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Thinking of getting the Builders in?

Firstly and most importantly this article is not a ‘dig’ at builders – the point of this article is to emphasise how important it is to enter into a contract with your builder and thankfully, some building firms are taking the initiative and responsibility out of a homeowners hands by insisting on one themselves.

So, why would anyone spend thousands of pounds on works being carried out to what is likely to be the biggest investment they have ever made in their life (their home!!) without protecting themselves? My thinking is that it is better to be proactive than reactive and so putting a contract is in place before a sledgehammer is swung could save you money in the event of a dispute.

What will a contract do?

1) A contract will set out in writing what you expect from your builder and what they expect from you not only in terms of the work that you are asking them to carry out but in terms of your individual responsibilities whilst works are carried out. Your relationship with each other will certainly be tested at some point during the project and so set these out in writing – are you to move the furniture or will they, are they responsibility for arranging building control approval visits and/or obtaining planning permission or are you, do they have to make the area tidy every night before they leave and put tools away?

2) A contract will avoid any misunderstanding between you and your builder may have during the project as it should set out the agreements between you for example,

the scope of the work to be carried out, how much the work will cost, how and when payments are to be made, start and completion dates for the project, what happens if works overrun and how to deal with disputes.

3) A contract will ensure that both you and the builder are aware of how to deal with alterations and/or additional works mid-project.

4) A contract will make reference to the insurance policies that your builder holds and give you peace of mind that they are in place before the work starts.

5) A contract will, in the event of dispute, provide evidence as to the agreements that were made.

6) A contract will provide for when works have finished and the builders have left – snagging, defects, guarantees for example

You should not feel awkward about discussing and negotiating these issues or indeed asking your builder to sign a contract once agreement has been reached. If they don’t want to engage with you or sign a contract then perhaps you should ask yourself are they the right builder for you?

If you need help with a builder or perhaps you are a builder and need help with a client, then please don’t hesitate to contact our Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team at Willsons Solicitors for advice and guidance on 02476 387 821.