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?

  • Salma Patel

    We’ve just started a large project which consists of loft conversion, side elevation extension and complete renovation of four flats.
    We signed a contract with the builder for an agreed price and within 10 days into the project and no changes made the builder now insists he can’t complete the project at the agreed price and wants to increase it by £50k. Though we have a signed contract what was the point and if we now agreed to the additional sum what’s to stop him asking for more moving forward?

  • Vijaianand Kathirvel

    He did the following the drawings and made mistakes during the build we agreed firm quote fixe price. Then deviate from the drawings making mistakes didn’t understand and start increase the contract sum stating additional works . We didn’t agreed. The builder left the site. As the work ran over the contract time. The work we discover substandard and defective.can we claim damage against the builders insurance.

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