Taking a Builder to Small Claim Court

Hello everybody, appreciate any comments if any one has experienced a similar problem or perhaps able to offer any advice 

We appointed a building contractor (sole trader) in 2019 to buid a new extension. We paid him direct either in cash for the labour element or by BACS into his wifes personal account for the materials in his company name.

In a nutshell, the owner was only present a handful of times and then only for an hour or so, leaving his workers to their own devices. We noticed numerous glaring issues with the build quality and requested a visit from our local council building control.

They found fault with various parts and requested by letter for the builder to correct. The builder continued works with 3 attempts to construct the roof (each time i had to order more timber). I called the council again who then inspected and the raised serious issues by letter regards the build quality as not to spec / reg

The builder then walked out saying he was not going to be critised any further. I sent the builder a formal letter outlining the problems which he denied. I have full documented evidence including date stamped photos of the build

We then appointed a quantity surveyor who issued a report which basically condemmed the entire build.I demolished everything except the blockwork, although had to lower the window openings that were too high (assume that is why all the roof pitches were out). I have carried out 95% of the work myself due to costs / lack of funds

My questions / comments
- I need to take the builder to court within a 5 year timeframe i have been told - although he is a sole trader,can i also incude his wife as we paid her by BACS for materials into her personal account?
- I intend to claim for any new materials purchased up to the date they walked out and also the monies paid to them for their labour (except for the blockwork) up to the date they walked out. Apparently i cannot claim for any of my time / labour for the remedial works?
- I paid circ. £1500.00 for the quantity surveyor + his report - would i be able to claim for all of this or only in part ?
- They stole 2 very large Velux windows when they left, unfortunately i cannot prove this, no cctv 

Appreciate any advice / comments from the forum please with thanks

  

 
«1

Comments

  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,709
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    You will be suing the sole trader, not his wife. (bit of a red flag that funds do not go to business acc)

    Do you think that he is going to have the funds to pay, if you win?
    Life in the slow lane
  • bokvis
    bokvis Posts: 10
    First Post
    Forumite
    Hi

    Yes i think he will have the funds, unless everything is in his wifes name. Why cant his wife be named under the proceedings, is she not automatically involved as soon as he gave us her personal bank details for material BACS payments ?

    Appreciate if you would be kind enough to eloborate on the "red flag" issue, as the payments made to her were for materials which i had to repurchase for the most part

    many thanks

      
  • fatbelly
    fatbelly Posts: 20,257
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Cashback Cashier
    Forumite
    I agree with the above. If you include his wife, she will defend and probably win. Best not to complicate things.

    Claim for everything.

    You have 6 years, not 5, from the 'cause of action' As that date may be difficult to define, best not to go too near the limit.

    At the end of the day though, bornagain's question is relevant - how do you think you can enforce this?
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,396
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    bokvis said:

    Why cant his wife be named under the proceedings
    Because you don't have a contract with her. In the same way that if he had asked you to send money directly to his suppliers, you couldn't add them in. 
  • bokvis
    bokvis Posts: 10
    First Post
    Forumite
    Hi there 
    "How do you think you can enforce this"

    From my side
    - i have date stamped photos + correspondence
    - 2 official letters from Building Control outlining faults
    - My letter to the builder notifying him that i intend to pursue as he failed to respond
    - Independent quantity surveyors report  detailing defects and basically condemming the entire build

    I hope to get a judgement in my favour based on the aforementioned, if he refuses to pay then go down the debt collection / recovery route 

    Assume i will be able to claim for all monies paid to him minus the labour element to the blockwork that was left plus all additional materials purchased for the remedials up to the date he walked out

    many thanks
  • pinkshoes
    pinkshoes Posts: 20,006
    Name Dropper First Anniversary Photogenic First Post
    Forumite
    bokvis said:
    Hello everybody, appreciate any comments if any one has experienced a similar problem or perhaps able to offer any advice 

    We appointed a building contractor (sole trader) in 2019 to buid a new extension. We paid him direct either in cash for the labour element or by BACS into his wifes personal account for the materials in his company name.

    In a nutshell, the owner was only present a handful of times and then only for an hour or so, leaving his workers to their own devices. We noticed numerous glaring issues with the build quality and requested a visit from our local council building control.

    They found fault with various parts and requested by letter for the builder to correct. The builder continued works with 3 attempts to construct the roof (each time i had to order more timber). I called the council again who then inspected and the raised serious issues by letter regards the build quality as not to spec / reg

    The builder then walked out saying he was not going to be critised any further. I sent the builder a formal letter outlining the problems which he denied. I have full documented evidence including date stamped photos of the build

    We then appointed a quantity surveyor who issued a report which basically condemmed the entire build.I demolished everything except the blockwork, although had to lower the window openings that were too high (assume that is why all the roof pitches were out). I have carried out 95% of the work myself due to costs / lack of funds

    My questions / comments
    - I need to take the builder to court within a 5 year timeframe i have been told - although he is a sole trader,can i also incude his wife as we paid her by BACS for materials into her personal account?
    - I intend to claim for any new materials purchased up to the date they walked out and also the monies paid to them for their labour (except for the blockwork) up to the date they walked out. Apparently i cannot claim for any of my time / labour for the remedial works?
    - I paid circ. £1500.00 for the quantity surveyor + his report - would i be able to claim for all of this or only in part ?
    - They stole 2 very large Velux windows when they left, unfortunately i cannot prove this, no cctv 

    Appreciate any advice / comments from the forum please with thanks

      

     
    You have 6 years and I'd sue for the entire amount.

    Send a "Letter Before Action" asking the builder for £XXXXX to be paid within 28 days.

    You need to make what you are claiming for clear e.g. your loses and expenses.

    It's good you've done lots of the work yourself as this shows you have mitigated your losses. 

    What was the builder's quote for the job? 

    How much was the deposit you paid? How much did you paid for materials?

    As the builder denied any issues then quite rightfully you employed  quantity surveyor to prove there was a problem, so yes you should claim for this too. 

    As for the Velux, this just comes under a material cost surely - something you paid for but haven't got. 

    Send the letter first class with proof of postage.
    Should've = Should HAVE (not 'of')
    Would've = Would HAVE (not 'of')

    No, I am not perfect, but yes I do judge people on their use of basic English language. If you didn't know the above, then learn it! (If English is your second language, then you are forgiven!)
  • fatbelly
    fatbelly Posts: 20,257
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Cashback Cashier
    Forumite
    bokvis said:
    Hi there 
    "How do you think you can enforce this"

    From my side
    - i have date stamped photos + correspondence
    - 2 official letters from Building Control outlining faults
    - My letter to the builder notifying him that i intend to pursue as he failed to respond
    - Independent quantity surveyors report  detailing defects and basically condemming the entire build

    I hope to get a judgement in my favour based on the aforementioned, if he refuses to pay then go down the debt collection / recovery route 

    Assume i will be able to claim for all monies paid to him minus the labour element to the blockwork that was left plus all additional materials purchased for the remedials up to the date he walked out

    many thanks
    I think you've misunderstood the question. We don't doubt that you can win the judgement.

    When we ask how you will enforce it, we mean what  method do you think will produce the cash?

    Debt collection agencies just send letters that he will bin.

    Bailiffs and HCEOs can be fobbed off.

    Does he own property? Bear in mind if he owns it jointly you can only get a restriction on it

    Is the claim for >5k? Would you consider a statutory demand?

    These are just some of the possibilities.
  • bokvis
    bokvis Posts: 10
    First Post
    Forumite
    Hi

    I alrerady sent the letter albeit over 3 years ago outlining my claim. Yes, over 95% of the work undertaken by myself - taken so long as budget + time permits. The builder left the job when the roof had roof felt on but no tiles etc ....

    For info (my works included) 
    - I had to removed all timber and replace as was damaged from either previous attemps or the angles against wall plate incorrect + too big.  
    - Remove stone wall face as no wall ties
    - Lower window openings as constructed too high

    As stated, i am only going to claim up to the stage they left 

  • bokvis
    bokvis Posts: 10
    First Post
    Forumite
    Hi

    Message for "Fatbelly"

    I cannot comment on if this builder owns any property or not. I know looking at Companies House he has desolved his business before. My claim will be up to the maximum of 10k which will not cover everything .....

    That is the reason why i wanted to invovle his wife, just in case all assets are in her name, plus also the buiders merchants  invoices were made out to his business, but we paid into her personal account 

    I agree, could get messy, but cannot comment on what this persons owns or not - suspect he has done this before though
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,396
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    bokvis said:

    but cannot comment on what this persons owns or not 
    But it's easy enough to find out (assuming you have his home address).
Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 341.9K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.2K Spending & Discounts
  • 234K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 606.2K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.5K Life & Family
  • 246.9K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards