Of course, the best way to handle problematic tradespeople is to avoid them in the first place. We published an article recently to help you do just that:
Despite your best efforts though, you can still find yourself in a position where things just aren’t working out with a tradesperson. A position that is likely to require some tough decisions. Here we are going to look at how to handle disputes with tradespeople who have already started work on your project.
Anyone who has been involved with a property development or refurbishment project, knows that managing many different trades all working on a single project is never easy. It might not necessarily be the standard of work that is the issue. Other factors such as punctuality, team dynamics, lack of progress and customer service can just as easily create a rift.
Time is money, especially in property, so it’s important that you deal with any disputes quickly and move on to stay on schedule.
So, what can you do when problems start to get out of hand?
If you followed our advice about hiring the right tradesperson – The Top 5 Things to Look for When Finding a Builder – then you will have a terms of service agreement in place with the troublesome tradesperson to refer back to. This is why it’s always good practice to get agreements in place with all hired trades.
Check the terms that you’ve agreed to see if they’ve been breached.
Arrange a one-to-one meeting with the tradesperson to discuss the issues. It may be that it’s a simple misunderstanding or a communication issue that’s at the root of the problem. In this scenario there’s likely a simple solution, so talk things through before escalating the issue any further.
If it’s clear that the tradesperson has breached your agreement you can ask them to rectify the problem and present them with the evidence of what has been agreed.
If the agreement isn’t clear cut, make a note and be sure to amend your agreement with future contractors to prevent a repeat of the situation. Then…
Even if your agreement is of little help, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a workable solution by talking through the issues. Perhaps you have changed your mind about something, so offer to compensate the tradesperson accordingly. They will likely accept, and the project can progress with both parties happy and clarity in place.
If the situation has arisen as a result of the tradespersons negligence, service, or quality of work, the situation is different. You need to ask yourself if you want to continue the relationship.
If you want to continue and believe there’s a compromise to be found, communicate what your desired outcome is to the tradesperson and make your expectations clear. Get their agreement in writing when new terms have been agreed.
If the relationship has broken down beyond repair, or the quality of the work is way below standard, you will need to start the process of removing the tradesperson from the project.
Solid communication from start to finish is the key to managing a successful project, and that remains the case when you’re faced with the difficult prospect of ending a tradesperson’s service.
If your grievance is down to sub-standard work, show them face to face why it’s not acceptable. Take photographic evidence too in case you need to refer back to it later.
If the problems are a result of delays or other customer service issues, it may be that the tradesperson has over-stretched themselves and will understand your reason for having to find a replacement.
Communicate how the problems are damaging the progress of the entire project and why you have no choice but to make a change.
Regardless of circumstance, taking this step is never easy and it can cause confrontation, especially if payments are being withheld as a result. It makes sense to have someone there with you, your business partner for example, who can provide support if required.
Most tradespeople are responsible business owners and you will be able to work out a fair termination agreement with them, but sometimes things can get a bit more complex…
If the situation warrants legal intervention, as a result of a financial dispute for example, you can consult a commercial or civil litigation specialist, who can help you bring a claim or end the dispute in some other way.
It’s unlikely that you will ever need to take things this far, but it helps to know the process that you can go through if needs be.
Property ventures require a lot of financial and emotional investment and it’s important to protect and defend your interests every step of the way.
Every experience is also an opportunity to learn, so try and take positives out of every negative experience. What could you do to prevent similar problems in the future? How have you learnt from the experience?
Take the lessons but avoid dwelling, instead focus on what needs to be done from here.
If you’ve had to take the unfortunate step of ending a tradesperson’s service, you will likely need to source a replacement quickly.
We’ve mentioned it earlier in this article but it’s worth stressing the importance of going through the necessary steps to find a trustworthy, reputable tradesperson from the outset. This is your chance to start again and find someone you can build a solid, long-term relationship with.
Check out our recommended process here – The Top 5 Things to Look for When Finding a Builder, or better yet, sign up to Property Deal Store now, for free, and download a copy to take away with you.
Once you’ve signed up, you will have access to many more valuable free resources too, all designed to help make your property investment journey a smooth and successful one!
Wishing you prosperity in property,
– Jonathan Bootland, director and co-founder of Property Deal Store