Let Down By Your Builder? Consult a Solicitor Without Delay

Home renovations are a notoriously frequent source of dispute and, if you feel that you have been let down by a builder, you should consult a solicitor straight away. In a case on point, a householder won a £200,000 asset freezing order against a builder who he claimed left his home in a dangerous condition.

On a friend's recommendation, the householder engaged the builder to carry out extensive works on his home at a price of almost £240,000. The project was blighted by delay and the builder was alleged to have left the property's electrical installations in a life-threatening condition. He was said to have mis-installed various items, to have failed to follow architects' plans and, with a view to saving money, to have undertaken electrical and other works for which he was not qualified.

The householder terminated the building contract on the basis of what he considered to be the builder's repudiatory breaches. For his part, the builder claimed that the householder had prematurely shut him out of the property, thus preventing him from satisfactorily completing the works. He also argued that the householder had contracted not with him but with the limited company through which he traded.

The householder, who asserted that he had to spend more than £150,000 remedying faults in the builder's work, launched proceedings against the builder and, following a preliminary hearing, obtained an order freezing his assets up to a value of £200,000.

In dismissing the builder's application to discharge that order, the High Court noted that he had been personally named as the contractor and that a substantial part of the contract price had been paid to him in cash. There was a good arguable case that he, rather than his company, was the contracting party. There was also a real risk that, unless restrained, the builder might dissipate his assets, thus putting them beyond the householder's reach.

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