Whether you're experiencing project delays, unfinished work or poor workmanship, these practical tips advise on how to tackle issues with your builder.

construction site worker - how to resolve conflicts with your builder over outstanding work - self build homes - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: Charles Deluvio

Whether you're renovating a property, creating an extension or building your own home, the course of a construction project rarely runs smooth. However, some of the most challenging issues to tackle are those with your builders, especially where a project manager isn't employed in the process.

Your issues may be related to poor workmanship or that they simply haven't finished the work, but arming yourself with the knowledge of how to proceed where these issues to occur will help keep you in control of the situation. Read on for some expert guidance provided by CLPM Construction Project Consultancy

high vis protective gear - how to resolve conflicts with your builder over outstanding work - self build homes - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: Guilherme Cunha

Pull together contracts and agreements. 

First things first, gather together a file with all of the relevant emails, estimates, quotes and contracts, all the way through from your initial conversations to the present day. "It’s important that you check through your paperwork and make sure you are clear on what was agreed, but also how things have evolved," explains CLPM, incuding delivery issues or adverse weather.

Summarise these documents for easy reference, which may also help in building a picture if delays and issues may be considered fair and reasonable. Be sure to check your specifications and drawings too. Does your finished project match up with what was initially agreed? 

Communicate effectively

Before escalating the situation, talk to your builder and explain your concerns. Whether or not you have a formal buildng contract in place, you have legal rights in place from when you instructed the builder to commence with work, so ensure that they know you understand what you're entitled to. 

In the case of unfinished work where you are struggling to contact your builder, write a letter to them, outlining what work is outstanding and offering a raalistic but firm date for completion of the work. 

When it's an issue involving sub-contractors, whether it's an issue of work owed or sub-par quality, voice any concerns to your builder. They should be managing this, so avoid being drawn in unnecessarily. 

timber house build progress - how to resolve conflicts with your builder over outstanding work - self build homes - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: CLPM Consultancy

Consider employing a new builder

If your builder has left unfinished work which you cannot come to an agreement on by communicating with them effectively then you are well within your rights to tell your builder that you don't want them to carry on with the work. Put this in writing to make sure you have a record of it. You will need to examine the value of works completed and either compensate the builder for this, or come to an agreement on a refund if you've paid money up front beyond this value. 

For issues of poor workmanship, you need to have offered your builder the opportunity to put the work right within a reasonable amount of time: "If necessary, quote The Consumer Rights Act 2015. This act says that goods must be correctly installed, if installing them was part of the contract. The builder must be offered the opportunity to put the poor workmanship right before you start talking to a different company to take over the works," explains CLPM. If you don't, you risk having to pay them for the work regardless. 

Getting your build back on track

Keep calm and focus on getting your build back on track. This is achieved either by re-briefing the existing builder as above and managing them closely, or appointing and organising a completely new build team. If the project is significant, you may also want to look at employing a dedicated project manager. 

The process should now look like this – prioritising drawing up a new schedule of works, agreeing on a new programme and a new completion date, agreeing and drawing up a new contract. Avoid the same issues by ensuring your new team are visiting the site to check on progress, dealing with and resolving any queries or issues and making sure to manage the snagging, defects and final accounts of the project for you.

For more information on dealing with conflict with builders on a project, consult the CLPM Construction Project Consultancy website


Are you currently in the midst of a self-build project? Let us know how you're coping by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page



How to plan for your dream self-build

How to keep your neighbours on side during a self-build

How to manage your self-build during the coronavirus crisis

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
Self Build Homes

Home of 2030: winning build concepts for housing of the future revealed

A self build concept is among two winners of this government-backed competition. Take a look at these future forward building ideas.
Self Build Homes

Meer End can design your dream bespoke staircase

Bespoke joinery and staircases can really lift a home. We look at how you can add a classic or contemporary staircase to your grand design.
Self Build Homes

Help to Build: Government announces new scheme for custom and self builders

With the government's announcement of a Help to Build scheme, discover the details you need to know.
Self Build Homes

Inside a narrow woodland home, built without demolishing a single tree

With a brief to preserve every tree in this dense woodland site, architect Frankie Pappas created a linear, narrow home that is threaded through this...
Self Build Homes

Discover why a prefabricated house might be perfect for you

German-engineered prefabricated homes are a byword for quality and sustainability. Discover the secrets of the methods in making these fabulous modern houses.
Self Build Homes

Why Insulated Concrete Formwork self-builds are the low energy homes of the future

Insulated Concrete Formwork Systems have arrived in the UK – a construction method that makes new builds quick to assemble and with stunning insulation properties....