Legal Hypothetical: Building delays lead to breach of contract

Building delays lead to breach of contract

DAVE and Marg purchased their dream block of land, overlooking the river.

Within a year their house was built.

However, not quite content, they decided to put in an infinity pool.

The custom pool drawings were completed and a pool building company was engaged.

The contract between the parties detailed an all-inclusive cost and the timeframe to complete the works.

Three weeks into the ten week build time, work stalled.

Marg was worried that the pool would not be ready for the grandchildren at Christmas, so she complained furiously to the builder.

The builder told her the delay was caused by third party suppliers and the pool would be finished in due course.

Dave and Marg sought legal advice.

They wanted to terminate the contract as they had an alternative builder lined-up who could complete the job before Christmas.

Their solicitor advised them it was best to negotiate a way forward with the original builder and to seek clarity on timeframes and a new completion date because if they terminate the contract, they may themselves be in breach of the contract and open themselves up to be sued by the builder.

Regardless of the legal advice, Marg terminated the contract, despite the builder informing them that they had a new supplier and could complete the work within an additional four weeks.

Marg paid the builder for work done and told them not to come back.

The builder subsequently commenced proceeding against Dave and Marg.

The Court ruled that Marg and Dave were in breach of the contract as they were not willing to complete their obligation when the builder was still willing to fulfill the contract.

Marg and Dave not only had to pay the builder for lost earnings and Court costs, unfortunately their alternative builder suffered a broken leg.

They are now hoping to swim in their heated pool at Easter.

Thank you to Anthony Fogarty for his assistance with this column.

Email Manny Wood, principal solicitor at TB Law at or call him on (02) 66 487 487.

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