Q&A: Do I have to pay for poor quality building work?

Q. I recently hired a builder to redo my kitchen.  He did a terrible job.  I don’t want to pay for it.  He is now threatening to take me to court.  Help!

A. Unfortunately, the builder will be within his rights to take you to court if you refuse to pay for the service.  If litigation is threatened, it is important that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible.  You can defend the claim by putting to the court that the work was of poor quality and not fit for purpose.  You may be able to introduce a counterclaim for the costs of having to hire another builder to rectify the work plus a further amount if the amount paid for the work was actually more than the value of the work itself.

Proceedings can be very stressful, time consuming and expensive for both parties.  It should be attempted at least to negotiate with the builder an amount which you believe the work is worth, taking into consideration how much it will cost to have it rectified.  An opinion from an independent builder would be useful.  It should also be noted that if the value of the work undertaken by the builder and any counterclaim you wish to bring are individually worth less than £5,000, then if you succeed in litigation you would not ordinarily be able to recover your legal costs.  It may be necessary to have an expert look at the work and decide how much you should pay towards it.

Andrew Hornsby, Solicitor

This article was previously published in the Stamford Mercury.