FOSTER CONSTRUCTION LTD, Unfulfilled contract Dispute, We contracted Foster Construction Ltd in April 2021 to undertake a major - Disputes Register
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Ref: 2067
Filed: 29/03/2023

Accused Company:


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Company number: gb-11989703

186 High Street, Winslow, Buckinghamshire, MK18 3DQ
United Kingdom

Allegation: Unfulfilled contract

Value: GBP 10,000.00

Dispute details:

Refused to complete fixed-price contract, significantly misled us with timescale estimate, poor quality work which in some cases did not comply with structural surveyor and building regulations, was overpaid but has not returned our money, is refusing to refund for unfinished works that were fully paid for.

We contracted Foster Construction Ltd in April 2021 to undertake a major remodel of our bungalow involving removing the roof, changing the layout of the downstairs internal walls as well as altering the external doors and windows layout, extending the external walls upwards by 1 metre and installing a new roof with dormers and Velux windows. Fascia, soffit, guttering, external cladding, external render, new porch, new drain runs, new soakaway, internal studs, insulation, plasterboard and plastering were all included in the fixed-price quote. Electrics, plumbing and windows/doors were not included (we were told this is just how Foster Construction Ltd work), but we were put in contact with and highly recommended to employ Foster Construction Ltd’s preferred trades as this would enable the MD of Foster Construction Ltd to manage these trades on our behalf – we employed the recommended trades to minimise hassle to us as we were expecting a baby 3.5 months after the works commenced (May 2021). We signed a staged payment contract prior to works starting which included a deposit, commencement of works payment, stage milestone payments and a completion payment. It all looked above board and the MD was very pleasant to deal with and had a ‘nothing is too much effort’ attitude, backing up the testimonials on the website. We had a tight timeline because of the imminent arrival of our baby, which was key to our decision in hiring Foster Construction Ltd – we were given an initial estimate of 8-10 weeks, which after another visit and structural engineer modifications was changed to 12-15 weeks. Fair enough, it seemed reasonable. The quoted price was mid-range at £173,888 incl. VAT and Foster Construction Ltd is also a member of the FMB – tick, tick, tick! Then the works began…..
We have several major issues with Foster Construction Ltd and the handling of our build/contract:
1. Time-frame/schedule. We were promised a schedule at the beginning of the build, but we were never sent one. We repeatedly asked for one and a completion date, but neither ever materialised – we were always told that something will be ‘pinged over’ to us next week. The 12-15 week schedule disappeared out of the window – the roof had only just been felt and battened 15 weeks after starting, there were no windows or doors and there was a lot of work still to do. It is our firm belief that the MD had no intention of even attempting to adhere to his timeframe estimate and purely told us a timeframe that worked for us in order to secure the work.
2. Recommended/preferred trades. Highly recommended by the MD, we were told all trades are excellent and have been used by the MD many times before. Two of these caused a lot of delay to the build, with work way below even a basic standard – these two trades also caused us great financial difficulties in terms of monies being kept for work not done – we reached an agreement with one of these trades and are still pursuing the other for thousands of pounds over a year later. When problems arose with these trades the MD just told us ‘he had never had a problem before’. Something that we were told every time there was an issue.
3. Financial. We had a signed staged payment contract in place (produced by Foster Construction Ltd), however the staged milestone payments were always invoiced early – irrespective of the works within that stage being completed (or even started!). We were actually invoiced at the end of every month. We queried this time and again and made it clear that we were not happy and were just told the money was being used to purchase materials in advance – we were pressured into paying by being told that if we didn’t pay we would slow down the build, which of course the MD knew we didn’t want to do because of our baby being due. We asked for the staged payment plan to be amended so that there were separate payments for materials purchases and build milestones – this was refused. We were also only ever given 1 day to pay the invoices, instead of the 14 days stated in the contract – again we were pressured into doing this. We never got to inspect the work prior to paying the invoices as we were living some 50 miles away. 4 months into the build, when we estimate the build was only 50 - 60 % complete, we had been invoiced for and paid Foster Construction Ltd 90% of the full contracted amount.
4. Not receiving what we paid for. We did not receive the specified slate roof tiles stated in the quotation as we were told that they were no longer within the budget and so we had to accept a lower quality and cheaper roof slate. We were not fully aware of our rights at the time and having other things on our mind, we were pressured into accepting the cheaper slate – the contract should have been upheld and we should have received the specified roof slates in the quote.
5. Poor quality work. The blockwork was a mess in places, not laid flat (in places it goes up at an angle!), laid with corners sticking out from the face of the building with not enough mortar being used at times. Corrections to door and window openings were also very messy. Pointing was again a mess. We were told that it doesn’t matter as it will all be covered up – whilst that was true, it was a poor excuse for sloppy work and it was not what we should have been able to expect.
6. Inaccurate work. Steels, window and door openings and drainage runs were all put in the incorrect locations when compared to drawings. When we raised errors, we were always told that it can’t be true and it took weeks for the MD to agree that there even was an issue, but a tape measure doesn’t lie! Foster Construction Ltd did eventually rectify most of the issues, but they were very reluctant to do so and were very slow to do so.
7. Works didn’t comply with the structural engineer/building regs. We required 3 sewage pipes to exit the building. Lintels were installed, but we have just been left with holes in the walls and the cavity left open, which does not comply with building regulations – this has been left to us to sort out as Foster Construction Ltd refused to return to site. In addition, two wind posts had to be installed on the first floor due to having narrow blockwork pillars. These should have been from floor to ceiling, bolted top and bottom. They were only installed halfway up the wall (for a reason unknown to us). The structural engineer issued a revised design using full length L-brackets which were to be secured to the roof structure and blockwork. The brackets were installed, bolted to the blockwork, but not secured to the roof – this means the two pillar walls can move and were therefore left in an unsafe state by Foster Construction Ltd – we only realised this after we noticed the walls moving during the window installation and did due diligence and contacted the structural engineer directly. Foster Construction Ltd, would have left this as is and just plaster boarded and plastered and we would have been none the wiser until we had major structural issues further down the line.
8. Refusal to honour fixed-price contract and refund monies owed for incomplete works and snagging. 9 months into the build, we had paid Foster Construction Ltd almost 96% of the full contracted amount, with a significant amount of work left. The MD then became difficult and started to tell us that he wanted us to pay for the plastering and rendering directly (apparently he was going on holiday so it would be difficult for him to do….). We did not accept this and said we wanted him to continue to honour the contract. He refused. We were then told by the MD that he had voided the contract and that the works were going to cost an additional £3-4k. We informed him that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 that we were holding him to the contract and that he could not void the contract unilaterally. Communications went very quiet. We were forced to pay the plasterer directly for the plastering and rendering otherwise there would have been no progress on our build more than a year after it had started. Removing the plastering and rendering costs from the fixed price contract reduced the total contract value to £162,508, but we had already paid Foster Construction Ltd £166,475 (102.4%), resulting in an overpayment of the contract by an amount of almost £4k. In summer 2022, we asked Foster Construction Ltd to refund to us this overpayment amount and issued the MD with a time is of the essence letter to complete the outstanding works that we had blatantly already paid for (having paid the revised contract value of £162,508 in full) and to fix the snags that had arisen (fixing snagging is a standard part of building works). We were then informed by Foster Construction Ltd’s solicitor that Foster Construction Ltd would not be returning to site.
The MD of Foster Construction Ltd became very difficult to work with when things started not going to plan (which was mainly due to a few of his sub-contractors and recommended trades). We were never given a straight answer and even though it was apparent that the initial 12-15 week completion was not going to happen, we were told things such as ‘it’s all in hand’ and ‘we are ahead of the game’. We were never given a revised completion estimate, irrespective of how many times we asked. We were invoiced months and months ahead of time and when we needed the work done (even though we had already paid vast sums in advance), we were asked for more money. The MD was very well aware of the difficult situation we were in and knew that we needed the build to be completed as soon as possible due to the arrival of our baby – this didn’t seem to matter to him and in fact it was used to exploit money from us in advance of works being completed. 8 months into the build, we were left homeless as our rental agreement for where we were staying expired. For the past 15 months we have not had somewhere to call home and our then unborn baby is now 1.5 years old. We are still chasing Foster Construction Ltd for our money – an offer was made to refund the overpayment but the terms given were for a full and final settlement, meaning that we would be out of pocket by thousands of pounds due to the unfinished works that we had already paid for (as well as the money to fix the snags). Unfinished works include incomplete plaster boarding, incomplete fascia and guttering, no installation of downpipes, no installation of brick pillars for the porch and incomplete underside of the porch roof, fascia, soffit and guttering. The snagging list includes a broken roof slate on our brand new roof (which by the MD’s own admission will cost thousands of pounds to make good as new), rainwater drainage and soakaway not being installed at the correct heights and the removal of demolition materials and asbestos that are still on our site.
We would like to point out that we can back up everything we have said with photographic evidence and correspondence that we received from the MD of Foster Construction Ltd.

Attempts to resolve dispute:

We tried to discuss the issues in the first instance with the MD of Foster Construction Ltd, with whom we thought we had a good repour. We asked for face-to-face meetings, but these kept getting cancelled. We tried to email him, but were told that ‘he doesn’t do email’. When he did reply he was not engaging and it all came back to the fact that he wanted more money from us. Our first formal letter to the MD, outlining our position and issuing time is of the essence resulted in a letter from a solicitor on behalf of Foster Construction Ltd – we have had no direct contact with the MD since June 2022. The offer of a settlement, which had a 14 day expiry on it, was not a fair settlement and just a return of the money that we have overpaid, there was no discussion about compensating us for the outstanding works and the cost of rectifying the snags. We made a very fair counter-offer of a refund of the amount we had overpaid plus a refund of the £4,000 + VAT completion payment (which we would have been entitled to withhold at the end of the build, had we not been forced to pay upfront) in order to have a quick resolution - this was rejected. We went to the FMB and raised a complaint. Ourselves and Foster Construction Ltd were referred to QASSS for Alternative Dispute Resolution. We tried mediation but there was no progress. QASSS then offered Expert Determination (which requires the agreement of both parties) as the mediation process had reached its limit. We accepted Expert Determination (which would have cost us £1,500) in order to finally draw a line under this very stressful situation and avoid going to court, however, Expert Determination did not proceed as this was not agreed by both parties. Posting on the Business Disputes Register is our final attempt at resolving this matter before we are left with no option but to take this to court. It has been almost 2 years since the build started and a year since Foster Construction Ltd have been on site. We have given Foster Construction Ltd every opportunity to do the right thing and resolve this fairly. To avoid taking this to court, we will settle for a refund of the amount we have overpaid the revised contract value by plus a refund to cover the costs of both the outstanding works as per the original contract (minus plastering and rendering) and the costs of rectifying the snagging list, with the amount to be refunded determined by independent builder quotes. We think this is incredibly fair considering the stress we have been caused by Foster Construction Ltd and the loss of quality of life that we are suffering as a result of the breach of contract and this dispute. The ball is in your court MD of Foster Construction Ltd to prevent this from going to court.

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J. Hardy

Great Missenden , United Kingdom