Ross Taylor, principal solicitor at Taylor Law is calling for the The New Build Homes (Buyer Protection)(Scotland)Bill, proposed by Graham Simpson MSP, to include provision for “rogue builder” protection. Taylor, a specialist in dispute resolution in the construction industry, says that house-owners are too often left out of pocket with their homes turned into unfinished building sites while the builder disappears and there is no suitable recourse to resolve the situation.
In supporting the new Member’s Bill in its drive to protect the rights of new house buyers, Taylor explained his call for additional provision for existing home owners.
“Too often, I have had to give my clients the sad news that there is likely to be no real recourse against the incompetent builder who has ruined the home which they have been living in for years. Clients are left in a property that can only be described as a building site, with no money left to remedy the builder’s mistakes, or even to get the property back to the state it was previously in.
“The local builder may well set out with the best of intentions, following drawings he, or an architect, has prepared. However, as the build goes on the builder may face challenges, discrepancies in design will materialise, or the builder may not have a sufficiently skilled labour force. The builder may, in good faith, have under-priced the work in the first instance, keen to win it in a competitive market, and so run out of the funds and materials to complete the job. The result is that tensions between the home-owner and builder develop. The builder leaves the site, or is thrown off it, before the job is complete, leaving a litany of poor workmanship and structural or other material defects, such that the home owner cannot even obtain a completion certificate from the local authority.
“The difficulty may be compounded when pursuit of the builder for compensation proves futile, because the builder is a company with little or no assets, or a sole trader in a poor financial state.”
Taylor proposes that a simple solution to the “rogue builder” could be incorporated into the Bill.
“Any builder which undertakes works under contract to a residential occupier (whether or not it sub-contracts that work) must have insurance upon which the homeowner can call, for the remediation of defective works, in the event of the builder’s insolvency.
“The proposed statutory intervention in the new build market is a good thing. It is good for the purchaser and it is good for the industry. It will engender good practice throughout the industry, so that faith in it is maintained and high quality, innovative homes continue to be constructed in Scotland. My proposal relative to works on existing homes may also assist in protecting the industry against the ‘rogue builder’ – which seems to be the hot topic of many a consumer watchdog programme at present.”