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Building disputes

When you have a property built or work carried out on a property, you require the help of skilled professionals like builders, engineers, electricians and more. If you think a professional’s work is substandard our building dispute solicitors at Parkinson Wright can help you to make a claim.

What should I do if a builder’s work is poor?

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 a builder must carry out their work with ‘reasonable care and skill’. 

If they fail to do so, you can either ask them to fix the problem, or you can request a full or partial refund. If the builder agrees to issue you with a refund you should receive the money within 14 days.

When a builder does not comply with the Consumer Rights Act you may decide to seek specialist legal advice. Our solicitors at Parkinson Wright can explain your options to you.

Expert witnesses

To support your claim, it is a good idea to ask another professional in the trade for their opinion about your building issue. For example, if you are unhappy with the work carried out by a heating engineer you might consider asking Gas Safe to inspect the work. They can verify your claim and provide an estimate of the cost of repairing the damage.

An expert can also identify what work must be carried out immediately to avoid further damage to your property or risk to your safety. You have a legal duty to ‘mitigate damage’ which means you must take all reasonable steps to prevent the problem from getting worse. For example, if you ignore a leaking pipe for several months the plumber who carried out the substandard work will not be expected to pay for any damage that you could have prevented.

Recovering what you are owed

The way you paid your builder can affect how you can recover the money you are owed. If you paid by credit card it may be possible to recover at least some of your money through the Consumer Credit Act 1974

If you paid for your building project by debit card you may be able to make a chargeback claim, whereby your bank reverses the transaction. You might also be able to get your money back through the Financial Ombudsman Service. 

If your building work was insured, you could try to claim through your home insurance. 

How do you resolve a building dispute?

Here we share ways a building dispute might be resolved. However, it is important to know that this will depend upon the nature of your claim. Our solicitors at Parkinson Wright can provide you with expert legal advice.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

You will normally start by following your builder’s formal complaints procedure, or their trade union’s complaint’s procedure. 

Your builder may belong to an ADR scheme. If they do not, then they must signpost you to an accredited scheme.

 ADR includes mediation, arbitration and ombudsman services: 

  • Mediation. An independent mediator sits with you and the builder and helps you to reach an agreement between yourselves. The mediator is there to facilitate discussion and not to make a decision.
  • Arbitration. This is an alternative to mediation. Unlike a mediator, an independent arbitrator will make a decision to resolve the dispute. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding.
  • Ombudsman. An ombudsman is an independent service that helps consumers to resolve financial disputes. If you are not satisfied with an ombudsman’s decision you can challenge it in court. 

Resolving a dispute through ADR saves time and money. In addition, the outcome tends to be more satisfactory especially if parties have reached a decision themselves.


If a dispute cannot be resolved through ADR, litigation is the next stage.

The first step is a Letter of Claim. This is a letter your solicitor writes to the builder before issuing court proceedings. The letter summarises the facts on which your claim is based, and how they expect the builder to put the matter right.

The builder will normally have 14 days to respond to the Letter of Claim. Most disputes are resolved at this stage without the need for further action.


Court proceedings are a last resort because they are time consuming and costly. Before going to court you need to show a judge you have made every reasonable effort to reach a dispute resolution by other means.

Your solicitor will begin by issuing proceedings to the court. They will set out the legal basis for your claim and the resolution you seek. The builder will then have 14 days to respond to your claim. 

The builder may decide to accept your claim or defend against it. If they decide to defend the claim a court date will be set. Sometimes builders do not respond to claims, and in this case, a default judgement may be given. This means the court will decide the outcome without hearing a defence. 


How Parkinson Wright can help with building disputes

At Parkinson Wright we can help you to settle a building dispute if:

  • The standard of work is inadequate.
  • Poor quality materials have been used.
  • There is a dispute over the terms of a contract.
  • Work has not been completed within a reasonable timeframe.
  • There is disagreement about payment.
  • You have suffered a personal injury.

When a builder causes you to suffer financial or personal loss then you may be entitled to receive compensation on top of a refund.


Why choose Parkinson Wright building dispute solicitors?

Our specialist solicitors at Parkinson Wright know that building disputes can be extremely stressful and financially damaging. We promise to work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for you as quickly and efficiently as we can.


Parkinson Wright litigation team has a number of accreditations, so you can rest assured you will receive the highest quality legal advice and level of customer service.

  • Solicitors Regulation Authority

    Regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
  • Lexcel Quality Mark

    We have achieved the Law Society’s Lexcel Legal Practice quality mark which sets the standard for client care.
  • Resolution

    As members of Resolution we are dedicated to settling building disputes outside of court via mediation/

Get in touch

We offer a Free Initial Assessment, so you can explore your options with our building dispute solicitors without charge or obligation.

To arrange your Free Initial Assessment at a time convenient to you please call 01905 401 893.

Team members

Frances Woods
Partner, Head of Litigation
Mark Blake
Partner, Litigation


In the UK it is up to the customer to decide how long is reasonable for a builder to fix defects – this could be a matter of days or weeks.

If a builder’s work has caused you to suffer a loss of any kind you may be entitled to make a building dispute claim.

Talk to our solicitors at Parkinson Wright who can advise you on the best course of action depending upon the type of dispute and the costs involved.

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