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Thread: Possible dodgy builder – what recourse?

  1. #1
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Possible dodgy builder – what recourse?

    My work colleague has been doing up a house in Margate. She employed a builder last year to do various stuff, but then needed a new one recently to do some other stuff (details are vague).

    Anyway, this new builder has been calling to say that a lot of the work Builder 1 did needs redoing because it hasn't been done properly (floor needs relaying because it was put down on damp floor and has buckled up; bathroom needs redoing because pipes are all fitted wrong; etc.). She has happily agreed to all this while based in London.

    This weekend just gone she was meant to meet with Builder 2 to take a look and discuss remaining work. He never showed and when they called he said he was tied up with family – he didn't bother to phone first before they made the journey to Margate. Nice!

    I received an email from her this morning panicking because she has discovered Builder 2 has three brothers in jail, one for gun-related crimes, and he himself has ripped off someone else to the tune of £60k with the same excuses that this needs doing, and that needs doing. She has also learned that her husband has already handed over £3.5k via BT to this Builder 2 without discussing it first. She's tried to contact the builder but he's now not answering the phone or texts.

    Is this a right off, and she should walk away and forget it ever happened? Or is there recourse? Will the police be interested? How long is a reasonable time to expect the builder to respond and finish whatever work he thinks the £3.5k is paying for? Is it worth even asking him to do the work? She's clearly worried about him being a wrong 'un and getting into confrontation with him.

    He also still has the keys to the house although there is nothing in it.

    Give it until the end of the week to see where the land lies, or take action now?

  2. #2
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    Tell her to change the locks now. The property is very vulnerable if she's so far away.

    Forget the £3.5k & drop the issue, taking it as a lesson. She doesn't want to get involved with people like this: they have far more experience of screwing people's lives up than she has.

  3. #3
    Master reggie747's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onelasttime View Post

    I received an email from her this morning panicking because she has discovered Builder 2 has three brothers in jail, one for gun-related crimes, and he himself has ripped off someone else to the tune of £60k with the same excuses that this needs doing, and that needs doing. She has also learned that her husband has already handed over £3.5k via BT to this Builder 2 without discussing it first. She's tried to contact the builder but he's now not answering the phone or texts.
    Not a Scouser is he Jon ?

    Joking aside, change the locks and forget about any further contact with him.

  4. #4
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reggie747 View Post
    Not a Scouser is he Jon ?

    Joking aside, change the locks and forget about any further contact with him.
    No mate, typical crafty cockney geezer.

    I'll see if there's any further news this week but I guess she can kiss that £3.5k goodbye.

    Nothing ever goes right for her but then who the **** employs any workmen without doing checks first? I don't know where she found him.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pointy View Post
    Tell her to change the locks now. The property is very vulnerable if she's so far away.

    Forget the £3.5k & drop the issue, taking it as a lesson. She doesn't want to get involved with people like this: they have far more experience of screwing people's lives up than she has.
    I agree. I suspect her insurer would take a pretty dim view if the keys were used by a third party for nefarious purposes.

    Working as I do in the major contracting end of the construction industry it really saddens me how regularly home-owners get themselves into situations like this. In my view all building work should be preceded by a formal contract and drawings/specifications/schedules overseen by a contract administrator working for the client who knows what they are doing. There are simply too many 'trades' out there who are more expert in making money than actually building anything.

    And excuse me if I shout, but NEVER EVER EVER PAY FOR BUILDING WORK BEFORE IT IS UNDERTAKEN. Reputable contractors do not expect payment up front and all standard contract forms include suitable payment terms that are agreed between the parties prior to works starting.

  6. #6
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Nuttington View Post

    And excuse me if I shout, but NEVER EVER EVER PAY FOR BUILDING WORK BEFORE IT IS UNDERTAKEN. Reputable contractors do not expect payment up front and all standard contract forms include suitable payment terms that are agreed between the parties prior to works starting.
    Quite

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onelasttime View Post
    No mate, typical crafty cockney geezer.

    I'll see if there's any further news this week but I guess she can kiss that £3.5k goodbye.

    Nothing ever goes right for her but then who the **** employs any workmen without doing checks first? I don't know where she found him.
    The good news is that the £3.5k was paid by BT, so there is evidence of payment which a court would expect to be a deposit for work to be done.

    However her position will be weakened if she has no written receipt for the money. Normally a reputable builder will acknowledge receipt of the money stipulating what work he will do within a specified time frame.

    I would describe her case as weak but not lost. The same would also apply to the builder. He is far from safe.

    Her best bet is to contact citizens advice and take it from there.
    Last edited by Mick P; 13th February 2019 at 14:11.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    The good news is that the £3.5k was paid by BT, so there is evidence of payment which a court would expect to be a deposit for work to be done.

    No! legally there is no link between the transfer and the building work if there is no documentation. the recipient could legally argue it was a gift.

  9. #9
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    Best to just walk away from it. You could try and persue it down a small claims court but even that is more hassle than its worth.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrianw View Post
    No! legally there is no link between the transfer and the building work if there is no documentation. the recipient could legally argue it was a gift.
    I did say that her position will be weakened in the absence of a receipt where the work is stipulated.

    Her position is weak but there is still some hope because a court would find it difficult to believe that it was a gift if they had no history.

    I agree the odds are against but the builder is also in a weak position.

    Like I said, go to CB for advice.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    I did say that her position will be weakened in the absence of a receipt where the work is stipulated.

    Her position is weak but there is still some hope because a court would find it difficult to believe that it was a gift if they had no history.

    I agree the odds are against but the builder is also in a weak position.

    Like I said, go to CB for advice.
    I know someone who got stiffed on a watch purchase, he did the BT then heard nothing more, the Police were not interested, because he sent the money willingly and the response from solicitors was the one I gave above.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrianw View Post
    I know someone who got stiffed on a watch purchase, he did the BT then heard nothing more, the Police were not interested, because he sent the money willingly and the response from solicitors was the one I gave above.
    Fair enough but I would guess that was a private transaction.

    A professional builder would be expected to issue a receipt without being prompted in order to balance his books. The gift argument is difficult to judge because they have no history.

    These cases are never clear and that's why it is best to seek qualified advice.

  13. #13
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pointy View Post
    Tell her to change the locks now. The property is very vulnerable if she's so far away.

    Forget the £3.5k & drop the issue, taking it as a lesson. She doesn't want to get involved with people like this: they have far more experience of screwing people's lives up than she has.
    Quote Originally Posted by reggie747 View Post
    Not a Scouser is he Jon ?

    Joking aside, change the locks and forget about any further contact with him.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Drago View Post
    Best to just walk away from it. You could try and persue it down a small claims court but even that is more hassle than its worth.
    This ^^^^^^^^^^

    Life's too short and you don't need people like this in yours.

    Write off the £3.5k to experience change the locks and get a new builder.

    Never pay upfront. Get quotes, at least 3, and then decide who to use. Ask for references of previous work. If they say no to any of those walk away. There are good builders out there. But there are a heck of a lot of bad ones too.
    Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.

  14. #14
    Master TKH's Avatar
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    feel for them

    and less of the scouser jokes 'calm down - calm down' we are easily offended.

    right as said

    * change locks 'priority'
    * contact him and tell him you've decided against doing the works.

    then try any of the following so not totally out of pocket if you don't think your going to see the 3.5k

    * ask him for £ 2500 /3000 of the £ 3500 back as you understand he's put some effort in doing quotes.

    or

    * say your going to leave the inside for now but can you do 'xyz' outside ...patio, wall, decking ....something that recovers the money with something to show for it

    it's hard but best to salvage what they can.

  15. #15
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    'Gifting' doesn't come into this scenario. If the builder agreed to carry out certain works and the homeowner agreed to the pay an agreed sum, then that is what forms the basis of the building contract. Despite not being best practice, in UK building contracts may be verbal, they do not have to be in writing. There is significant legislation to protect consumers in this regard. In short, the homeowner doesn't just lose their money because they paid upfront, despite it not being particularly wise.

    However... For the sake of £3,500, and based on what the OP stated, I would probably take it on the chin if I hadn't heard back by the end of the week. Take advise from the CAB (or similar) if possible. By the time the small claims process has been run, plus the time spent mulling it over and drawing up the papers, most of that will be eaten through anyway.

    These things, despite seeming trivial to others, can really consume the mind if allowed to. Pace of mind is more important than that relatively small sum.
    Last edited by Progressive; 13th February 2019 at 15:55. Reason: typo...

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Progressive View Post
    'Gifting' doesn't come into this scenario. If the builder agreed to carry out certain works and the homeowner agreed to the pay an agreed sum, then that is what forms the basis of the building contract. Despite not being best practice, in UK building contracts may be verbal, they do not have to be in writing. There is significant legislation to protect consumers in this regard. In short, the homeowner doesn't just lose their money because they paid upfront, despite it not being particularly wise.

    However... For the sake of £3,500, and based on what the OP stated, I would probably take it on the chin if I hadn't heard back by the end of the week. Take advise from the CAB (or similar) if possible. By the time the small claims process has been run, plus the time spent mulling it over and drawing up the papers, most of that will be eaten through anyway.

    These things, despite seeming trivial to others, can really consume the mind if allowed to. Pace of mind is more important than that relatively small sum.
    Yes, a contract can be verbal but there's little evidence that it exists in OP's case.

  17. #17
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TKH View Post

    and less of the scouser jokes 'calm down - calm down' we are easily offended.

    I wouldn't be if I was from Southport

    Two scousers sharing a joke at the expense of a scouser stereotype – it's all good …


  18. #18
    Find someone with thick russian accent to call him and ask for money. If he refuses, move to other country.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    Yes, a contract can be verbal but there's little evidence that it exists in OP's case.
    I see your point. I’ve just read the OP’s post again.

    “This new builder has been calling to say that a lot of the work Builder 1 did needs redoing because it hasn't been done properly (floor needs relaying because it was put down on damp floor and has buckled up; bathroom needs redoing because pipes are all fitted wrong; etc.). She has happily agreed to all this while based in London”.

    The question is therefore whether there was an offer (from the builder) which was accepted (by the homeowner). Granted, if somebody tells you that you need a new roof and nothing else, sending them money doesn’t crystalise a (verbal) contract.

    OP needs to carefully consider what the dialogue had with the builder infers. Though I doubt whether any right minded person would send a stranger money without knowing what it was they were paying for. Surely the builder has said “send me X and I’ll do Y”.

    Could be a range of outcomes I guess.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onelasttime View Post
    I wouldn't be if I was from Southport

    Two scousers sharing a joke at the expense of a scouser stereotype – it's all good …

    haha to be fair Liverpool is nicer and safer than Southport these days

    ! eh eh eh...Yozzer where are you now ?

  21. #21
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    Personally I couldn't afford to write three and a half grand off - but for that same reason I would be much much more careful handing over money.
    I couldn't give a shiny one about his brothers gun offenses, give it the week and report to the police and trading standards. Maybe even rogue traders on the telly. If you dont hear another word from him at least there is a red flag against him in case it happens again.

  22. #22
    Instead of relying on a builder to say what needs to be done to remedy allegedly faulty work, how about expert advice is sought and a schedule of defects drawn up and laid at the door of builder 1? Tell builder 2 to hold fire for now whilst things are put in order and ask for a bloody receipt for the 3.5k. Once a clear direction is ascertained, ideally in the form of a list of things that need doing and a firm price to do them, everyone can move forward with minimum stress.

  23. #23
    Master KavKav's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pointy View Post
    Tell her to change the locks now. The property is very vulnerable if she's so far away.

    Forget the £3.5k & drop the issue, taking it as a lesson. She doesn't want to get involved with people like this: they have far more experience of screwing people's lives up than she has.
    Extremely well said, she should ‘run’ and then run some more! She should not pay another penny and if builder scrote gets threatening, go straight to police (good luck with that)

  24. #24
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmarchitect View Post
    Instead of relying on a builder to say what needs to be done to remedy allegedly faulty work, how about expert advice is sought and a schedule of defects drawn up and laid at the door of builder 1? Tell builder 2 to hold fire for now whilst things are put in order and ask for a bloody receipt for the 3.5k. Once a clear direction is ascertained, ideally in the form of a list of things that need doing and a firm price to do them, everyone can move forward with minimum stress.
    I think you might have missed the point. There was no faulty work by Builder 1. The suspicion is that Builder 2 has been fabricating work to raise the fee, and has now been paid before any work has commenced, with a track record for 'doing one' shortly after.

    I think the schedule of work and receipt ship has sailed. I'd dearly like to be proved wrong on her behalf.

  25. #25
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    It's a common thing that tradesman tend to do to each other as far as saying the work that's been done before them is terrible. Given bad work does happen but only ever take the word of a builder or tradesman that you truly trust to criticize work that's been carried out before them.

    Sucks that money has already been sent over, with cases like this you really have to evaluate if its worth the time and stress to chase money that realistically they will never pay you - they would of course instantly lose in court but the likelihood of the money being recovered is really low.

    It blows my mind that it's not uncommon for builders and tradesman to go AWOL like this, I had two separate jobs running up to Christmas this year where I was filling in for tradesman who had walked off site and switched off their phones for Christmas with work uncompleted (that definitely could have been completed).

  26. #26
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    The monies are gone, the builders are gone, skip this years holiday and start again.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Onelasttime View Post
    I think you might have missed the point. There was no faulty work by Builder 1. The suspicion is that Builder 2 has been fabricating work to raise the fee, and has now been paid before any work has commenced, with a track record for 'doing one' shortly after.

    I think the schedule of work and receipt ship has sailed. I'd dearly like to be proved wrong on her behalf.
    One thought, it may be worth her going to the police just in case he has done this before and it has been reported. If they have several reports of him doing it then intent might be provable, if so the situation would be completely different.

  28. #28
    Master Onelasttime's Avatar
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    Brief follow up.

    Her brother went to the house yesterday and changed the locks. The builder finally got in touch, but only to ask for another £200 to refit the shower after he'd done the tiling. He's done no tiling so far.

    They've told him he's not getting any more money and they don't want him to work on the house.

    We'll see what happens.

  29. #29
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    It's a common thing that tradesman tend to do to each other as far as saying the work that's been done before them is terrible. Given bad work does happen but only ever take the word of a builder or tradesman that you truly trust to criticize work that's been carried out before them.


    This happens a lot and is a very common way of tradesman getting extra money! I'm in the trade and if I had a pound for everytime someone has said this .....

    everybody has a different way of working so its not always a complete mess and can be put right quite easily, but they wont tell you that !

  30. #30
    Craftsman bomberman's Avatar
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    Given the family history it sounds like she could be in a whole world of pain if she tries to recover the money.

    Personally in her current position, I would rack this up as one of life’s lessons and would learn from it.

    An anonymous call to HMRC or might not go amiss as I suspect that he hasn’t declared it as income?

    B

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