Experiencing problems with building project delays? Has your builder walked off the job and not finished the work?
Organising building projects can be a tricky business. Construction projects rarely go completely smoothly. It’s a fair bet that some things will happen on site which results in a bit of stress for you, and your family.
While it’s normal for home refurbishments or new build projects to experience a few hiccups, there are always some which turn into a real nightmare. But what should you do if your building project hits a major problem? Who should you talk to, to give you independent, practical building advice and to help you get your project back on track?
In this series of blogs, we’re covering the Common Builder Issues and How to Resolve Them. We’re aiming to sketch out what you can do yourself to help.
We’re also highlighting what to do before getting legal advice from Citizen’s Advice, as well as when it might make sense to get professional advice or project management support from construction project experts like CLPM, to help you turns things around.
You might also be interested in our other blogs in the series – if so then read out our blog entitled Part 1 How to Tackle Poor Workmanship.
Common Builder Issues – Part 2 – Builder Has Not Finished Work
Builders walking off a job without finishing the building works is one of the most frequent issues we come across here at CLPM.
Typically, we will be contacted by a very stressed and irritated home-owner is who is still only mid-way through their major building project, despite weeks of chasing their contractor to complete the building works. Their project deadlines have come and gone. Their relationship with their builder has deteriorated. The job is only progressing at a glacial rate. Often the builder is now working on another project, and is ignoring their emails and phone calls. They need to get all the building work completed, but they are finding it difficult to understand or resolve the problems themselves.
Understand Your Rights
As a home-owner, and the person who has appointed the build team, it’s important that you understand your legal rights. When you instructed your builder to go ahead with the construction works, you made a contract with each other. This is true even if it wasn’t written down in a formal building contract. If your builder hasn’t completed the work in the timescale that was agreed, they’ve ‘breached’ the contract. You can read more on why you need a building contract here.
What to Do Next
Gather together a file. Find all the emails, estimates and quotations that you sent and received. Make a note of changes to specifications, delivery issues or adverse weather conditions etc. It’s important that you check through your paperwork and make sure you are clear not only on what was agreed, but also how things have evolved. You might want to summarise this information to establish how, and why, the delays have occurred. From this you’ll then have a picture of what delays could be seen as fair and reasonable, and which are not.
Talk to your builder and explain your concerns. If you’re struggling to speak to him directly, then write to him. In any case, it makes sense to reiterate your concerns in writing as this will get his attention, and make it seem more urgent.
You have to give the contractor a last chance to finish the building work. Unless you have already repeatedly made it clear that it was important that the work had to be finished by a certain date. In your letter, outline what works are left to do, and inform your builder that the work has to be finished by a certain date. Make sure the date is achievable, but be firm. Let the builder know that you are serious, and that you know what you’re entitled to.
N.B Remember you should take up the problems with delays with your builder, even if they aren’t physically doing all the work themselves. They are still responsible even if they have ‘sub-contracted’ the work to another trades-person. Don’t get drawn into trying to sort the issue yourself. As your main contractor, they have responsibility of organising your building project. It is up to them to organise the works according to the agreed timescales.
If you cannot reach an agreement via step 1, then you are within your rights to tell the builder that you don’t want them to carry on working for you. Make sure you do this in writing, so you’ve got a proper record.
You then need to establish what works have been done, and what you should pay them for any work they’ve done so far. If you’ve already given them some money upfront, and you think it’s too much for the work they’ve done, then try and determine what value of works completed to date, and ask them to refund the difference.
How a bit of Advice CLPM can help
Of course it can be difficult to make an assessment of any under or over payment. It’s also tricky to fully understand your contractual rights. If you’d like to talk to us about your situation, and get a better understanding of what to do next, then you might be interested in our NEW Construction Guru Masterclass service. Delivered via a Microsoft Teams videocall, one of our experienced team can talk to you about your concerns. We can coach you through your specific issues and answer any queries you may have. We can also help you plan exactly what you need to do to get your project back on track. If your project is large – say £100K plus – then spending a few hundreds of pounds on our expert advice at this stage could save you thousands later on.
How to get Legal Advice
If your project is relatively small – such as a £30K kitchen extension – or if your building works were very nearly completed when your builder stopped working, then your priority will probably be to get your money back and use it to get another builder to complete the works.
Please note: Unfortunately pursuing your builder financially is a legal matter and is therefore not something that CLPM can help you with. Assuming you have followed the steps outlined above and your builder is still not cooperating – then your next step is to get legal advice. The Citizens Advice website explains and outlines what you can do, and how to take legal action against your builder.
When A CLPM Project Manager can Help
If your project is very large or complicated eg with construction works with a budget of £300K plus for a whole house refurbishment or a large new build home, then it can we worth investing in professional project management help ‘on the ground’.
If there are serious problems to resolve with the builder’s works – as well as several months of construction work yet to complete – then it can make sense to appoint a CLPM project manager to rescue, and then oversee your project to the completion of the works.
For major construction projects the budgets can are high and calculating the value of such building works is a specialist job. To do this you’ll definitely need the help of an independent construction expert like CLPM as we have both Quantity Surveying and Building Project Management expertise. We also have an inhouse expert whose specialism is construction programming and monitoring.
Here at CLPM we have a team of professional building project managers, as well as a highly qualified Quantity Surveying team who are experienced in helping rescue major construction projects which have run into problems or been hit with serious delays.
What a CLPM Project Manager Can Do to Help
Still several months away from completion and struggling to get your major £300K plus construction project back on track?
Often the introduction of a third party, such as CLPM, can calm the situation. Both you and your contractor will then have someone new to talk to. It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes, who can help establish what the problems are, and then help resolve the situation.
Our first step will be to talk with you, and carry our a review. We’ll look through all of your architectural plans and specifications and aim to get a good idea of what has happened to date. One vital point for us to understand is whether you want us to be independent,or partial. Independence is usually best if you want to keep working with the same builder. One of our building project managers will then visit your site, talk with your builder and assess the situation and the work done so far.
We’ll look at the programme and the works remaining, and from this we will determine a potential new completion date. Next, we will look at the quotations and invoices paid, and create a valuation of the works completed. From here we’ll draw together a detailed list of outstanding actions required, and then set and agree a timescale for the completion of the building works with the contractor. If your contractor cannot, or does not want to meet these conditions, or you do not want him to carry on with the project, we will help you to try to get a partial, or full refund. We will help advise you on how to negotiate effectively, and give you support to determine how much money either needs to be given to, or received back from the builder.
You can read about how we helped the owners of this period property renovation rescue their project and get it back on track here.
If you’re planning a new build you might also want to read about how we rescued a new build timber frame construction project here
Getting Your Building Works Completed
The next step is to get your construction project back on track financially, and the building works completed!
This is achieved either by re-briefing the existing builder as above and managing him very closely, or appointing and organising a completely new build team.
In either case, your CLPM building project manager will :-
- Draw up a new schedule of works
- Agree a new programme with key milestones, and a new completion date
- Agree and draw up a new contract with a new value
- Visit the site to check progress and hold regular, minuted meetings
- Deal with and resolve ongoing queries and issues
- Manage the snagging, defects and final accounts of the project for you
If you are struggling with builder issues, or your builder is running late, and would like to understand how we can help, then do get in touch.
If you just want to some advice to get your project back on track we can talk you through our Construction Guru Masterclass service. Alternatively, we’d be happy to talk about one of our project managers can visit your site and help you rescue your project.
Call 01923 896550, email email@example.com or complete a contact form to find out more.
This blog was initially published on 25th January 2019 but was edited and updated on 5th October 2021