WWYD- nightmare tradesman

(19 Posts)
Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 00:14:29

Last Thursday I gave a tradesman access to my apartment (handed sanitised keys over socially distanced) for the purposes of undertaking works as agreed. I do not live there at present. The tradesman is known to a close friend and has been for years, so I overlooked my reservations about handing keys over (big mistake: huge!).

I should note it’s a ground floor and in advance of any works I put dust sheets down everywhere and all the (large) windows were covered in newspaper for security/ privacy.

As I can’t physically be there due to covid rules and due to the apartment being unoccupied, there is a security system, including cctv. This is advertised on doors and windows and I made the tradesman aware as a courtesy. No issues raised.

He starts the job and send daily updates which is really helpful. On Saturday, I take a walk down with DP and we view the works from the windows to remain compliant. I notice the dust sheet is off one of the beds, there is another person inside (!) and all newspapers on windows removed. I raise this and am told that ‘that’s my son’ and earlier in the day a decorator ‘who was in the area’ popped round to give an opinion. Wtf?

I entrusted my keys to someone who has abused that and in a pandemic. There are also my neighbours to consider who share communal areas. I was very angry.

Fast forward to earlier in the week, I asked for a completion date and was fobbed off and told that a key tradesman was coming in to the apartment on Tuesday. When I asked for details of said tradesman who was entering my home (!) I was hit with defensive messages such as ‘I am so disappointed in you, I’ve 45 years of experience and never been questioned on a tradesman’. I don’t think my request in the circumstances and given it’s my home was unreasonable.

At that point, and upon speaking to DP, I advised tradesman (in writing) to provide details of this additional tradesman and until such time as he could, works could not proceed.

The tradesman then went round my apartment and switched off all the security devices which I received notification of.

He then backtracked about the details of the secondary and specialist tradesman (because, I think, he was going to attempt skilled work to try and get away with it himself and pocket the £3k). All of a sudden the tradesman couldn’t come due to COVID risk etc. He then tried to take back some ‘power’ telling me that he would let me know the info when he was good and ready.

At this point I asked him to leave and pop keys in letterbox. Bizarrely upon realising I wouldn’t succumb no nonsense games and I won’t be lied to, he switched all the cameras back up and began to work again- despite me asking him to leave. Read receipts demonstrated he received this.

He refused three times to leave. I was quite stressed about it all.

Eventually, he left and I did a quick walk by this evening to confirm the keys were in order. My apartment is what I can only describe a mess. Dust sheets I carefully replaced have been removed and the place requires a lot of work to get back to scratch. All of that will have to wait as it needs many days to become safe owing to the people entering.

However, and if you’ve got this far, thank you.. he has absolutely trashed my really expensive dyson hoover which was in immaculate condition. I am so angry about this. It’s full of bulging materials and the nozzle and hose are all twisted and plastic bent. I honestly can’t believe it.

So what I’m asking is wtf do I do now? I am not unreasonable and fully acknowledge I asked him to leave before this were complete (will bring someone else in when safe to do so), but omg my hoover? The works are being paid for by my buildings manager owing to the urgency / seriousness, so it’s not like I can deduct cost of a new hoover from what’s owed to date for materials / labour.

Looking for the best way to approach this generally with him on email as I’ve not heard further since I asked him to leave.


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Cherrysoup Wed 13-Jan-21 00:21:04

Small claims court? Has he actually done any decent work? I got rid of a tradesman last year who was meant to fit a cooker hood-didn’t manage to make it work, my dh fixed it. Put holes in the newly plastered ceiling when fitting a door. Wanker.

Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 00:23:48

Eugh, sorry to hear about your situation too. I am always so wary of tradesman and this happening reminds me why.

I suppose I could threaten the small claims court in a letter but first have to offer him opportunity to put right?

He's an idiot as there as a further 150 apartments he could have gained work from and mine was the pilot. Building manager won't proceed with him now.

Don't know why after '45 years' he didn't have his own tools and why I had to go round and meticulously put dust sheets on everything.. only for them to be removed!

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Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 00:31:11

As for decent job... so so.

I felt that his reactions to reasonable questions left me very uncomfortable, plus bringing people into my apartment without my consent was a stretch too far.

Switching off my security system was a sure sign he was about to do something he shouldn't have as it was ok for him for the five days prior he had been working there!

The main issues post work are the state of expensive linens, curtains, fabric beds and the poor dyson. It's the complete disregard for my things- I don't know what more I could have done.

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SynchroSwimmer Wed 13-Jan-21 00:32:30

Could you get your partner involved - and the chap for details of his “Tradesmans Insurance” as you need to make a claim for damaged Dyson....as a starting point - and see how he reacts to that?

I should think this is quite intimidating for you, but equally, presumably he has some sort of reputation that he needs to keep if he is working in the locality - sounds like you have the ammunition of his unprofessional behaviour that you could use - if it proves necessary.

Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 00:34:42

Thank you for that suggestion @SynchroSwimmer , I hadn't thought about any level of trades insurance.

He's a relatively small timer that I can see and it vat registered. The wife does invoicing etc on a Hotmail address ..

Not sure he would have insurances, but it's a great suggestion to see how he reacts.

In what parallel universe is it acceptable to use a domestic hoover for trades purposes and thrash it?!

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Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 00:38:44

* isn't vat registered

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SynchroSwimmer Wed 13-Jan-21 00:45:08

Theres a thing called small tradesman insurance....if he says he hasn’t got it, that’s another arrow for your bow, or whatever the expression is, you can appear shocked as “that is what tradesmen are supposed to have”. Might put the wind up him a bit and or make him a bit more conciliatory.

Like you, I’m despairing myself, my husband was a highly regarded tradesman and we used to hear all those shocking stories of bad workmanship and terrible attitudes. And now I too have to experience and deal with it myself, tradesmen being disrespectful, frying electrical circuit boards through their own negligence, then billing me for their mistake....and so it goes on until you can’t bear to let them back in your home again.

Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 00:49:41

Do you know if it's compulsory @SynchroSwimmer

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SynchroSwimmer Wed 13-Jan-21 01:14:21

Probably not legally enforceable, but anyone setting up as a sole trader or in business “should” have a policy.
They didn’t use to be expensive - £100 a year - will be more now.
It might be enough to put the wind up him anyway.

Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 07:41:09

Will defo reference this in my letter. I suppose the only way of legally enforcing he pays up is through the small claims court?

Anyone got any experience of this?

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Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 11:06:56

At what point should I email him ?

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Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 13:09:45


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Littlegoth Wed 13-Jan-21 13:16:31

Look up ‘letter before action’ template. The small claims court will want to see evidence that you have given a chance to put it right - this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to let him back in to do physical work (I know I certainly wouldn’t!) but that you are giving him a chance to reimburse you etc before you take it to court.

Good luck, what a nightmare! X

Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 13:26:08

Thank you @Littlegoth . I asked him to leave (several times yesterday) and at that point my main concern was getting my keys back from him and security of my home.

Now I am aware I need to formally advise him the works are terminated and that whilst I will liaise with the building manager with a view to paying him for materials / work to date, I almost wanted to use the damage to the vacuum as leverage. I.e. you firstly will have to put right the damage you've caused - but not sure if that is the right legal and moral thing to do? What do you think?

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Littlegoth Wed 13-Jan-21 13:45:22

I would be expecting him to replace everything that was damaged as a result of his negligence. Note in the letter that he turned off the security, this doesn’t look good at all. I would spell out in the letter how he damaged the item eg removed dust sheet resulting in damage to X. I would get 3 quotes for cleaning/repairs/replacement and go with the middle value of each - list it in the letter and explain how you got to that figure.

I would also note that if you do take it to court you will be applying for the costs to be covered by him too.

It’s not unreasonable for you to ask for this as a first step to small claims court if he rejects it. Citizens advice should be able to assist you with this too.

You already told him in writing that he was to down tools (the text) and you have a read receipt showing he received it. I wouldn’t be paying for anything that took place after this, and arguably I wouldn’t be paying him for anything you need to now pay someone to fix (this last bit though I’d get legal advice on).

sofiaaaaaa Wed 13-Jan-21 13:51:39

Legally your payment for his work and his payment to rectify the damaged hoover are separate. I think you have to pay him as to not breach your contract (else he can take you to court) then separately chase him through the courts to claim for the damage. I don’t think you can withhold money as a solution.

But I could be wrong, highly recommend calling the citizens advice bureau. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to do for resolve this in line with legislation.

2bazookas Wed 13-Jan-21 14:01:47

Take pictures before you clean up, of dyson damage, mess, and work done. Keep camera tapes.

Notify your buildings manager of the mess left and damage done and instruct him to withhold £xxxx from payment to the contractor.

Notify your household insurer and inform the buildings manager you have done so.

Thestateofplay Wed 13-Jan-21 15:18:30

@2bazookas thank you for that, really helpful. Only thing about deducting the £ from building manager is that that doesn't help me recover the costs of damage if you see what I mean?

He would still owe me for at least the replacement hoover. I don't think I can ask the buildings manager (communal money) to foot the bill for that, for someone else's mistake / negligence.

Does that make sense? Appreciate because of the billing arrangements it's a bit of a headache

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