DISPUTE WITH BUILDERS
Mr Malik, a retired gardener, wanted a kitchen extension built and a friend recommended by a friendly local builder. The builder came round and said he could be the whole extension, including fittings and VAT for ££27,000. Mr Malik thought this sounded reasonable and agreed to the start of the work and agreed a £5,000 deposit to get started and signed the agreement for them to start immediately.
After six months Mr Malik had paid them their full £27,000 but got a further bill for an extra £15,000 because the builders he said that Malik would pay for all the fixtures and fittings. Mr Malik disputed this and reminded them of their original agreement of £27,000 including all fixtures and VAT.
But the builders brought in the original document signed by Mr Malik and it appears to say, “excluding all fixtures, fittings and VAT” at the bottom of the page. Mr Malik denies that this was on the original agreement he signed. He claims that the builders added this after he had signed it. But this is hard to prove as Mr Malik failed to take a copy of the original as they were recommended by a friend that he trusted.
This an impossibly hard case to judge without bringing in forensic experts to analyse the ink on the original document to find out if it has been added at a later date. eCourt would also like to point out that we only had access to the one side of the case as Mr Malik only came to us to gain an independent, third party opinion on the matter. It is also worth noting that Mr Malik is not brilliant at English, as it is not his first language, and he is elderly and was not always clear on all he points he wanted to raise. Mr Malik clearly feels that he has been taken advantage of and that there is skullduggery afoot from these builders.
Certainly if it were to go to court, it would be difficult for a judge to rule against a written document unless Mr Malik can prove that it has been altered. It appears that Mr Malik has been very naïve in trusting these builders and by not keeping a copy of the agreement for himself and has left himself exposed to abuse.
The eCourt Verdict is that Mr Malik is in a vulnerable position but that he does have a kitchen extension that he has always wanted. Mr Malik should write to the builders and make it very clear that he disputes the signed agreement, denying that the original agreement included fixtures and fittings or VAT, but in order to get closure, he is willing to offer the builders a cash settlement, eCourt suggestion is that he should make an initial offer to them of £5,500 in cash, as full and complete settlement of the bill.