Dispute over unauthorised cost increase in building work

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  • Dispute over unauthorised cost increase in building work

    I employed a surveyor to act as project manager for some building work. The surveyor/project manager employed a building contractor to do the work and the building contractor supplied a quote for the work which I agreed. I paid a deposit before the works commenced and agreed to pay the rest on completion. The work is now complete and the surveyor/project manager has now got in touch with me claiming that the work was far more involved than originally thought at the outset and as a result, the cost of the work has doubled. The surveyor admits in writing to having authorised the increased cost without clearing it with me first. Am I right in thinking that I should not be liable for the increased cost as it was not approved by me? I haven't paid the balance yet as I am still negotiating the figure with the surveyor/ project manager. Now the building contractor is threatening to return to my property and remove all his materials e.g. undo the work. If this happens, do I have a legal claim? If so, against whom? - the building contractor or the surveyor who was project managing the work?

  • #2
    Generally speaking, once fixed ownership of materials passes to the property owner so the Contractor (or their suppliers) cannot turn up and start removing things.

    Any claim will be dependant on a number of items.
    1. The terms of engagement of the PM and the scope of their instruction.
    2. The specification against which the quotation was made.
    3. The terms of engagement of the designer who put together the specification and the scope of their instruction.
    3. The qualifications if any accompanying the quotation.
    4. The reasons for the changes.

    Although there is the possibility that this could be a con it is more likely to be genuine.

    Sounds like you need to sit down with the PM and see where the extras have come from. Why they weren't identified in the quotation and who's responsible.

    For example if the contractor has priced to install carpets and the spec asks for marble floors then the fault is with the contractor and they should bear the cost - or not carry out the work.

    To put it another way. If you asked a contractor to 'refurbish my house' and this was the extent of the specification then you should bear the cost of the extras not allowed for.
    There is always scope for misinterpretation.

    If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

    Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.


    • #3
      As said above, this is going to depend on what type of construction contract you have and the terms on which you engaged the surveyor.

      There are many varieties of construction contract. You need to see if you have (a) a firm fixed price contract, where the price stated is the price you pay come what may or (b) some other form of lump sum contract, where although the price is stated it can be adjusted if certain conditions are fulfilled.

      It certainly sounds like something has gone wrong somewhere if the price has doubled.

      Also as stated above, once something is attached to the land it becomes part of the land and belongs to the landowner. However, you need to check the contract to make sure that the builder does not have a licence to enter and dismantle the works.


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