In May my wife and I employed a builder to carryout some rather significant works on our house, this included knocking the dining room, kitchen and downstairs bathroom into one, replacing a window with French doors, replacing floors and ceilings and also refitting and replacing the new kitchen and downstairs shower room.
The work started at the end of May, and was due to take around 3 months. prior to the work starting we agreed the quote, and agreed a rough payment schedule. About 4 weeks into the job, my wife and I met with the builder, and we agreed some changes and additional work. This included replacing some extra windows and the front door, putting down a silicone screed instead of chipboard floor, and installing under floor heating. The builder agreed to go away and prepare a quote for the additional work which we agreed, and he progressed.
overall, we were really pleased with the quality of the work, the builder was always punctual, and always turned up on the days when he said he would, as did his subcontractors.
However, about 3 weeks from the end of the job the builder mentioned to my wife that he needed to provide an additional invoice for work that was not included in the quote, my wife asked him to do this ASAP, and he agreed, I asked him myself twice, both times he agreed to provide the quote but never produced it. we asked if he could confirm verbally what works were extra, and he was always quite evasive giving answers like 'not much just a few little bits and pieces', 'don't worry it won't be much' and 'don't worry you know i'll look after you.' as by this point he had been coming to our house for nearly 4 months we had a good relationship with him, so we let him continue.
About 5 weeks ago the builder called by when we were not expecting him, and dropped off an invoice titled 'extras' for £5,120. this is around 15% of the previous quotes, and included some items that were already included in the original quote, some items that were completed right at the start of the job, and 2 items completed near the end that we knew needed to be paid as extra. My issue is not really with the fact that there are extras, but really the price being quoted for them, to give some detail it included;
1. replacing a shower valve and installing a 150 x 150 shower enclosure - £2,000 2. Tiling the kitchen (1.75 m2) - £600 3 Tiling the bathroom (6 m2) - £500 4 Tiling utility floor (6 m2) - £500 5. building and installing a 1000mm unit in utility room and fitting a straight worktop - £600
also included in the invoice were the shower valve, a radiator, sink and a tap.
I called the builder, and informed him that I thought the bill was quite high, and asked him if we could discuss it. He told me that his day rate was £250 per day, and that he had had to charge the full day rate for the small jobs, as even when he left our house at lunch time, he still charged a full day, as he could not go on and do other jobs. We agreed to meet and go through the invoice, and he promised to break down the invoice so I could see why it needed to be so high.
when we met, he had not broken down the invoice further. Instead he explained that as my wife and I had provided all of the materials such as grout, tiles, adhesive, shower screen etc he had been unable to mark up the prices on the materials so instead had increased the cost of the labour to ensure he made enough profit.
I explained to him that this was not acceptable, and he said that he had also factored in the cost of some of the other items that he had agreed to complete free of charge i.e an extra skip, build a climbing frame and decorate the lounge. again I explained that we had asked him how much he wanted to complete these jobs prior to completion, and he said he was happy to arrange these to be completed free of charge.
I explained that by his own day rate he had charged for 8 days labour (£2,000) to fit a shower enclosure that cost £80, I informed him that I knew this had only taken 2 days to complete as I was at home when it was done and he told me that he needed to include copper pipe, 'fitments' and 8 tubes of sealant 'at £40 per tube' this would make up the difference with the labour charges.
I asked him why he had charged 4 full days labour for 2 lots of tiling, and again he explained that even though he was only at our house until lunchtime for these 4 days that he needed to charge a full day as he could not go on to complete other jobs after he had finished at ours.
I told the builder that I was unhappy with the cost of the invoice, and that I would not pay the full amount, and made an offer to pay 50%. After some further discussion he told me to go f~~k myself, and also informed me that I had made a 'dangerous enemy and that I should take care in the future'.
He later phoned me at home, and told me if I did not pay the invoice in full the next day he would take me to court. I wrote to him offering to pay £2,800 to settle the invoice with a break down of my proposed costs, this was; 1. Shower screen - £750 (3 days labour although I know it only took 2) 2. Kitchen tiles - £250 (1 days labour - it took 2 half days) 3 B/room tiles - £250 (as above) 3. Utility floor - £250 (this was done at the same time as the kitchen, but I have allowed an extra 1 day rate)
I had also added in a cost for the 'free' items mentioned above, this included £400 for decorating the lounge, £200 for building the playhouse and £200 for the extra skip. The builder wrote back, and added the cost of the 'free' items onto his original invoice, and is now demanding I pay £6,000!! As I say, I appreciate I need to pay for the extras, but feel the invoice is too high, and I have made a fair offer to settle. Any advice would be greatly appreciated......
I'm afraid the only answer here is to let him take you to court. If your discussions have broken down and there is no room left for negotiation there are no other alternatives than to pay him or refute his charges.
It will be your word against his in court and without any form of written contract the judge is King.
I suspect that you got on very well with him because he saw you as an "easy touch" and for anyone else in this position please please follow all of the 30+ [pages we have on our website about avoiding this situation. Every single i should be dotted and every t crossed long before any building work starts. We have a free contract here http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/building-contracts/ and lots and lots of info about how to organise quotes and project management. There is abslutley no need for this kind of heartbreak to happen. Very sorry but we cannot help with this at all.
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