contractor walked away after the contracting was agreed.

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    contractor walked away after the contracting was agreed.

    We needed an urgent work, sent the section 20 letters, and the contractor M accepted the work (brick wall repair). They advised that the scaffolding would start on 27 Sep 2021.

    On Monday 27Sep2021, nothing happened. Next day, nothing happened.

    On Wednesday 29Sep2021, the surveyor B informed us that the scaffolder failed to show up and the contractor M now searching for another scaffolder for replacement.

    The onsite kick-off meeting with the contractor M, the surveyor B and the stakeholders was planned to be held on 01Oct2021 at RTM director R's flat, which was decided to still go ahead.

    On Friday 01Oct2021, when the contractor M came into R's flat for the meeting, the first thing he did was measuring the ceiling height, so that he can organise the temporary prop. He even didn't organise these essential equipment until the kick-off meeting. During the meeting, it was explained that the scaffolding date was still unknown. The contractor M mentioned that he follows the 'shorter' version of specification which is just a list of areas in the building [external walls, internal wall plaster, etc without what needs to be done on each], rather than following the full instruction. R wondered if he has paid enough attentions to each item in the specification and if the work will be completed correctly in the way specified. Although the surveyor B will visit on site to have a look once a week, B can't and won't check each and every single step of M's work.

    On Saturday 09 Oct 2021, R asked the contractor M if the scaffolding date has been known.

    On Monday 11 Oct 2021 at 12:02, M emailed us that he found a scaffolder who can do it on Thursday 21 Oct 2021, which is the earliest date available.

    On Monday 11 Oct 2021 at 13:26, R asked M for the confirmation of the scaffolding date. Because in his previous email, M mentioned the availability of the new scaffolder as 21Oct2021, but did not confirm that they were officially engaged, in R's view. R was anxious, because the first scaffolder did not turn up, and this was an urgent work. R wanted a clear definite confirmation that the project was making a progress.

    On Monday 11 Oct 2021 at 14:25, the surveyor B emailed the contractor M, RTM director R, and the property manager F that the contractor M should proceed with the new scaffold at the same cost (as the previous one who didn't show up).

    On Monday 11 Oct 2021 at 15:22, R again asked the contractor M for the confirmation of scaffolding date (which will also confirm the successful engagement of the new scaffolder) and if there is any other progress made.

    On Tuesday 12 Oct 2021 at 17:50, the contractor M emailed us that he would like to withdraw from the project with immediate effect. The reasons that M mentioned were:-
    - the scaffolding date was already confirmed in his email dated 11Oct2021 at 12:02
    - but the resident (RTM director R) asked twice to confirm that.
    - "I manage my clients and their expectations, they do not micro manage me, I will not accept that."

    On Wednesday 13 Oct 2021, the property manager F said that they would have to issue a new section 20 letter and obtain new tenders. The surveyor B said that the contractor M is in the position where he can ask for compensation from us because he 'had to' withdraw because of R's action, and that we are NOT in the position to ask M for compensation in this case. B also mentioned that the property manager F and B himself are also in the position that they can ask the compensation for the additional work [now having to engage a new contractor]. RTM director S said that F and B increased their fees, and all of this happened because of R's actions, so R should resign.

    My thoughts:-

    There should have been a 'space' for a discussion, in my view, so that the communication issue can be dealt with before M's dramatic immediate withdrawal.

    The contractor M had enough time to plan ahead in our view, and still he failed to organise the project well, and the project start date was delayed 3.5 weeks because their scaffolder didn't turn up.

    So, R asked the clarity on the project, and M took it as a criticism or questioning from an unqualified person, in his own word 'micro management'. Although M did not take any money from us, much of our time and energy have been spent on this project and we were dependent on M's work. But we now have to urgently find another contractor to do it.

    How can it be possible for the main operator of the project (the contractor M) can immediately get out of the project without penalty?

    It seems that the property manager F and the contractor M did not sign an official service agreement/ contract (or an equivalent document), to make both parties commit throughout the entire project duration. The specification of the project was written by the surveyor B, and the contractor M gave a price for each item listed in the scope of work. There is an email that M accepted the work offer from B. But without the written agreement to commit the project throughout, anyone can get out anytime, that may make the project unmanageable.

    With M's doggy start, R wanted clarification on the project, which did not go well.

    Was R's action unacceptable?

    I expected the property manager F to sign the service agreement (or equivalent) with any contractors (not only with M) so that their commitment will be secured throughout the entire duration of the project. Is this a too-much expectation, if I did NOT explicitly ask them to do so beforehand?

    Can RTM have compensation from the property manager F or anyone else, for lack of explicit documentation to address commitment by all parties involved, including the penalty associated with the process?

    With M's doggy start and poor attention to detail, it may be a good thing that M is now out.
    But is it really true that we cannot get any compensation from M for his dramatic action?

    Thank you for reading this.

    You could try, but I doubt you'll succeed.
    As a matter of fact all the things are delayed and finding a builder let alone a good one is difficult.

    Maybe RTM should sit down and think about their approach to things if they want to have their walls repaired?


      There was obviously a contract entered into with contractor M even if it was only verbal. Whether or not compensation can be claimed depends on the terms of that contract between the manager F on behalf of the RTM and the contractor M. It looks like any claim would be disputed so did the contract explain how disputes should be dealt with?

      I do not understand how the contractor M can state that he agreed to a different shorter specification. The surveyor B should have set out the specification clearly and there should be no doubt as to what contractors quoted for,

      Again, whether or not the RTM Company could make a claim against the manager F depends on the terms of the management agreement. The manager probably has a complaints procedure which could be followed but if you have reached that stage, it is easier to change managing agent otherwise you can expect the agent to search for excuses to raise other charges.

      R is authorised as a director to act on behalf of the RTM Company, It is for the members of the RTM Company to decide whether or not R is acting in their best interests and whether or not they want R to represent them. The members can vote to remove R at any time at a meeting of members if they so wish.

      It does look like you will need to start again and that could well result in additional charges from manager F and surveyor B. You should learn from the experience, ensure that the specification and the terms of the contract are absolutely clear and in writing. However if the terms are unduly onerous you will find that limits the contractors who are willing to quote and it could increase their quotes.


        Thank you very much for your advice.

        So far, the communication issues (or trust issues) within ourselves continue to hinder the progress of the project.

        So, to somehow break the ice, I would like to consider involving 'someone else' in the discussion.

        I wonder what the council's position and their effect would be on the issue in our case.

        If the council were to be informed about the situation, they would serve the improvement notice or prohibition order, in our view.

        I was advised that
        "The time limit, starting from when the notice or order is served, is: 21 days in the case of an improvement notice. 28 days in the case of a prohibition order. 28 days in the case of emergency measures. The Tribunal has the power to extend that period where it is satisfied that there is good reason for failure to appeal within the time limit."

        So, at least, once the notice or order were served, then the repair must be made within this time limit. Is this correct?

        Can the council 'order' the builders to do the job? [and I think, we will have to pay for it later, whatever the price would be.]

        Or, can we still choose our builders even if the council served the notice/order?

        If the council served the notice/order, then do we still need the section 20 letter to be sent to all leaseholders?

        What is the advantage to ask the council to have a look at the condition of the building for their advice (being aware that they might serve the improvement notice or prohibition order)?

        What is the disadvantage of doing so?

        Are there anyone else who may be of 'helpful' influence on the situation, so that I can ask them to come around to have a look or to have a discussion with me or with anyone involved in the situation?

        Who do you think that may be?

        Why are they helpful in our case?

        Thank you for reading and for your kind help.


          How much money is involved


            around 40,000 to 45,000 GBP in total for 2 projects, it seems.

            We wanted to do 2 separate projects, originally (2 walls that are located in the separate parts in the building).

            The contractor who walked away was brought in only for the first project (roughly 20,000 GBP).

            We don't have the written specification for the second project yet, therefore, no contractors were contacted for the second project. There was no official tender for the second one.

            As the first project is not going anywhere at the moment, the second project is not either.


              What are the objections raised by the leaseholders? From your comments, it appears that you are receiving independent advice from a managing agent and a surveyor, what do they say? As a contractor has withdrawn his quote, why can you not consider one of the alternative quotes?


                The leaseholders don't like that they may have to pay more, because of the sudden withdrawal of contractor M, which was caused by the communication issue.

                The current estimate of the cost is already quite high to us. It is likely that the cost will go up due to the labour shortage (and the shortage of other resources, for example, fuel, materials etc) as the new tenders need to be obtained.

                The other contractor who tendered (Contractor J) took up another job somewhere and has been occupied and will be so for the coming months, according to the property manager F. So, basically J is unavailable to us. Of note, they were only slightly more expensive than contractor M.

                I think that the cost will go up anyway, as the new contractor will have to be brought in from somewhere by our property manager F or by the council (or by someone else if there is someone more suitable).

                The property manager F and the surveyor B will increase or add more fees, as the same project was prolonged.

                The money issue and the delay of the project are causing the further communication issue within us.

                So, if there is someone with authority who can come in to 'help' make a progress, I would appreciate that.

                Does anyone know how the council will normally handle this kind of matters??

                Thank you for your help.


                  I cannot see that involving the council is going to be in your best interests, If they decide to get involved and agree that works are necessary,, they will simply make an enforcement order against the RTM Company, ie yourselves, Your best option is either to accept another quote or start again and seek new quotes. You should keep the leaseholders informed and make it clear that you are considering their comments. You have instructed a managing agent and a surveyor, you should use them, the additional costs are unlikely to be significant compared with the total cost.


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