Q. I hired a builder to build a new conservatory for me. He did the work and it’s great but the final bill is £5,000 more than was originally quoted. Do I have to pay?
A. When arranging building work it is vital to ensure that you obtain a quotation and not an estimate. A quotation is an exact price of the work and cannot be increased without your agreement.
If the quotation is accepted and the work begins whilst the quotation is still valid, the builder cannot charge more for the work undertaken even if it costs the builder more in building materials and other costs than originally anticipated.
If the builder had to do additional work he should have discussed this with you beforehand and raised a further quotation for agreement. If the builder appears to be charging for additional work he has not done, then he may be guilty of a criminal offence. Ordinarily however, most disputes with builders are resolved via the civil courts.
It is always useful to obtain a couple of reputable references from builders before the work starts, perhaps see their previous work and investigate whether they are a member of a governing body with repute such as the Federation of Master Builders.
Andrew Hornsby, Solicitor
This article was previously published in the Stamford Mercury.