My Experience of Bad Workmanship: A Case Study
Stella bought a kitchen from Ikea and found a builder who advertised in her local newspaper to install it for her. They agreed a price beforehand and the builder said installation would take him three days. Stella was at work for those days, and left her builder in the property without supervision. She paid him half of the cost of the work up front and agreed to pay the rest on completion.
Poor WorkmanshipAt the end of the first day, he had taken out the old kitchen and started installing the new units. Stella was pleased with his work. However, by the time she got home on the third day, it seemed obvious to her that he had rushed the job. The new worktop was chipped, badly joined around the sink area and a number of the cabinet doors had been scratched. Two of the cabinets didn’t shut properly. She was very angry and immediately tried to contact the builder, who wasn’t answering his mobile phone. The following morning, she realised that the sink hadn’t been installed properly and water had leaked from a tap into the inside of the cupboard underneath it. This had bloated and stained the shelving.
Attempts to Resolve the DisputeStella finally managed to contact the builder who told her that he would come round to fix any problems and to take payment for the work he’d done. Stella agreed, certain that she wouldn’t give him any money. When the builder arrived, he said that Stella must have tampered with the tap herself and that it wasn’t his fault that she had bought such cheap kitchen units. He told her “you get what you pay for” and denied that there was anything wrong with the way he had installed the kitchen. He then demanded to be paid for the work he had done, as she had agreed that she would pay him on completion. Stella refused and said that the only way she would pay him is if he put right the poor workmanship. The builder left.
Issuing The ClaimStella could not get the builder to agree to come back to the property. She bought replacement cabinet doors and work surfaces, and hired a new builder and a plumber to put right the damage in her kitchen. She then issued a small claim in her local county court against the builder, who was a sole trader, claiming:
- The 50% she had already paid him
- Thecost of buying new unit doors and surfaces
- The amount she paid the new builder
- The money she paid to the plumber