How to Handle Disputes with Builders


How to handle disputes with Builders

At Blackstone Solicitors our litigation department receive numerous enquiries relating to disputes over building works. These enquiries are received from both the client and the builder, but in this blog we will focus on an individual’s grievances / issue with his builder.

One of the main causes of a building dispute is a misunderstanding between the parties of the actual works being carried out, be it the works themselves or the costs of the works.

How to choose the builder?

As practical advice, before instructing a builder to carry out works at your property, it is important to carry out research in order to establish whether the builder is reputable.

Once you have chosen a builder, it is advisable to agree a course of action to ensure that the project is carried out in accordance with your request and to agree the costs of each stage of the work.

Ideally, a written contract should be drawn up between the parties. Should any changes to the contract occur, it is advisable that those changes and any consequential variation to costs be agreed in writing. You may also want to provide for a retention of monies for a few months’ post completion in the event of any issues arising.

What should I do during the course of the building works to reduce any potential issues?

Both parties must communicate openly whilst the works are being carried out. This enables any issues that arise to be dealt with immediately.

It can be useful for stage payments to be agreed between the parties once certain steps have been completed. This should be included in the written contract. This provides both parties with the opportunity to review the work at specific stages and any issues can be dealt with immediately.

Once the works are completed, any snagging issues should be drawn up and discussed/agreed between the parties. Once the snagging has been addressed, final payments can be made. You should also ensure that all necessary certificates are obtained from the builder.

What happens when there are issues with the building works?

Disputes usually arise where works are substandard, incomplete, delayed or more expensive than agreed.

Where there is a written (ideally) or verbal contract, the client is protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as every contract to supply a service will include a term that the builder must perform said service with reasonable skill and care. Please note that difficulties can arise in proving a verbal contract existed and a written contract is strongly advised.

In circumstances where the builder has failed to carry out the agreed works or within the agreed time frame or within the agreed costs budget, the builder may be found to have breached the contract.

What steps should be taken to resolve the dispute?

You should attempt to discuss any disputes with the builder and establish a time frame for them to carry out any remedial works or establish a route for the issues to be discussed openly.

In circumstances where you cannot resolve the issues with the builder, there are numerous options available to you such as legal proceedings. It is advisable to obtain legal advice before issuing proceedings so as to ensure that your best case is presented.

Free Initial Discussion

Blackstone Solicitors would be happy to help with your case, contact us today for a free initial discussion on 0161 9290121  or complete our online enquiry form. Alternatively, you can email us on

*This blog was written by Hannah Kirk, a solicitor within the litigation department. Hannah has experience with building disputes and can be contacted directly, email her on 

Hannah Kirk, Litigation Solicitor, Blackstone Solicitors

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