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Building work gone wrong, what should we pay?

(25 Posts)
leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 13:43:16

We've been having new windows put in and its hard to describe quite how badly its all gone - from delays to schedule (due to no glass?!), to huge amounts of dirt and dust, to 6 windows in 3 rooms that'd been put in that need to be taken out to put them in so they're straight! Oh and work that should have been done over 4 consecutive days has now dragged out over a month (I hope thats all, its not finished yet!) - admittedly the timescale is partly as it now needs to be done at weekends, as I work from home, but also they're having problems finding people to work (understandably).

They've agreed to compensate me for cleaning the worst affected room (although after this was done the door was fitted last weekend and next weekend the 3 windows need to be taken out again and re-done - so all in all it'll need cleaning 3 times and they've paid for 1), loss of earnings while cleaning was done and for replacing equipment damaged by the dust.

After this compensation I'll still owe them about £1000 (total cost originally was almost £8000) and I genuinely don't think they deserve it for the mess and distress this has caused (not to mention having no weekends for a month!) but legally where do we stand? After agreeing initial compensation they said they'd discuss it again after work was completed and we were happy with it and I wondered what other people thought was reasonable.

Hope it all makes sense, I've tried to keep it short and not rant too much, but any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.

minipie Tue 13-Sep-11 16:23:51

Legally you owe them the price for the work they have done (assuming they have actually completed), less fair compensation for your financial loss due to their cock ups and delays - i.e. loss of earnings, cleaning costs, equipment replacement. Lost weekends and distress aren't worth much in the law's eyes I'm afraid, unless you can show why that cost you money.

It sounds like you have already agreed compensation of about £7000, ie reducing the total payment of £8000 to £1000. If so then I think you've done very well to get them to agree to that! Sorry you've had a nightmare but legally it sounds like what you've agreed is the best you could do.

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 16:47:41

Oh sorry, I really do wish they'd agreed we could pay £1000 instead of (almost) £8000! That would be good. grin - and a very fair price for the mess and hassle its all been.

What I meant was we'd already paid £6000 in advance of the work, they've agreed compensation of £900-£1000 ish (for the cleaning, replacement of goods etc), so I still 'owe' them the final £1000 (which I don't feel they should have as they've been so rubbish!).

They said ages ago that they'd discuss further compensation when the job was completed to our satisfaction, which hopefully it will be after this weekend - bar 1 window, which is put in too close to the outer edge of the wall, but can't be taken out and re-fitted due to the immense amount of work it'd be to move everything in the room again. sad

So, before its finished and they call to tell me I owe them the final £1K I wanted to get some ideas of what compensation would be valid for the emotional distress and nuisance of it all?!

narmada Tue 13-Sep-11 16:50:14

I think you need to consult some sort of lawyer or citizen's advice centre.
Sounds horrendous and you should definitely not have to pay them the full amount.

And in future, you won't be paying trades in advance for jobs, right??!!

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 17:14:25

Narmada sad I know its rubbish to pay in advance. I did try to get out of it, but they had a standard contract that asked for 25% when you signed the contract and 50% 5 days before the work started and wouldn't negotiate. I thought I'd done what I could by going for a small(ish, well local, not one of the Anglian/Everest type) company that had successfully done work for a friend.

Maybe CAB is the way to go? sad

I'm just so fed up with the whole situation. All I wanted was shiny new windows and they've completely trashed the whole situation. Even now they're supposedly all apologetic and trying to 'do whatever they can to fix the situation' they're still making a mess wherever they work and needing such careful supervision (ie window lintel not 100% straight, so window will look slightly uneven, but no-one came to tell me, oh no, they just merrily go on fitting until I checked and asked them about it- grrrr!) that I feel I may as well be fitting them myself!

minipie Tue 13-Sep-11 17:14:28

Oh I see. Well in that case I would certainly withhold any further payment of the £1000 while you negotiate the additional compensation. And I would argue with them that the additional compensation should amount to most of the £1000!

But from a strict legal perspective, English law doesn't generally compensate for hassle unless you can show why the hassle cost you money.

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 17:42:08

sad Minipie, if hassled/distress doensn't warrant any compensation then is there any reason I can ask for additional compensation? Or is it just on the basis of their goodwill.

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 17:42:46

'hassle' even

minipie Tue 13-Sep-11 17:46:38

Their goodwill, plus maybe you can say that if they compensate you properly you will not relate your bad experience to all your friends/neighbours/internet strangers... wink

minipie Tue 13-Sep-11 17:46:52

or rather, you will not name them!

noddyholder Tue 13-Sep-11 17:49:41

I would say that you will pay them the final £1000 when all the work and cleaning is done to a good standard and there is no snagging list or anything outstanding. Otherwise tell them you will contact trading standards although if you the first thing they will do is give them a chance to right the wrong and you will have to pay. I think 900-1000 is fairly good compensation if the work is satisfactory in the end. How much did you lose for work? Do you have accounts etc to prove this

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 17:57:03

Ok thanks, depressing but good to know where I stand.

I have mentioned several times to them that I chose them because they were recommended to me and asked did they feel I should recommend them in the future etc. I did half-mention litigation at one point when the work 1st went very wrong and the comment was 'well if you want to then we'd say go for it and its nigh on impossible to prove' - so I definitely feel they're people where you get more by going in gently than threatening. sad Its so much easier if there's a physical/concrete problem to say I want compensation because you broke Xyz rather than saying 'you've all been rubbish and DH and I have been in bits with the stress and upset of it all' - which is all wishy-washy.

I have compiled a 2-page dated list of whats gone wrong so far, which has relieved my feelings a bit, so maybe that'll shame them into doing something? Not sure they'd have heard of Mumsnet, so thats probably not much of a threat.

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 18:08:17

Mmmm noddyholder. The £900ish is what its cost us to physically replace goods, pay for cleaners/sofa cleaners (as sofa was full of plaster dust after they angle-grinded windows out) etc. So whilst its a sizeable amount, from their perspective, all its done is replace what we had, so we're no better off - just giving it to other people not them. Almost half of the money was for 1 piece of electrical equipment which was 4 days old - so we're literally no better off - and we had the hassle of arranging cleaners, buying replacements etc. Yes I can prove what I lost for a day's work if asked to.

I am definitely giving them a chance to put it right. But its just taking so much effort to organise it all - and when next weekend they'll be re-doing the windows they put in 3 weeks ago... it feels like I'm cleaning again and again and we're not getting anywhere!

But, bar the 1 window that feasibly can't be taken out again I think it will all be finished to a reasonable standard - eventually!

ChitChattingWithKids Tue 13-Sep-11 18:31:38

Compensation is not supposed to make you 'better off'. It is to put you in a position of where you would have been financially if the work had been done properly.

So sorry, it is highly unlikely you would get compensation for 'hassle' or loss of time unless you made it clear in the contract what the consequences of going over time would be. You could, however, get compensation for a window installed incorrectly that is not possible to correct.

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 18:53:34

I probably phrased that badly - I was replying to Noddyholder saying "I think 900-1000 is fairly good compensation if the work is satisfactory in the end." - which suggested (possibly only to me) I'd be 'gaining' by that much - I was trying to explain that we wouldn't be.

I just feel its unfair that we've had a month of hassle, stress, constant cleaning, disruption, having to be super-vigilant over work done, having windows refitted (which can't be good for them) - when we paid a premium to go with a 'good' company who promised a no-mess, in and out in 4 days job.

ChitChattingWithKids Tue 13-Sep-11 18:57:02

Well if they promised that time frame within their contract, that would be different. Then the time it took to complete the job IS an integral part of the contract, and therefore you should be compensated for it. Even if it's not in their contract, if it's in their brochures, or anything like that (even in their verbal pitter patter) you might be entitled to a discount. However if they said 'if all goes well we SHOULD be in and out in 4 days', again no chance!

mistlethrush Tue 13-Sep-11 19:06:58

What about contacting Which ?

JumpJockey Tue 13-Sep-11 19:15:44

Are you by any chance in Cambridge? Only this sounds like the situation we ended up in getting a door and window made - neither was the right size for the openings, the door was too wide by nearly a foot... And it delayed the kitchen fitters being able to get started, incurred extra costs for us etc. Door as supplied also didn't look like the one in the drawings (pic was of a very plain half-glazed door, they brought one with a decorative lower panel??). In the end we said we'd take off the extra costs they caused from our kitchen fitters, and withhold 10% unless they made a door that was like the one we'd ordered. Cut our losses, basically.

JumpJockey Tue 13-Sep-11 19:16:37

Just to add, we did this after consulting the CAB and trading standards who gave us the right acts to quote.

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 20:15:29

No, not Cambridge. Sad to know there are other similar shoddy firms around though.

With us, its less that the product is poor (its supposed to be high-spec), its more that the people fitting it just seem to throw them in any old way - so many of them aren't and don't look straight.

ChitChattingWithKids - no, sadly its not in the contract, just what they originally agreed. I guess as they also now say they're doing it very slowly and carefully we can't really complain about the time (well I clearly can!). The mess I did ask about specifically and they (the salesman) did categorically say 'no mess at all. We put dustsheets down and hoover after and you'd never known we'd been here.' - which I'd dispute! Apparently the person who measured for the final time should have pointed out that as plaster needed cutting back there'd be dust, but the usual surveyor was on holiday, so we had someone else who didn't know/think to tell us.

leeloo1 Tue 13-Sep-11 20:17:25

Mistlethrush, thanks for the suggestion, but I've never heard of Which in this context? Who would I contact and what would their interest in it be?

Thanks to everyone else whose taken time to reply as well - even if it wasn't what I wanted to hear, its reconciling me to the fact I'll probably need to pay them the extra £1000 - even they so deeply don't deserve it!

mistlethrush Wed 14-Sep-11 08:55:50

I know that some people contact Which with their problems with shoddy work, bad companies etc and which act on their behalf - I don't know whether you need to be a member or anything - but it would be worth seeing if you could find something out on their website or something?

minipie Wed 14-Sep-11 12:27:58

"who promised a no-mess, in and out in 4 days job"

Ah now this does make a difference.

In that case, you can say you have not had what you were promised. Yes you have had the windows, but you have not had the service you were promised. Therefore you should pay a lower price. (As well as being compensated for your financial losses).

So I would definitely say you should knock off the extra £1000 because you did not get the service you were promised.

If the promise isn't in the contract, that makes things harder for you, but it's still not impossible. I would still make the argument.

leeloo1 Sat 17-Sep-11 08:38:36


Well, despite them promising that the work would be finished this weekend (and being so apologetic about it taking so long) there is no sign of any workmen. I tried to get hold of someone to find out what was going on since Thursday lunchtime and kept being told someone would call me back... but no-one has. I'm so f'd off with it all. Fair enough if they can't get people to work, but couldn't they have the decency to actually call and tell me? B*st&rds!

I really feel that they're trying to wear me down - I start off feeling strong and determined to get a good job done - then after 2 days of being on tenterhooks waiting for someone to get back to me I'm ready to cry and beg them to send anyone round (well I would if I could get anyone on the phone to beg to!). sad

minipie - no it wasn't in the contract sadly, just the salesman talk. But apparently he didn't know how hard it'd be and the real surveyor (who should have known and been able to tell me) was on holiday and the chap I had measure up (the owner of the blessed company!) now works in sales and doesn't have specialised knowledge anymore, so clearly couldn't have told me either.

GrottyPotPlant Sat 17-Sep-11 19:19:55

Surely it's not your fault if their sales team (and the owner) are poorly informed and are making promises that are hard for the fitters to keep?!? That's an internal thing for them to sort out!
I know I've had enough trouble in my job trying to keep stupid salesperson promises, and the company has made losses on jobs because of that. But that was our problem- not the client's.
Oh god, I need to get a window fitted soon, I've got the fear now...

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