Experiencing builder issues? Struggling to tackle poor workmanship?

Carrying out building works can be a challenging business. It’s rare to find a building project that has completed without a few hiccups along the way. Thankfully most renovations or home extensions are completed with only a few minor builder issues. But what should you do if you experience more major problems with your build? Who can you turn to for practical, expert advice and support?

In this series of blogs we aim to outline what you can do if your project hits builder issues. We highlight when it makes sense to call in the services of construction project management experts, like CLPM, to help.

Builder Issues Part 1: How to Tackle Poor Workmanship

One of the most common builder issues we get asked to help with relates to dealing with poor workmanship.

Typically, we get a call from a very frustrated home-owner who is mid-way through their building project. They’re worried about poor workmanship, often in conjunction with over-charging, poor progress or bad communication by their builder, and are finding it difficult to resolve the problem themselves.

What is Poor Workmanship?

Poor workmanship can take many forms. Sometimes it happens because the builder simply hasn’t followed the architectural plans properly. However, it can also be due to shoddy work, or because the builder has installed something incorrectly. At its very worse, it might be that what they have done is dangerous or unsafe.

For example, one common issue we see is builders substituting one material for another. This is typically a more structural or building envelope element, such as insulation or block work. While this might not seem to be an important issue, it could have serious consequences for your build. Not all insulation has the same properties. Changing the materials could adversely affect the energy performance of the property. And remember your SAP Assessor will need to be informed and change his SAP report if you change the materials you are using.

Understand Your Rights

As a home-owner, it’s critical that you understand your rights and do not accept poor workmanship. When you instructed your builder to go ahead with the works, you technically made a contract with each other – even if it wasn’t written down formally in the form of a building contract.

If your builder hasn’t done what was agreed, they’ve ‘breached’ the contract. If they quoted for the whole job, i.e. providing the materials as well as the labour, then you can ask them to put things right. If they just provided the labour, then you’re legally entitled to get a refund, and can stop them from doing any more work.

What to Do Next

Step 1 – Gather together a file with all of the relevant emails, estimates and quotations that you sent and received from your initial conversations to current day. It’s important that you check through your paperwork and make sure you are clear on what was agreed and how things may have evolved.

Step 2 – Check your specifications and drawings. Does your understanding of what is to be built match what your builder has actually been asked to do?

Step 3 – Talk to your builder and explain your concerns. Let the builder know that you understand what you’re entitled to. It’s worth noting that you should tackle the poor workmanship problem with your builder. This is true even if they didn’t physically do the work themselves, but instead ‘sub-contracted’ the work to another trades-person. An example of this would be if they had delegated some work to a specialist such as a tiler or wooden floor installer to do on their behalf. Don’t get drawn into sorting out the issue though. If your builder has a problem with the quality of work completed by one of his sub-contractors then it is his issue, not yours. After all, you are paying him to organise the building works. He must take the construction risk!

If necessary, quote The Consumer Rights Act 2015. This act says that goods must be correctly installed, if installing them was part of the contract. The builder must be offered the opportunity to put the poor workmanship right before you start talking to a different company to take over the works. If you don’t do this you will risk not being able to get your money back. Your existing builder should fix the problem within a reasonable amount of time, without causing you too much inconvenience. However the law doesn’t say what counts as reasonable, so this is something you’ll have to agree between you.

N.B Most work will be governed by a British Standard. If your specifications are unclear on the quality of work expected then you may want to check the relevant British Standard. However do note that some level of tolerance is usually permitted, although the extent will vary depending on the operations being undertaken.

When CLPM can Help

The above basic advice on resolving poor workmanship is useful and probably sufficient for modest projects, such as a new bathroom, a small kitchen extension or a simple loft conversion. However, if your building project is large, i.e. a whole home renovation or major extension, then it can not only be a major headache, but it can have significant financial implications.

If you’re carrying out major building works, and experiencing serious problems it usually makes sound financial sense to get professional help from a building project management company like CLPM as soon as you can.

How CLPM Get Your Project Back on Track

Our first action point is to talk with you, and review all of your plans and specifications. One of our project managers will visit the site, talk with the builder and assess the work done so far. We’ll look at the quotations and invoices paid, and create a valuation of the works completed to date.

From here we’ll draw together a detailed list of remedial actions required. We’ll set and agree a timescale for the completion of the remedial works with the builder.

If your builder can’t or won’t fix the poor workmanship, we will help you try to get a partial or full refund. We will help advise on how to negotiate effectively, and give you advice to determine how much money you should receive.

The next step is to get the project completed!

This is achieved either by re-briefing the existing builder and managing him closely, or appointing and organising a completely new build team.

In either case, our 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 experiencing builder issues with poor workmanship and would like to understand how we can help, then do get in touch.

Call 01923 896550, email info@cl-pm.com or complete a contact form.

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CLPM Project Managers cover London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and West Sussex. Energy Consultancy and Cost Advice services available across the UK.
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