Local Harrogate solicitor Angela Davies of AM Davies offers this advice when entering into building work contracts.
Building disputes are dealt with differently, depending on whether the building work is ordered by a private person or by a business.
If a business has entered into a contract for building work, an unpaid builder can apply under “the Scheme” for adjudication – a rough-and-ready dispute resolution process which very often results in the builder being paid, even if the reason for non-payment is that there are defects in the building work. Either party can later apply to court for a final ruling, but meanwhile the disputed invoice and costs have to be paid, and the defects do not get put right.
The builder cannot apply for adjudication under the Scheme if his contract is with a private individual.
The danger is: if you have your own business (a limited company, or as a sole trader) and you use your business email address when corresponding with the builder about the work he is to do, the price etc, then the builder can say – even if the work was carried out at your private home – that he contracted, not with you personally, but with your business. And then he can insist on adjudication if you refuse to pay him because of defects in his work.