just looking for an opinion from outside the problem, how do you regard the following situation and more importantly - what can I legally do?
- builder was engaged for a project on a labour only contract, I provide all materials and consumables.
- we agreed on the total value of the labour and that it will be paid in 12 payments
- work started roughly mid Oct 2019
- when framing was up (not even paper installed, or windows) - he sent me the invoice for the 10 year warranty. I told him it is way to early for the warranty and I refused to pay that, he never brought that one back up.
- I have made the first 11 payments with a weekly frequency even if work progressed much slower than payments.
- I have raised concerns about this but I was told "just keep paying, do not worry, we will complete the job"
- basically as it stands, I paid more than 90% of the agreed sum (actually 11 out of 12 is approx 91.7%).
- I have made it very clear to the builder since January that the last payment will not be made until completion and that I regard this demand as request for payment in advance, which I will not accept.
- At a certain point he stopped showing up for work with no warning whatsoever, I left the house unlocked first day as I went to work before the time he usually shows up.
- in the fourth day he texted me "have you paid your outstanding invoice"? He refers to the 12th payment, which would be the last contractual payment.
- I would say there is at least 2 weeks of work for them on site, small deck, verandah to build, install stairs, finish a retaining wall, landscape steps, install all internal doors, skirtings and architraves (it is a 2-storey house extension).
- they did not follow the instructions on the drawings for some fixings and Council picked it up and wants those fixings installed, now it is too late to install what is on the drawing as cladding is up and those fixings require access from outside (if you know about building - 2x wire dogs between top plate and studs are required), one alternative requires far more expensive fixings (Studlok screws), the lower cost option advised by Builder is based on nail plates (Pryda SN50L) which will be fixed from the inside only and in my view might interfere with gib fixing and stopping, builder said they will not pay for the more expensive fixings but wants to use them (so they expect me to pay for their mistake) and that they will not do any routing for the nail plates, "it is what it is" they said...
- they also did another mistake picked up by the structural engineer and he asked that fixed too and I got charged for his time to investigate what they did, analyze photos, write report, etc.
- cladding stops 50mm above the underside of the structure instead of going down past that by some distance as per the drawings. Amazingly enough, they passed the cladding inspection but I will surely fail the final as someone will definitely pick that up. The issue is that they will be long gone by the time I reach final inspection (which I need to have before Oct 2020, that is 1 year after I started work)
- their general level of workmanship is extremely low and does not give me any confidence they know what they are doing or that they are able to fix these things at a decent level. Distance between deck piles is 1500 instead of 1800 as per the drawings and consequently now there is 300mm gap at the end towards a concreted area, gap which I need to fill somehow, otherwise I do not believe anyone will pass that during the final inspection... Some deck joists are 5mm higher than the adjacent joist but they do not install the decking (that is excluded), which means the deck installation will also have to include leveling the joists - which is not general expectation for the decking installer.
Basically he is blackmailing me to my face to make payment in advance otherwise he does not resume work. I find this behavior extremely unprofessional but amazingly enough is not the first time, the draughtsman did the same thing, asked for all money giving me the same reassurances and then stopped work and basically asked for nearly the same amount again otherwise will not do or issue anything, and it was pretty much at the same stage, 90% completion of his work, we were ready to lodge for building consent. It looks like this is what the kiwi tradespeople are trained to do when they get these so precious licenses they waive around, get all the money before finish and then blackmail client for more money to get work completed.
It looks to me that he is in the wrong but all laws and rules are written to protect the businesses, there is nothing protecting the tax payer... even if lots of organizations claim to do exactly that.