Tradesmen – tasks, duties & the legal situation

Who does not know it, the problem with the craftsmen? It has become a cliché over the years, but the experience is confirmed again and again. The craftsmen come too late, do not keep appointments or do not leave their workplace as they should. Of course, there are also many exceptions to this prejudice. But what rights and claims do you have if tradesmen misbehave?

Avoiding trouble with tradesmen – delays, mistakes & waste disposal

What is the best way to escape the hassle of tradesmen? Who is really responsible for the resulting garbage and what rights do you have in case of delay or non-observance of the appointment? So that you are prepared for the next visit from the craftsman, all questions around the topic of craftsmen are answered here.

Lateness – tolerance for appointments and punctuality

In principle, craftsmen are given a tolerance of fifteen minutes. However, if you are more than a quarter of an hour late, you are entitled to anew appointment. In this case, the arrival and departure times may only be charged once. If, for example, you have to go to an appointment and the craftsman is late and then stands in front of a closed door, this arrival and departure time may not be charged. However, you can very rarely claim compensation for such a case. Employees who have taken paid leave for the appointment usually come away empty-handed, since the waste of free time is not damage according to the legislator.

In order to protect yourself, you should agree a written contractual penalty with the craftsman’s company for larger construction projects, which becomes due when the deadline is exceeded. For smaller projects or assembly work, however, such an arrangement is not worthwhile in most cases. So if there are no claims for damages, you can still do something about a significant delay or a cancelled appointment without a cancellation. You can, of course, demand a new date and set a reasonable grace period for this. This varies depending on the case. For urgent matters, such as water damage, your deadline may be set quickly. For simple installation work, two weeks is a common deadline. Send a reminder with the deadline by registered mail to the craftsman and only if no result is achieved after the reminder and the craftsman is still not on time, you can withdraw from the contract with the company and hire another. Freelancers, in contrast to employees, can claim loss of earnings as long as they had an appointment with the craftsman, but he still reschedules you.

As a general rule, tradesmen only have to pay compensation if they themselves are at fault. This includes, for example, delays because the craftsman took longer at the previous appointment or because he forgot materials. They are also liable for damages if materials are not delivered by third parties, because craftsmen bear the so-called procurement risk. However, you do not have to pay compensation if the accident at work is due to a serious illness or force majeure. This includes, for example, storm damage in the company.

Garbage, tools & materials – who is responsible?

Craftsmen should leave their workplace swept clean. So if there is a job that causes a lot of dust, the craftsman must sweep the affected area afterwards and leave it swept clean. The rubbish that accumulates during work must also be taken away and disposed of by the tradesmen. When replacing a device, you should agree with the company that the old device and the packaging of the new one will be taken away by the craftsman and disposed of properly.

As a rule of thumb, a quarter of an hour is charged for the journey to and from the company. However, it is best if you agree a flat rate for travel costs with the company in advance. If the craftsman forgets materials or tools, you do not have to pay for the travel costs or the time taken to obtain the new tools/materials. However, if you change your mind and, for example, get a different wall colour painted by your painter, he can transfer the additional costs incurred to you.

Legal basics – what claims and rights do you have?

Often clients do not know the rights and claims that you have against the craftsmen. A small list with the most important conditions:

  • Workmen must take their own rubbish with them
  • Hourly wages are calculated according to qualification: semi-skilled workers and apprentices are charged less than journeymen or master craftsmen.
  • If materials or tools are forgotten by the workman, he may not charge for the journey and the additional time
  • Replaced devices must be taken away and disposed of
  • If the craftsman is more than 15 minutes late, you are entitled to a new appointment. Arrival and departure time may then only be charged once.
  • In the case of assembly work that can be carried out by one fitter, it is not necessarily necessary to pay two fitters.
  • The work site in question must be left swept clean
  • Calculations per hour or part thereof are inadmissible unless agreed in advance.

So that you can be really safe with their next craftsman however, there are still some legal tips, which it gives to consider. Before you decide on a craftsman company, it is advisable to compare in advance both the hourly rates as well as the material prices and the conditions of the company. It is not only price that is important, but also the qualifications. A good company will save you a lot of stress later, which is why it pays to search in advance. Fees for an estimate may only be charged by tradesmen or the company’s customer service if this has been expressly agreed in advance.

Of course, the safest thing for you to do is to agree on a fixed price right from the start, which should not be exceeded in this way. Such fixed price agreements should be regulated in detail and both the scope of the work to be done and the materials should be specified in the order. However, some craftsmen do not offer this service. Therefore, tradesmen without a fixed price must inform them immediately if the estimated costs are significantly exceeded. If the costs are exceeded by 15 to 20 percent, you can cancel the contract, but you still have to pay for the partial services that have been provided up to this point.

Once the work has been completed, you should check whether the services and work have been carried out properly. You do not have to pay for work that is not included in the contract. Do not pay the bill until the acceptance was satisfactory and everything was done according to the contract. If in doubt, consult a specialist. If there are any defects, you must document them on photos. The company must rectify the defects and as long as this has not been done, you can retain part of the invoice amount due until the defects have been rectified. The rule of thumb here is to withhold twice the amount of what it would cost to fix the defects. However, if you discover a defect after acceptance, the company must correct the defects free of charge within a reasonable time. If the defects are not corrected or are not successfully corrected, you can commission another company to carry out the corrections and claim the costs from the original tradesman.