We occasionally receive calls from homeowners who are having difficulties with their building contractor. Mostly these relate to the quality of work being undertaken. It is also often the case that the building contractor has been appointed without any written agreement in place.
A building ‘contractor’, as the term implies, should be willing to enter into a ‘contract’ for any reasonably sized project.
Although, legally speaking, a verbal agreement could be classed as binding within contract law; it is always advisable to have something in writing or else it could end up being ‘your word against theirs’.
At David Cosby, we prepare detailed working drawings suitable for obtaining Building Control Approval. These drawings contain comprehensive construction notes and can also be used to help contractors in calculating there tender submissions (quotations) for the proposed works.
The drawings should not, however, be relied upon in isolation when it comes to managing the project. Instead they should be accompanied by and referred to in a written contract. Building contracts prevent disputes and we would advise adopting one of the readymade, standard contracts such as those available from JCT (Joint Contracts Tribunal). For most residential building works, the JCT ‘Minor Works’ contract would be suitable to provide an acceptable level of assurance for both parties.
The key details that would need to be added to the contract documents include: the drawings; any specification notes; schedules of work; the agreed price; the starting date; the completion date; and the payment terms. The signed documents would then form a binding agreement between you and your building contractor, clearly setting out the required tasks performed with a given standard of workmanship and materials.
A contract benefits both the client and the contractor and any respectable builder would likely insist on a contract being drawn up prior to commencing work. To proceed without a written contract on any project, other than simple one-off job requiring a single trade, would be a risk that could result in protracted dispute and significant cost.
If your intended project is not particularly complex it would still be prudent to consider a contract. JCT produce a ‘free to download’ standard contract for home repairs or maintenance that can be obtained from the following external link: https://www.jctltd.co.uk/docs/HORM-2015.pdf. Remember, Building Contracts Prevent Disputes.
If you are considering a building project or would simply like further information then please call us on 01237 361664 to speak with one of our Chartered Surveyors or contact us here.