_7
    • By phil24_7 30th Sep 16, 2:48 PM
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    phil24_7
    I would also get 3 quotes for the job as evidence.
    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 13th Oct 16, 3:42 PM
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    brightontraveller
    At first it appears that you have a good case but unfortunately I can see potential flaws immediately your” independent fitter” is not an “expert witness” Also there statement “that they're all fitted incorrectly and need to be replaced” they may well be fitted incorrectly but that doesn’t mean they will need to be replaced it may well mean they simply need to be refitted that’s not the same thing?

    Window fitted without safety glass what does the quote say it was to be supplied fitted with safety glass? What does invoice from manufactures say it is could it be an error of manufacture not the installer ? Also does quote state Fensa Cert will be issued by him/his company or by a third party upon completion? Its picking bones but that can happen when you go to court, If your going to let them know what’s wrong make sure its all correct….If they are as bad as you say chances are they won’t contest it but also chances of getting any money from them if there limited company are very slim and if sole trader without any assets even slimmer….

    You don’t just need to primarily defend against his claim you have to win the counter claim too it may well be injust but the law is seldom just unfortunately for you kicking them off before completion has given them a little slack on the rope that would have undoubtedly not been there if you hadn’t …
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