Disputes flare between subbies and smaller house builders

Grant Prior 2 years ago

Relations are souring between subcontractors and smaller housing developers as the fall-out from the coronavirus crisis continues to create tension across construction.

The Enquirer has been contacted by a string of specialists caught up in rows with clients on residential jobs.

The major house builders are gradually returning to work.

But many of the problems are centred-on sites run by small and medium sized developers.

One groundworks specialist said: “We are caught up in a dispute with a housing developer in Buckinghamshire.

“They closed their sites at the end of March along with many companies. We were due to have our February Valuation paid on April 1 when we they asked us along with all the other subcontractors on site to agree to accept just 50% of the valuation.

“We declined as we felt this was unfair as all the works were carried out prior to Covid-19 and we had in turn paid all our suppliers.

“To top it all they then asked the trades to return to site last week without receiving any payment.

“We cannot get them to even give us common courtesy and reply to our emails or telephone calls. We are trying to do the best for our suppliers, but companies like this put all the trades in untenable situations.”

Another decorating specialist said: “We have been hit with a seven-day notice by a housing developer.

“Our staff and our self employed workers are on furlough yet the developer is demanding us back on site by the end of this week to work on their flats.”

Emails from the developer seen by the Enquirer state: “We are not being aggressive just acting on our own predicament in line with government guidance .

“We are contractually bound, despite the pandemic. Therefore we need our contractors to perform.

“It is clear that although the country is on lockdown the construction industry is not .

“You clearly do not have the appetite to complete the works in the timeframe which you have agreed to and we have no option but to issue you this notice.

“We have at no point closed the site and we have had other trades working safely.”

Another M&E specialist said: “We have submitted our February valuations and the developer has refused point blank to pay them.

“They sent us an email saying their board has decided not to pay to protect their business.

“What about our business?”

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