Samuel Thomas Construction v J&B Developments 2

United Kingdom

If works combine work relating to a dwelling with other works, the works may not "principally" relate to a dwelling, and be caught by the Act. A residential occupier does not have to be in occupation at the time of the contract, nor does the building have to be a dwelling at that time.

HHJ Overend, Exeter District Registry

28 January 2000

J&B, a partnership formed by a husband and wife, purchased four barns in Devon. It intended to convert two of them, one for itself, and the other for sale. It engaged S to carry out building works.

Disputes arose as S said that he had not been fully paid, and J&B claimed S was in delay. S terminated the contract, and asked for an adjudicator to be appointed. J&B said that the contract was one with a residential occupier, and therefore there was no right to adjudicate implied. The adjudicator decided to continue with the adjudication and awarded sums to S. S applied to court to enforce that decision.

The court had to determine two questions. The first was whether the work was "on a dwelling." Second, was the contract an agreement that principally related to a dwelling.

The Court said that the residential occupier does not have to be in occupation for the contract to be one with a residential occupier. It was irrelevant that the barn was not a dwelling at the time of the contract, since it was at some stage to become a dwelling. However, the work was not "principally" relating to a dwelling. The works also concerned the barn to be sold, plus works on a garage block, a courtyard and drainage. It was not possible to say that work principally related to a dwelling, and therefore the contract was not exempt from the Act.

If works combine work relating to a dwelling with other works, the works may not "principally" relate to a dwelling, and be caught by the Act. A residential occupier does not have to be in occupation at the time of the contract, nor does the building have to be a dwelling at that time.