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House renovation clusterfuck!

(12 Posts)
Viserion Wed 01-Mar-17 10:15:16

This is going to be long, sorry, and have name changed as some of it will be quite identifying.

We are in the middle of having the upstairs of our house remodelled (entire 1st floor demolished and rebuilt). It was supposed to be a 4 month build, so complete by end of September last year, giving us time to decorate, fit and finish before Christmas. It has now taken 9 months with no sign of the end in sight. It has been a catalogue of errors and delays right from the beginning, and seems to have just been much bigger and more complex than the building firm realised. For example (there are many others):

1. There will be velux windows in the roof, these could have been fitted before Christmas, but are still not in so even with sheeting in place water keeps getting in and we still have no date for when they will be fitted.

2. We keep being told the carpenter/joiner will be here to level the floors, but he never turns up. The temporary boarding is not tacked down, so there have been 4 occasions when a tradesman has had a board tip up and he has put his foot through to the room below. You can imagine the chaos this causes each time.

3. The scaffolder dropped some of the knuckles on to the roof tiles while taking scaffolding down, so there are now broken tiles which need replacing and there are still sections of the roof ridges etc which are not finished. The builder seems unable to get the roofer to come back and complete the job.

3. Stud walls put in the wrong places, so doorways were too narrow. And doorways built to different heights/widths, so we had to get them to do them all again and move the stud walls.

4. The plasterer has managed to tack a load of the wiring between the joists and the plaster board, so the electrician has had to cut the board away to get to the wiring and make sure it is safe. So now there are multiple extra holes to repair throughout instead of neat fresh plaster.

5. This is the one that has prompted the thread. Two windows were fitted in adjoining rooms at the end of last week. I have been looking at them since, trying to work out what was wrong. I have just realised that they are at different levels (it isn’t obvious from inside, as there is a stud wall between, but from outside, you can see they are one course of bricks different on the sill, and as they are only about 2 metres apart, even on an end wall, it looks awful. The window fitter did not flag that he had two different measurements for the two windows when he measured back in December.

In general, nothing seems to move forward unless we ring them every single day and then someone turns up for a couple of hours and then disappears again.

Meanwhile, we are living downstairs, putting up with the dust and mess, while I attempt to focus on my job which is home based. My child’s behaviour is deteriorating massively and he is struggling at school even more than normal (he has dyslexia and other difficulties), I am absolutely convinced that the stress of the home situation is contributing. I just don’t know how to proceed at this point. I am so stressed, angry and upset and currently hate my once beautiful house and just want to leave. I cry most days about it, my relationship with my husband is falling apart as he feels responsible for having selected this building firm.

The builder has had about 90% of the money out of us, nothing for the last 2 months or so, and I think he has just given up as he knows he has screwed up and is avoiding finishing as he is now losing money on it. I want to give him an ultimatum, to have it all sorted properly and to the appropriate standard by the end of this month, or I will be getting someone else in and suing him for the additional cost. But, I don’t know where I stand legally on this and if we lost a legal claim, we would be stuffed financially.

Any useful advice would be really appreciated. I may not be back for a while as I have to try to get some work done today thanks

namechangedtoday15 Wed 01-Mar-17 10:21:46

Do you have a contract with your builder? Have you provided detailed plans (i.e. with the window levels, positions of doors etc) and he's ignored them or made mistakes?

If you have, then you need to put what you've written in your post in a letter to the builder (list all of the errors, how much time its added on, what additional cost it has caused to date) and give him as you have suggested until the end of the month to rectify (and to provide a detailed response so that you know whether he classes any of this on your failures - i.e. whether you changed plans at the last minute / didn't order supplies on time).

freethebiscuit Wed 01-Mar-17 10:23:21

I'm sorry I have no legal expertise on this but wanted to say sounds like living hell at the moment. I struggled just getting a kitchen ripped out which is nothing in comparison. What kind of original contract did you have? What are their reasons for all the multiple things going wrong and causing such extreme delays? Good luck- hope you get the right result and they shape up. In the meantime is there anybody close by you could stay with for a few nights here or there if just to make it feel like a little break for your family ?

offblackeggshell Wed 01-Mar-17 10:29:53

I'm just wondering if we have the same builder. We are in the seventh month of a six week project. We fortunately have only paid him for work completed, because when we discovered he had lied about his gas safe and NICEIC certificates, we told him to get lost. Trying to find someone to finish all the pissy little jobs and put right his mess is costing us a fortune and silly amounts of stress. I'm sorry that's not much help OP, but you are not alone. In the case of ours, i think he simply took one more jobs than he could handle, and subcontracted out work to people really not equipped to do it.

Are you sure he even ordered the velux? Ours lied for months about having ordered our window and doors. He just hadn't done it because he was on stop with the supplier.

Kiroro Wed 01-Mar-17 10:31:23

That sounds like a total nightmare.

No advice but virtual hugs and good thoughts!

suzyrut Wed 01-Mar-17 11:42:01

Firstly brew or wine for you, depending on when you get back here again. It is horrible living in the middle of building work even when it's going well and to plan.

As a pragmatic option can I suggest contacting another builder to get a quote of how much it would be to put it right?

I would then arrange to meet the builder face to face and give him the option of completing the job to an agreed and documented specification and timescale (including the remedial work required) or that he pays towards the cost of having the work remedied by someone else. What he pays should be whatever it costs minus the 10% that is still outstanding, at the very least.

I think realistically even if your builder came back with a plan to fix it you may find it more stressful having him there or worrying that he wouldn't be. Once you've lost that trust and he has lost interest then maybe you would be better going your seperate ways.

While the windows sound like a largeish job the rest doesn't sound individually like very costly things to fix so you may have a pleasant surprise.

You could potentially consider getting some legal advice, Which have a good summary of building disputes www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-avoid-building-work-disputes

Really good luck.

Viserion Wed 01-Mar-17 14:31:56

Thanks all.

I will talk through the contract point with my husband when he gets home tonight as he has dealt with all that side of things. I think it was all via emails though rather than a formal contract sad I have just been the one at home trying to rectify the fuck ups!

We haven't changed plans at any point and they were supplied with detailed plans, plus I am here almost every day to ask if there is anything they have been unclear about.

The builder is ordering all materials, so the (many) occasions when tradesmen have turned up but not been able to work due to absence of materials are entirely his fault.

A lot of it isn't necessarily expensive to fix and the builder is picking up the bill every time it is one of his team that messes up so it isn't cranking up our costs. It is just the frustration with the length of time and endless corrective work. Husband is more laid back about it because he isn't here all day dealing with them if/when they turn up, and takes the view that he would rather it takes longer but the cost doesn't go up.

Eggshell yes, to subcontracting to people who weren't up to the job. The first roofer did the easy bits and then buggered off. The first plasterer did the same, except he was also the joiner who built doorways too narrow and then disappeared. And YY to having taken on one (or ten) jobs too many.

Husband must have managed to speak to builder this morning as the plasterer turned up and has at least tidied up the rubbish they had left upstairs and says he'll be back tomorrow to carry on plastering. I could also hear him on the phone to builder discussing the windows and what they need to do.

nemno Wed 01-Mar-17 14:48:29

Sympathies Viserion . I totally get your position. I am at home dealing with the horror of being into month 7 of a 1 month project, though I didn't believe that timescale ever.

I wish I knew what we could have done differently to avoid this but I can't think how. I just don't know how I'll ever face building works again and we will have to at least once more given a normal lifespan! We've done a bigger project once before and applied all our learnt lessons to this one.

I can only console myself that eventually it will all be as we wanted and we knew enough to make sure that the costs haven't increased much. Hang in there OP

Viserion Sun 05-Mar-17 12:37:15

It gets worse. Turns out that it is all paid cash to avoid tax so no contract whatsoever angry so we wouldn't be able to take him to court if we got someone else in.

Then earlier this week, they forgot to pull the tarpaulins over the open loft windows so the rain has got in and soaked the new plaster and floors angry

Then, unrelated to the building work itself, we discovered yesterday that there is a leak under the floor downstairs. This will be an insurance job, but we can't start on repairing it until we can move back upstairs. Plumbers will have to come in and drain down the heating and leave us without for the foreseeable future to prevent any further damage. This in itself is ok, we didn't have any heating until about 6 weeks ago. It is the thought of the ongoing disruption that horrifies me right now. sad

BumbleNova Sun 05-Mar-17 16:13:36

dont panic - do you have emails setting out an agreed scope of work etc? thankfully, under English law, you do not need to have a written signed contract to have an enforceable agreement. agreements can be implied by conduct, i.e. you had a discussion via email, agreed a price and since the builder has started the work, that is good evidence of an agreement accepted by all sides. Far from easy, but not completely hopeless. Court is always a last resort, but it is still doable without a written contract.

i really think you need to set out in writing all the things you are unhappy with and give him a time frame to get it fixed.

bottom line - can you afford to get someone else in to finish it?

TittyGolightly Sun 05-Mar-17 16:27:28

The builder has had about 90% of the money out of us

It gets worse. Turns out that it is all paid cash to avoid tax

Christ. This is building work 101.

Viserion Sun 05-Mar-17 16:49:40

Thanks Titty hmm any constructive advice or just the sarcasm? I made the mistake of trusting my husband who has managed many substantially larger building projects on a professional basis without issue. I am well aware that he has got it monumentally wrong and am already fucking raging with him.

Everything was only slightly behind until my husband agreed with the builder to hold the final 10% until completion. It is from there on that work seems to have ground to a halt.

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