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To think tradesman should have told me it was his first time?

(30 Posts)
LurkingHubby Fri 10-Mar-17 10:17:00

We are currently having work done in our house - what would be considered a large and potentially unusual project for the trade involved. Although it has not been explicitly said, we are now of the opinion that it is the first time this tradesman has undertaken such a project: the work is progressing very slowly (we are now a week in to what we thought was a one-week project and not even one-third finished), and the quality of what has been delivered so far is not what we would expect from a professional - in fact Monday will be spent putting right what has been done so far this week.
We chose the individual because he was friendly and pleasant and seemed to be offering the best service - but we are now regretting our decision and considering options for finding someone else to complete the job. I would have expected to have been told that this was the first time he had done such a project, as this would form part of our decision-making. AIBU?

Kiroro Fri 10-Mar-17 10:18:33

Did you get references?

Did you ask about his experience in doing this type of project?

StarUtopia Fri 10-Mar-17 10:18:37

YABU for not asking to see examples of his previous work.

Surely you pick a builder based on personal recommendation?! i.e. a friend has had similar work done etc.

LEELULUMPKIN Fri 10-Mar-17 10:23:01

My DH is very friendly and pleasant but I wouldn't trust him to put a picture frame up! Sorry that's not very helpful but first rule of engaging tradesmen - references, examples of similar previous work, etc, etc.

pilates Fri 10-Mar-17 10:27:19

Tradesmen - word of mouth, always.

Mulberry72 Fri 10-Mar-17 10:28:25

Did you check references, examples of previous similar work, actually ask him if he'd undertaken similar projects? YABU if you didn't!

BigSandyBalls2015 Fri 10-Mar-17 10:29:51

I read the title and thought you'd been shagging the tradesman and he was a virgin grin

Blodplod Fri 10-Mar-17 10:46:03

As replies above.. but actually in my experience a 'recommendation' still doesn't guarantee a good tradesperson! Firstly, how are you paying? Are you paying a daily rate or did you get a quote upfront and expect to pay that amount inclusive of materials? How serious are the mistakes he needs to rectify? How bad is the quality and 'not what you would expect from professionals' etc.. obviously, providing more details surrounding your project would help but in my experience if you are not happy, bring it up now and get a clear understanding between you and your builder as to why the mistakes happened, how he intends to rectify and your concerns about the quality of his work going forward. I have found that good communication on both sides is crucial, your understanding of a quality finished job and time expectations could very hugely to his. Do not be backwards coming forwards and if you are seriously considering getting someone else in to finish the job do it sooner rather than later.

I speak from very bitter experience.... I had a builder who came very very recommended by a trusted friend, I saw examples of his work, discussed it to death, had him work with my architects etc and he still screwed me for thousands.. I sacked him on a Friday, just before going on holiday for a week and had to leave my home insecure with a huge hole in the roof whilst I was away... i ended up with new builders who were fantastic and finished the job but my only regret was not sacking him weeks beforehand when I first started to get suspicious..

Oh! And take loads and loads of photos...

highinthesky Fri 10-Mar-17 10:47:50

No tradesman is going to volunteer this information. You were remiss in not asking directly.

You need a direct conversation with him about his experience and plan B should he get stuck with any aspect of the project. Whatever you do, do not pay him upfront! That's a fast track to losing the lot.

BakeOffBiscuits Fri 10-Mar-17 10:55:06

A bad tradesman is never going to tell you they haven't done the work before because they are probably desperate for the work!

Always go on on recommendations for trades people OR get references.

LurkingHubby Fri 10-Mar-17 11:15:58

Thanks Blodplod (and others) - helpful comments.
I take the feedback about previous work. He was recommended on a local social media group, backed up with a good number of positive reviews and comments (though not the specific project he is doing for us). He is also using some other trades, which of course we have no control over and which are adding to the issues.
We have a total figure agreed, and have paid for materials up-front (which are now all on-site). I don't think the quality is irretrievable, but it will likely lead to some wastage. He's now finished for the week, so will make sure I speak to him first thing Monday morning and agree a way forward.

Blodplod Fri 10-Mar-17 11:27:58

Can I suggest also suggest that on Monday when you discuss with your builder you do this in a formal meeting type of way and sit down with a coffee and proceed in a manner of 'project management'. Do not be afraid to get him to outline his projected finish dates for each part of the project. In other words (example only of course!). Roof is finished by weds 15th, plasterers arrive on 17th and complete by 20th allowing first fix of electrics to start by 21st... etc etc. Having a clear timeline between each stage and complimenting trades people gives you a better grasp of the project and a realistic expectation of when certain phases should be completed by. Ask him to break down the finite steps of the project day by day if you need to. And please don't worry about being pushy about this! A good builder should have nothing to hide, should have planned and project managed this anyhow. If say, plasterers are supposed to turn up on the 20th and your roof for example is a week off being finished by then you have a clear starting point to start raising your concerns! I've also found out from bitter experience that builders are not necessarily good project managers...

melj1213 Fri 10-Mar-17 11:53:42


You say in your OP that your project is an "unusual" one, so that should have been something that was discussed up front before you hired the guy - especially since you haven't had him do work for you personally and you admit that you saw no evidence he'd ever undertaken a project like yours.

All the issues you are having seem to stem from the fact that you didn't sit and set out your expectations first and didn't ask any pertinant questions relating to his experience and your specific project before you hired him: "So we know this is unusual, have you done this before? Have you experienced this before? Do you know how to do this? Do you feel confident this is something you can do? How long do you think this project will take?"

Also if it was only supposed to take a week and he's only 1/3 done either he's really bad at time management or you were being unrealistic about the time it was going to take and didn't factor in external issues. Like for example the electrician needing 3hrs to do his thing before the plasterer can get started and the decorator needs the plastering to be done and given 24hrs to dry before he starts his 4 hrs work, so technically less than 2 days work but if the electrician can only come Wednesday lunchtime but the plasterer isn't free till Thursday, then the decorator can't get started until Saturday morning because the plastering hasn't dried enough when he turned up on Friday afternoon and that 2 days work has already turned into 4 days right there just due to the individual issues with your project and/or the schedules of the tradespeople involved.

Blodplod Fri 10-Mar-17 12:05:40

To be fair Melj1213, we don't know all of the details you have outlined regards the initial consultation between client and tradesperson and advice for both parties should be how to rectify going forwards. I have indeed sacked 2 sets of builders during my major renovations. I totally hold my hands up with the 1st set as I simply trusted them on recommendation from a friend and having had no experience of any building work before just blissfully trusted that they would just sort everything out! By their own admission the project was far too complicated and involved for them but a: I didn't ask the right questions and b: they weren't honest in their abilities. I certainly know far more now, but both my husband and I (working professionals at the time) had zero experience to even begin to know what to ask and expect. My third builder was a completely different story and by then I had more experience to help me avoid pitfalls. I just think it's a bit rash to dive in and say the OP was all wrong in their approach when we don't know the full story. Now is the time to think about damage limitation and trust that the rest of the project runs smoothly on both sides.

Trifleorbust Fri 10-Mar-17 12:20:24

BigSandyBalls2015: Me too!

melj1213 Fri 10-Mar-17 12:24:15

No we dont but the OP posted to ask if she was being unreasonable to expect the tradesman to have not mentioned it was their first time. when she admits she doezn't even know that it is the first time, she is just summizing it from the work he's done.

We have the OP's own words in that she hired him because he was "friendly, pleasant and offered the best service" and had no idea whether or not he had experience of the specific "unusual" job they had hired him for and so IMHO it is unreasonable to then judge the tradesman's work when they had ample opportunity to have sorted this before the project start with a few questions.

My very first question to any tradesman, who I am asking to do an unusual project would be "Have you done this before?", the fact the OP hasn't asked this very basic question (as they have no idea if they have or not) shows that they are partly responsible for the issues they have subsequently ended up with.

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Fri 10-Mar-17 12:28:19

He's not obliged to tell you, just as in any other trade.

You'd be alarmed if your dentist told you it was his first day, or you were on a flight and the pilot informed you over the tannoy that this was his first landing so buckle up.

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Fri 10-Mar-17 12:54:17

If your tradesman has already given you a set price then although it's inconvenient that he's taking far longer than anticipated, it could be viewed as a positive sign. He will be spending longer aiming to get the job right and rectifying any mistakes as he progresses, even though he will be earning far less in terms of man hours.

Obviously a more experienced tradesmen who can work more efficiently would be better, he at least isn't rushing the job just to get your money.

If you're paying him by the day, however, then OH DEAR, you have a problem.

LurkingHubby Fri 10-Mar-17 12:59:53

Thanks again Blodplod - you are helping to put my project in perspective... nothing like the scale of yours, but still significant (financially and upheaval-ly) for us. Glad your situation was resolved in the end!

TheOnlyLivingToyInNewYork Fri 10-Mar-17 13:03:07

We chose the individual because he was friendly and pleasant and seemed to be offering the best service

If you didn't specifically ask what similar projects he had done before, that was a pretty big thing to have missed off.

LurkingHubby Fri 10-Mar-17 13:09:07

Yes ILostIt - that is a positive, and I believe you have summed up the situation pretty well. He does seem willing to spend the time resolving issues and putting things right.
I appreciate that every tradesman will be doing things for the first time some time, and tbh I am not sure if the information would have changed my ultimate decision on selecting him. What it would have done is allowed me to be more prepared for the delays and needing to fix things; and 'pad' my interpretation of his "should be done by the end of the week".

offblackeggshell Fri 10-Mar-17 13:14:14

We've just had a very similar experience. Except that ours came very highly recommended for exactly the same job, that we'd seen. Three weeks work turned into six months, and we eventually told him to get lost when we found out he had subcontracted some of the work to someone who was not certified to do it.

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Fri 10-Mar-17 13:16:20

I think having a good relationship with your tradesman will help enormously. Communication is key. It sounds as though he is eager to complete a good job, although inexperience will massively affect the length of the job.
I understand your frustration though. In my experience, large jobs always overrun and the mess, worry and upheaval is more than you'd imagined..

I personally hate having tradesmen in the house, and I'm married to one grin

Blodplod Fri 10-Mar-17 16:26:51

Good to see you're viewing his inexperience in a positive light. Everyone has to start somewhere. If this means he does the finished job to budget and it takes a bit longer than both sides anticipated, that, IMHO, is far better than someone who's being doing it years, should know better, does a shoddy job because they can't be arsed and sods off with all your cash!! Good luck OP! Hope it's all beautiful in the end..

weeblueberry Fri 10-Mar-17 16:28:13

I just read this and the above thread together as 'To think escort should have told me it was his first time' and was sort of looking forward to a very interesting story...



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