Posted by Julia Roxan on 9 May 2017

“I've hired a builder for a loft conversion but he’s now asking for more money to finish the job, despite agreeing a price in an email. What should I do?”

Your options depend on whether you got an estimate from the builder, or a quote. An estimate is a rough outline of costs, while a quote gives exact costs to which both parties agree.

If you got an estimate, ask the builder for a breakdown of the new costs - both materials and labour. The builder needs to be able to explain the price rise.

Try and negotiate if you think the new costs are unreasonable. Asking another builder or a trade association for an estimate could help you decide what’s fair, and where to start your negotiation.

If the builder won’t negotiate, make a complaint to them in writing describing why you think the costs are unreasonable.

If they still don’t bring their price down, you can check if the builder is a member of a trade association to see if they can help. Or you could look for an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme - this is an independent third party who can help you to reach a resolution.

Quotes are a legal agreement, so the builder shouldn’t be charging more unless there were unexpected events affecting the work, or an error in their calculations. Contact an ADR scheme if there were no mitigating circumstances, who will help you to resolve the situation.