The housebuilding industry is as busy now than at any time in the past. As a result of this, I am seeing a considerable rise in defects due to poor workmanship. Poor workmanship is a fact when using poorly trained, lack of skill and quality of the tradesman used whilst constructing your newly built house.

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What is poor workmanship?

If workers are careless or don’t work to the drawings, specifications, and standards, you can end up with a substandard home that lacks the attention to detail and quality you expect. This failure is due to poor workmanship, negligence and no effort put into place quality control processes and procedures. The tradesmen and your builder are responsible for achieving the standards and quality of your new home.

Quality begins with the subcontractors making an effort to work within the specification and standards, this breaks down and leads to poor workmanship when unskilled trades are used, unsuitable materials and a lack of proper management are a few things that contribute to poor workmanship.

Examples of poor workmanship

There are many examples that you can find in a new home, but these are some of the most common ones that you should keep an eye out for:

  • Brickwork not level and plumb
  • Incorrect mortar used
  • Bad plasterwork
  • Poor standard of decoration
  • Incorrectly fitting doors
  • Damaged kitchen units
  • Poor joinery work

poor workmanship

The results of poor workmanship

Poor workmanship causes unhappy customers, who have to deal with the stress of purchasing and even living in a property that is far from what they expected. It also means you will get a very large snagging report when you contact a professional snagger to look at the property. Then, it’s all about constantly chasing customer care and possibly dealing with dangerous or unsafe work.

What to do if you are not happy with a tradesman’s work

As a new build homeowner, it is important that under no circumstances do you accept poor or shoddy work. If you have not already done so one of your options is to hire the services of a professional snagger to document all the defects in a report for you to give to your builder, this will help apply pressure on your builder to sort out your issues. However, there is no guarantee that your builder will take any notice and you may have to escalate your complaint to your warranty provider.

What are my rights for poor workmanship?

As your newly built home will be covered by a warranty, if your builder refuses to carry out remedial works to a satisfactory standard then you have the right to refer it to your warranty provider such as NHBC, LABC, Premier Guarantee or another warranty provider. During the first two years, your policy will cover most defects except wear and tear and minor shrinkage cracks. Years 3-10 of your policy cover major defects such as structural or weatherproofing. It is important to remember that any claim would have to be in excess of £1500 to fix.

It is important to be aware that your warranty providers may not cover some construction or design issues, and it is advisable to check your policy.

How do I claim against poor workmanship?

If you are unhappy with the response from your builder your next step is to escalate your complaint to your warranty provider as soon as possible. The procedure for this will be in you warranty documentation.

Make sure you keep all correspondence you have had with your builder regarding the poor workmanship such as letters emails file notes, snagging report etc to demonstrate that you have done everything possible to have the works carried out to a satisfactory standard before you approach your warranty provider. (There is normally a charge to starting a resolution claim)

If you feel you have not had any satisfaction from your warranty provider you could complain internally but make sure you follow the warranty provides internal complaints procedure.

How do I take legal action against a builder?

If you are not happy with the response from your builder or warranty provider you could make a claim about your warranty provider to the Financial Ombudsman Service which is free.

Before you go legal, I would suggest trying an alternative dispute resolution such as mediation which will be a much cheaper option than going to court. Or contact the Consumer Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will try to facilitate a resolution with your builder, if they do not comply then advice will be given on what to do next.

However, if you feel that your only option is to go to court it is important to have all your evidence such as:

  • Photographs of poor workmanship
  • A professional third-party report (Snagging Report) reviewing their work
  • All correspondence between you your builder and warranty provider
  • Estimates and quotes for making the work right.

If the value of the works is low then it is probably advisable to make a court claim, in all circumstances seek legal advice before proceeding.

Useful Links

Consumer Code for New Homes

Financial Ombudsman Service –  How to complain

Financial Ombudsman Service – Can I complain? – Make a court claim for money – Consumer protection rights

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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