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Tradesperson's guide to construction contracts

17th January 2022

Tradesperson's guide to construction contracts

The professional relationship between tradesperson and client is extremely important, with both sides needing to communicate effectively from start to finish. The best way to ensure everyone is on the same page throughout the project, proper processes need to be in place that include all of the necessary information so that whether you’re a client or a tradesperson, you don’t get caught out.

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Just like with any agreement between two parties, a contract is always recommended before any construction work commences. Although a contract does not necessarily have to be written to be legally binding, a written contract is the most fool proof way to make sure everyone involved clearly knows their rights and what is expected of them.

Traders: What is Expected of You

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, anyone supplying goods or services to a consumer must meet the following standards:

·         The service must be carried out with reasonable care and skill – This standard gives consumers peace of mind that traders are required to carry out their services with the same skill and care of the standard trader in their same profession. However, it is important for all parties to be aware that this section of the standards does not include a clause that the desired result will always be achieved. An example of this provided by Business Companion¹ states that: “a competent doctor will not necessarily be able to treat every patient successfully”.

·         The cost of the service must be reasonable – A standard contract will more than likely include a set price or certain criteria that the end price will be based on, in either case, the rights of the consumer concerning price are clearly set out. Similar to the section previously mentioned, the definition of reasonable is defined by the average price of the same job by the same tradespeople.

·         The service must be carried out in a reasonable time – If a specific completion date is not set, the scale of the project will be taken in to account and a reasonable estimation of timescales should be agreed on by all parties.

 

Clients: Important to Consider

Although the Consumer Act 2015 does protect your statutory rights as a client, it is always considered to be just as reasonable as the tradespeople you are working with, ensuring a positive and fair working relationship.

·         As previously mentioned, the reasonable care and skill section of these standards does not guarantee that the desired result will be achieved. So, for your own peace of mind, have a conversation with the tradespeople involved in the project and come to an agreement on the desired result, and make sure those tradespeople make you aware of circumstances that may arise that will affect the desired result being achieved.

·         Although a reasonable price is a term defined by average prices of other similar services, it is important to note that prices will fluctuate depending on multiple factors, including the possibility of your desired result requiring more expensive versions of certain materials.

Clients: How to Deal with a Possible Breach of Contract

When any party breaks a contract, it can be a difficult situation to negotiate, but there are some simple arrangements that all involved could come to a reasonable agreement on.

·         Redoing the job – From a consumer standpoint, if your finished project is too far off from the desired result you set out, you are within your rights to request that the crew re-do the project. From a tradesperson standpoint, if this is the agreement you come to, the work must be carried out in a way which incurs no extra cost or inconvenience to the client, and completed in a timely fashion.

·         Discount on initial cost – If it is not possible for a tradesperson to re-do a job, a client can request a discount on the total cost of the project if it was not completed to the standard set out in the initial contract.

·         Requesting compensation – This arrangement is often used when a tradesperson’s performance on the job has been perceived to be so poor that a client feels they would have greater peace of mind if any other work was carried out by someone else. Even if you are not satisfied with the original tradesperson’s work, it is important to note that it is not within your rights to have one person carry out the work then charge it to the original tradesperson.

Traders: Breach of Contract – Know When a Claim is Invalid

While a client is within their right to make a claim against you if their statutory rights are violated, it is vital to stay clued up on when a claim made against you is not included in these rights.

·         If the client is responsible for poor results – Just because a tradesperson is the one doing the work, that does not mean that any client is immune from fault during a project. If a client goes against a tradesperson’s advice, whether it be to save money or time, and results are poor because of this, you as a tradesperson are not at fault. If you choose to continue with the work even though there are risks, this should be preferably recorded in writing what has been agreed and outlining the risk of poor results.

·         Unless specifically stated, clients cannot change their minds about goods or services without risk – Some contracts between tradespeople and clients include certain clauses such as a cooling off period or a right to cancel. If these clauses are not included, a client changing their mind or cancelling a project entirely is not protected in their statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

Contracts are essential in any agreement between a consumer and anyone providing a service. With this information in hand, whether you are a client or a tradesperson, you know your rights and several effective ways to resolve disputes, to hopefully result in a project that all sides can be happy with.

It is always recommended that when a contract is drawn up that a professional is consulted.

 

 

 

 

 

References: 

https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/services/the-supply-of-services

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