We engaged a builder in Chelmsford that was FMB registered, had a business address and we wrote up a contract from the FMB website that was signed both by us and the builder to complete a loft conversion and a bathroom installation.
Towards the end of the job it was obvious things were being rushed and we called in Building Control to make an inspection (they had made an initial visit) and they identified that some major work had to be redone in order to get a certificate. The builder required £3400 in advance (leaving £3000 to pay) to get materials (insulation, joists, steel plates) and that is the last we have seen of him.
It turns out that the FMB membership was revoked on the day we signed the contract, the insurance details we were shown ran out a month into the build and were never updated and the business address was now a closed shop (although it had been valid).
The signed contract was not completed and the details false. However, the police are not interested and say it is a civil matter. The only way to proceed in this, we have been told, is to send letters in the first instance, but these are returned undelivered from the business address and the home address.
Can anyone provide ANY advice at all - Christmas is not a happy one this year
Write to the FMB and the insurance company explaining the situation. You signed a contract covered by them and I would hope you would at least be given advice as to how to proceed.
Unfortunately I suspect you have spent £3400 which you will never see again - be thankful that you still have the balance sum.
We have contacted the FMB and they don't want to know at all - in fact I find it hard to see what service they provide as both our 2 previous builders have both been FMB and neither were up to much and the second is a criminal.
What I do have is the builder's bank details as we had to make a transfer earlier on - is that of any use? I presume he has not paid any VAT on any of the money we paid - could we get into any trouble for this?
Its a pity that a body that advertises that it protects consumers seems to be unhelpful in your case.
You do not need to worry about VAT, that is solely that responsibility of the builder. If you are unable to get a positive response from the builder you could get in touch with the VAT people - they take a very dim view of traders who do not account for their VAT.
If you get to a situation where the job has to be finished by another firm do not pay any money "up front". The majority of builders will have accounts with local and national firms where they will have to pay at the end of next month for materials supplied this month. If you are using builders who do not/cannot get a monthly account, this should ring alarm bells. If unique materials are required, try to come to some arrangement with your builder that you will pay for the order with the supplier direct and materials will be delivered to site direct. That way you retain ownership.
If your builder wants regular payments say, on a weekly basis- which is a perfectly reasonable request - only pay for work carried out and materials which are physically on site.
thanks for your replies and sensible advice. Have engaged a builder who is not registered with any organisation, but is working just as you suggest - no money until the job is complete, clear communication, full of extra ideas (at no extra cost) and leaving us with a better feeling about the project.
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