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amariino

Contractors not giving invoices

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Hi everyone

I'm doing my first minor refurbishment project.  Before I started I did research into how to hire a builder and so on, and the advice I found said to make a contract with them, even if it's minor work.  The response I've been getting to asking for a contract is that they don't seem to know what I'm talking about as though they have never been asked this before!  Do you all insist on a contract?

The other thing is that when I ask for an invoice, in this also they don't seem to know what I'm talking about.  Their "invoice" is a text message or email with their quote in it.  Should I insist on a proper invoice each time?  Is this because they are all avoiding paying VAT?  The contractor who is working on my house at the moment didn't fill out the VAT part of the contract because "he didn't have the number on him".  Later I realised he had not mentioned VAT in the price he quoted so possibly he's not going to pay it.

 

 

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Small scale contractors / direct trades are unlikely to enter into a formal contract, such as JCT (which is honestly to their disadvantage).  If you employ a main contractor and/or the works are of a more complex nature, I would insist on a contract, as there are just too many risks.  The contract set the stage for what is expect from and by all parties. 

Re: minor works.  ‘Minor Works’ is a JCT form of contract suitable for most simple residential / domestic developments (ie: not a new housing estate, or where the contractor is designing it). 

That said, a contract can be a letter, email, etc (but not a whatsapp message or similar).  It must state three things: what the works are, what the payment is, and what the duration/programme it (as well as identifying the parties to the contract).  Other than that, it depends upon what information is necessary to ensure all parties understand the agreement, which relates to the scale and complexity of what you are seeking.  Do you need drawings and/or specification to explain what you want, or is a simple verbal discussion sufficient.

A discussion or single piece of paper describing: a new house, in 9 months, for 200k, is as likely to result in you receiving a cardboard box, and an argument that this was reasonable.  Be clear in what you are asking for, when you will get it, and what (and how/when) you are paying for it. 

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What would you do if you have a contract, with a start and finish date, but the contractors go several weeks over the date they said they would finish (they said it would take 9 days).  Is there anything you could put into the contract to discourage this - such as reduction in payment if they go over?  Or perhaps bonus payment if they finish on time? 

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You cannot introduce a penalty in a contract. You can charge damages, but these must reflect your actual costs/loss, and must be clearly defined in the contract. I suspect they would be difficult to enforce outside of a formal contract. 
Bonus for early completion can be agreed, but I’d caution that not everyone has the same definition of ‘complete’ as to when entitlement to this is triggered. 

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