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Builder not followed plans...roof too low on extension and other issues

(44 Posts)
bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 22:14:18

Oh god I dont know where to start
Name change as this story will identify me!

We bought a run down Victorian terrace which needed gutting. We employed a builder who we knew as he did a massive project next door to our old house and the finish was good, we liked him, and there didnt seem to be any major problems.

An architect drew up plans, we submitted planning permission and listed building consent (grade 2 listed). We have had a single storey kitchen building out and into side return extension, created open plan living/dining/playroom, bathroom moved upstairs, new stairs etc etc

The floor for the kitchen went in this week. It meant the ceiling looked worryingly low. We measured it, and it is 20cm lower than the plans. Our expensive kitchen wont fit now - well they'll have to take the plinth off the tall units so now it wont line up and look right. Also there are two steels which are meant to be flush with the ceiling above in the old part of the kitchen, and these are hanging below - so now that section of the kitcheb looks quite boxed in rather than sleek. I'm not really explaning this vey well..

Basically he's done his own thing rather than follow the plans, apparently because he had difficulty getting the beams in. (not sure I believe this he has form for lying to us) The whole roof on the extension is too low, prob by 30cm.

He wasnt even going to tell us - even though he had the kitchen plan which said a minimum height needed for the tall units (taken from architects plans with some leeway).

We have had problems with him previously - he moved a wall in the kids bedroom in further than on the plans (to get loft stairs up) which makes the bedroom smaller, he used metric rather than imperial bricks as specified by conservation officer (luckily she passed it), made the bifold door opening smaller so now we have to get bespoke doors etc etc...

Relations were good to start. His finish is of high quality and he has a good eye for detail. I like (? liked him)

Rather stupidly because I trusted him we had no contract (and didnt think if it to be honest - i know i know stupid). Initially I was probably too friendly taking fresh coffee and cake etc and now he is getting annoyed with me for sending curt emails asking what has happened.

He is NEVER wrong and it is always someone elses fault.....

Oh shit. This is a nightmare. I am due dc3 in 7 weeks and we are about to move into another temporary accom/house of friend as the house is still not liveable. Oh, did I say it was 2 months late already and we have already put the kitchen delivery back 6 weeks

Any ideas what I can do?

Thanks for getting this far

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 22:28:07

anyone - please???

or do you know of a forum that might help?

EMS23 Thu 26-Jul-12 22:34:55

If get legal advice as it sounds like the whole thing needs to be redone.

tricot39 Thu 26-Jul-12 22:35:58

I have every sympathy with you. A similar situation has now happened to us twice (except I had a detailed priced scope of works which made the money side easier) and it is just so frustrating.

First time we got a highly recommended builder - and the week before our job started he sacked all his direct labour and subcontracted our job to an idiot with sub-DIY skills. It was terribly quailty and 16 weeks over on a 12 week programme by the time we got other people in to fix the bodges. The boss eventually apologised unreservedly but it was too little too late.

Second time I was super cautious and went with a builder reccomended by a picky architect friend and who had done some lovely joinery for us. He talked-the-talk but just built what he liked, ignoring the drawings, and the onus was on us to correct things and coordinate between trades. It was exhausting and 10 weeks late on a 12 week programme.

You don't want to hear this but you should probably make arrangements for somewhere to stay with the new baby. Even if you are decorating etc after they leave you don't want to bring a newborn home to that. It will probably make you feel better if you know that you have somewhere sorted to come home to (assuming that it is not a homebirth??).

I would suggest that you get back to the original architect and ask for some suggestions on how to unify the bodged levels in the kitchen - you could perhaps use a floating plasterboard box downstand with lighters in it to disguise the steps. You may have to pay an hour or so consultation fee. Then get on to the kitchen people and get them to adjust the kitchen design if you can so that it doesn't have to be bodged too. If you end up with a solution that looks reasonably OK (even if different to what you planned) then in time you will feel less angry about it all <voice of bitter experience> and noone else will notice.

If you want the work done fairly soon then you must keep relations good (at least superficially) with the builder. Keep buying the cake and keep smiling if you can. It will keep them focussed on the job and mean that they can't write off your comments if you present them in a calm friendly way. It is best done in person and confirmed in writing. Sniffy emails tend to make the builder more likely to spend time being annoyed with you than getting finished! Sadly you also have to just accept that there will be extra expenses to sort out his mistakes.

Hope it is all sorted for you soon!

fossil97 Thu 26-Jul-12 22:38:48

Did you have any agreement at all - he must have put in a quote based on the plans? I take it the architect hasn't had any involvement supervising the site work?

I imagine you will have to have a meeting with a precise list of all your problems and if they can't be fixed, negotiate money off to accommodate them. It sounds like the job is to far along to rebuild the roof sad.

poorbuthappy Thu 26-Jul-12 22:38:50

Solicitor now.
Don't think it matters re contracts. You had plans. He ignored them.
I repeat, solicitor now.

Noqontrol Thu 26-Jul-12 22:40:33

Aren't the planning dept from the council supposed to check it every step of the way? Mine did, no room for error.

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 22:40:44

Thanks for reply. At least the roof needs to come off and extension built taller, and steels put in the right place.
We might not bother do the other stuff he has done wrong.
We have nowhere to live - we rented somewhere for 3 months and have no money to do it again. I'm about to have a baby. I don't think I can just suck it up though - it will bug me forever.

Does anyone know my rights? We didn't have a written contract. I've paid all but £10k - as he's almost finished. I dont have home contents insurance as we couldn't have it when building work going on- so that would have given some free legal advice.

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 22:41:49

Sorry that thanks was to first reply- will read others now

OlympicRelay Thu 26-Jul-12 22:48:16

Suck up cost of legal advice.

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 22:51:37

Thanks so much for replies. Replying on phone so can't scroll up and get posters names- sorry.

Yes we have had a detailed breakdown quote which is good and accurate. We just didn't sign anything saying he had to stick to plans...

The kitchen company can take the plinth off the tall units but it will look shit to be honest. It's a small terrace so the low ceiling really makes a difference.

Oh shit. I should have noticed it before maybe.

poorbuthappy Thu 26-Jul-12 22:56:26

Oh bollocks to that. Notice what? If you were a builder who would be able to notice it then I assume you wouldn't be paying someone else loadsamoney to do the bloody job for you.
Nothing in writing agreeing to stick to plans??? Then what is the point in having plans?? Crap builder. Don't pay. Get to solicitor. Suck up legal costs.

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 22:57:44

Tricot38 so sorry to hear it happened to you and thanks for your helpful suggestions.
We really can't afford to rent anywhere else we have used up all our savings on this project, borrowed loads from my parents and over budget...

Noqontrol Thu 26-Jul-12 23:01:51

But surely this needed to be approved by the council? If the builder hasn't followed the plans then do not pay him any more. I would ring the planning dept and see what they suggest.

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 23:02:39

Poorbuthappy- great name. That's me. I am happy and have to remember that. Noone died. I have a wonderful dh and 2 almost 3 (fingers crossed) children, lovely friends and live in a great (but overpriced area).
This is just the absolute pits though.
I will try and find a solicitor to speak to tomorrow. Scary. I suppose I'm worried that we wont win and then will be lumbered with court expenses. I need to check with another builder to see what the architect has drawn is possible.
Shit shit shit
I love mumsnet.

tricot39 Thu 26-Jul-12 23:03:34

I thought it would bug me forever but it does fade with time. Probably took about 3 years tho! Just threw out all the paperwork yesterday and even seeing the snagging lists wasn't the horror i thought it would be.

The legal route is tricky. You might spend more money and time on that than getting it sorted. It depends how wrong it is.

Changing a roof and steel levels is a massive amount of work and he will say you should have spotted it sooner.

It is worth a quick chat with the architect to see what can be salvaged surely?

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 23:05:26

The building control have passed it all but haven't seen it win the roof on yet. Isn't building control about making it safe though rather than following plans? It's safe. It just looks wrong and doesnt maximise space in the way the architect designed.
The plans did get listed building consent but it looks in keeping so will prob pass that as well

So builders absolutely have to follow the plans, by law?

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 23:06:51

Yes i prob should have spotted- but surely he should have discussed it with us when he put it in a different place?

tricot39 Thu 26-Jul-12 23:07:04

Just to add that plans often vary during the course of the job due to unforeseen circumstances. Op will spend years arguing the toss about that paying a solicitor then still have to pay to get the bodges sorted. The legal route isn't worth the hassle or risk ime.

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 23:07:17

Yes I will def get architect out.

bloodybuilder Thu 26-Jul-12 23:08:32

Hmm that's my worry.

If there are unforeseen circumstances then shouldn't he tell us what they are rather than leave it too late to do anything about it??

Noqontrol Thu 26-Jul-12 23:08:43

Well i thought they did, but maybe thats just the experience i had here. The planning dept were a bit OTT really, strutting around in shiny shoes holding tape measures, but at least it turned out ok (ish). I'd ring them first and take it from there. But do not pay any more at this stage.

tricot39 Thu 26-Jul-12 23:09:43

Yes he should have discussed it but his argument would be that it changes nothing.... Winning a legal argument in this situation is very difficult and often pointless.

poorbuthappy Thu 26-Jul-12 23:10:19

Not building control, planning.
Bulding control is all about safety, energy levels etc. Planning is about sticking to plans.
Where did you get the builder from? Recommended? Advert? Cheapest quote? (not being sarcastic just asking questions honest smile)
have you spoken to any other customers? Does this builder have form? Google is your friend here...

Yes legal is tricky, and that's what bastard people who rip you off bank on: you don't want to have to deal with the hassle etc etc.
Makes me mad. angry

tricot39 Thu 26-Jul-12 23:17:04

Oh hang on. Re-checking your posts you have a listed building. Check with the conservation officer- i think there is a more onerous requirement to stick to the plans in that case. By not agreeing changes with you and planning he has taken on more responsibility for it changes not being approved.

You could try using that to scare him into raising the roof but i would try to find a way of living with the steels if you can.

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