Sample complaint letter to builder
The right way to write a complaint letter to a builder
Building and construction projects don't always go to plan, and many project and asset owner hours have been spent trying to pin blame on a specific builder, contractor or subcontractor.
But building and construction more than any other industry, is about good communication and cooperation. Builders as well as all other parties should be and usually are doing their best to deliver a project on time, on budget and to the expected standard.
They too have estimated the right amount of resources and effort to deliver a project, and rely on a positive reputation to keep getting work in a tightly connected industry.
So when beginning or sending a complaint letter to a builder, try to keep all of this in mind. While you personally or your company have spent good money on getting an asset off the ground, the builder may be under-delivering because of things outside of their control and may be working really hard to get things back on track with or without the push of a complain letter.
Lighting a fire on the builder while you are still depending on them to help complete the building or project will not serve your interests well.
The sample complaint letter to builder below is a good example of the balance you are trying to find when writing a complaint letter.
Sample complaint letter to builder
So what should be in a complaint letter to builders? And what should it look like?
The sample complaint letter to builder below has a few key sections which you must include, and which form the bones of any good builder complaint.
The first is good record keeping. Too many asset owners and operators write and issue letters and emails without making them professional records which can serve as proof. You always want to include information like who the letter is addressed to and who it is from. This helps you avoid any frustrating issues down the line about communications being misaddressed or misplaced.
The second part of this sample builder complaint letter which is absolutely critical to getting your issues heard and actioned is the description of the problem/s or issue/s.
The worst thing you can do in a complaint letter is to submit a complaint which isn't clear. The complaint letter is hard enough news to follow, but not being clear on the problem can put the builder in an awkward position where they have to call to ask what they have done wrong etc.
In your complaint letter to the builder, make sure to write clear and easily understandable descriptions of what has gone wrong. This way, the builder can rectify the issues quickly or call and discuss why they can't.
And finally, even though these letters often spark the communication required to discuss the issue, it's well worth writing down what you the owner would like the builder to do next.
This removes a lot of back and forth about nothing productive, and helps both parties get to a resolution faster.
The last piece of the puzzle for any complaint letter to builder, is that you do state that you are willing to escalate the issue should it not be received and actioned properly.
While going to 3rd parties and pursuing legal paths is not ideal, it is sometimes the only path - especially in the face of large complaints or disputes.
Even if this is the case, keep your complaint letter professional and firm, giving the builder no ammunition to use against you.
How to avoid having to write and issue complaint letters to your builders
No one in the building industry wants to issue or receive complaint letters (well at least not the ones you want to work with). But many of these issues arise and evolve on their own because of small incremental issues which aggregate and snowball throughout the life of a project.
On one side of the equation, builders could be better at reporting on progress, quality, safety, production and more.
On the other side of the coin, asset owners need to be clear about their expectations from the very outset of a project.
As long as both parties are clear and transparent, there shouldn't be many issues which spiral into formal complaint letters.
When a good builder meets a good and respectable asset owner and issues still arise, it can be worth looking beyond the intent of the project parties and into the tools they use to stay on top of projects and stakeholder relations.
Builders are trying to get their work done, and asset owners want to see what's happening, but there is often a disconnect created from a builders information management system and what the owner expects to see.
An asset owner and operators wants to see progress photos, daily reports and defect and punch lists like this being completed. But a builder often struggles to get this information from the site to the office, let alone in a professional format which they can send to a client.
This is where real-time software systems become really powerful.
These systems enable builders and their workers to keep track of what's happening on site while it's happening. Instead of writing a report, scanning it onto a computer, sending it to an administrator to send it to the client, a worker on site can quickly fill in their daily report on a mobile app and then send an instantly generated report in a clean and professional format.
Builders can also send progress photos and generate photo reports and defect lists which help create trust and transparency throughout the process.
These systems don't solve all problems. They still require buy-in from the people on site and good coordination.
But they do put the power of information into the hands of the builder, and create a much more streamlined and reliable source of information for the client which help to build really strong and positive stakeholder relationships.
Feel free to use the sample complaint letter against builder above to improve the structure and outcomes of your complaints.
But also look to some more improved methods of project management and delivery as well. Ask the builder what tools they will be using to manage the project, and which parts of the project you will and will not see.
Like most things in life, when two parties want a mutually beneficial outcome, keeping them on the same page throughout is the key to avoiding issues - and to avoiding builder complaint letters altogether.