Advice needed please -Client won't pay accommodation expenses incurred


Any advice would be much appreciated.

I’ll try to be brief. My husband quoted for a building job which required him and his apprentice to stay away from home. The quote included cost of labour, materials, overheads and expenses. As is usual, each individual element of the job was not broken down into costs, but a total cost for the job was given and agreed to.

The work was completed successfully and the guys stayed for three nights in a very reasonably priced hotel. The client, who is my sister-in-laws friend, asked for a detailed invoice which was given. He has refused to pay for the hotel costs as he says he did not agree to pay them. He had suggested the guys camp, but this was unsuitable for them after a hard days work.

The worst thing is my husband brought the job in under budget saving the client £680, but he still refuses to pay for the accommodation leaving my husbands business out of pocket.

Do we have the right to withdraw the invoice and re- invoice for the larger sum agreed on the initial quote?

We have tried in vain to reconcile the situation and now considering small claims court.

The question is do we have a good chance of winning or should we walk away?

Also, does the client have the right to stipulate where the contractors stay and refuse to pay if he did not agree to the expense?

(Sorry this has actually turned out very long winded!)

Any advice much appreciated.

What you’re asking for sounds very much like legal advice, and anyone qualified to give it wouldn’t be allowed to unless you were a client of theirs (beyond quoting general information off a government website or similar). You’re probably best off asking a solicitor directly.

How was it agreed to?

Depends on the above, partly. The fact the client let you in to do the work infers acceptance of the quote, but it could be argued either way so if you don’t have anything in writing then it can be difficult to prove anything.


As @ian_roberts says though, I am not qualified to give advice on the legalities of it (but since when does that matter on the internet!).

I have had to process several County Court Claims for un-paid invoices over the years.

I think the general advice for everyone is make your quote as detailed as possible especially where it includes an unusual item (accommodation on a building quote) and get the client to confirm in writing that they have read and understood and agreed to the quote.

In this case it might be worth pointing out that the travel time of not staying locally would have possibly made a three day job into five or six days thereby adding labour and travel costs.
Camping clearly would not be acceptable especially as an apprentice is involved and there are strict rules on their conditions of work.
On the face of it the client is being unreasonable as the final bill is lower than the original quote but, you might need to show that the hotel costs are reasonable - e.g. A B&B not a three star hotel.

If you do go to court you need to write a letter “Notice before action” which is a formal seven day warning that you intend to take legal action - plenty of websites will give you the correct wording for this. Often people will pay up at this stage.

In the County Court, the small claims track does have a mediation service (both parties have to agree to this) which will cost lees than a full hearing in court.

When you fill in the forms do not forget to seek all costs and interest (S69 County Court Act) and if the client is a business you can add interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act. Read all this up on-line before taking any action.

A final note do your sums carefully, especially if you use a solicitor for worst case (i.e. you lose in court) avoid throwing good money after bad.

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Hi Lurch, thanks for your reply. The quote was agreed to verbally and apparently the clients solicitor was given a copy as he was going to use this to get the cost of the property reduced by the vendors. Don’t know for sure whether solicitor has a copy.


Thank you very much for your great advice SimonP1.
It is all very helpful and I will definitely send the “Notice before action”

Thanks again for taking the time to help.