Do you really need a contract when you employ a builder? I’m investigating this question in a piece I’m writing for the magazine this week, and it’s a tough one to answer.
I didn’t use a contract for my self-build project – either with the builder or the subcontractors I employed along the way – and certainly didn’t experience any significant difficulties, apart from a tiler who left site after a day.
The conclusion I’m reaching is that contracts do have their place – they outline in detailed terms the building arrangement and, in the detail, is a tighter arrangement than you might otherwise have. It’s worth noting, of course, that we all have a contract with our builders anyway – simply by engaging with them and agreeing to proceed, there is a contract in place in the same way that you have a contract with a supermarket if you buy a loaf of bread.
Formal contracts such as those offered by the JCT seem to offer the detail that an arrangement needs in order to work – but I’m thinking that they are unlikely to help save a relationship with a builder gone sour.
Anyone got any experiences or thoughts they’d like to share?