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Another problem with my builder..

(45 Posts)
PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 14:44:59

so, the floor is moved, the stairs are moved. He is being a bit slack now.

Yesterday he had a 'hospital appt' which he told us about on friday. He said he would be in afternoon some time. Did not show up. He came in today at 8:45am (gone are the 7:45am prompt starts) with his son, but not his other apprentice, who funnily enough was on a 'college course' last week. I leave the house this morning to see his apprentice outside talking to the builder by the van, apprentice is clearing in working gear and they are moving a large peice of equipment (wood cutter it looks like) into a van. I did not really pay attention.

Anyway, this morning both builder and his son disappear for 1 hour or so, to go to a builders yard for some nails. Then, lunch time, the 'wood cutter has 'broken' and they have to take it to 'get it fixed', made a big song and dance about it. And have not returned.

I suspect, they have taken it to another job. I suspect that is what they were doing yesterday, and that is what they are doing this afternoon.

They are still not back where they should be after rectifying their mistakes, and we still have 2 unusable rooms (the spare room wall not been put back up, and the loft nowhere near finished, again).

Unfortunately we did not have a contract drawn up stipulating penalties for delays. He said it would 12 weeks at the most, but more likely 8. It has been 12 weeks this week, and another 2 needed minimum. If he continues like this it will be 3 weeks.

I am concerned about the time, and his lack of motivation, which in my eyes = lack of giving a shit, so it won't be as good a finish. We have already given up on some of the expectations that he had promised but were not written down, and put this down to experience.

Is there anything we can do to hurry him up? Legally I mean. I do not have any proof he is working, but I work with criminals who use excuses for things all the tim, and in the manner he is using his excuses all the time, he is behaving just like some-one I would supervisse trying to cover up behaviour!!!

Or, how would you suggest that we phrase it when we ask them to hurry up? I do not want them to rush, but I want them to do a full day's work.

We just want them out now.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 15:14:24

I just want to get on with things now, like decorate, tidy this mess of a place up, get DD settled in her new room, prepare for the birth of my baby in 12 weeks, or less (DD was early), maybe, just maybe even relax a little bit.

I know he has money problems, but does that mean he can just mess us around? He was highly motivated to get this done and dusted before the cock up.

noddyholder Tue 25-Aug-09 15:22:50

I think you need a meeting and just lay it on the line.tell tehm you want it finihed and no money until it is done to your liking.say you understand jobs sometimes run over but enough is enough.What is the job?

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 15:26:37

It is my loft conversion. It has been a pain for a while as they put the floor too high and covered it up, and subsequently the stairs went in wrong, and thus the spare room wall went back in wrong and it all had to come down and be redone.

I have just had headache after headache with it all, I am fed up with the what appears to be almost constant conflict and atmosphere, I seem to be having to challenge some thing or other every day now and he clearly does not want to be here either.

I am tempted to just tell him to leave everything apart from his tools and bugger off. And just get someone else in to do it. But I know builders are reluctant to finish of another builder's job.

noddyholder Tue 25-Aug-09 15:34:55

Have you paid him?If not I would call his bluff and say you are thinking of getting another firm to complete it as you feel his heart isn't in it anymore.I have had this a few times the job drags on becuase they go elsewhere and then it becomes a chore and the finish is crap.DO NOT COMPROMISE!!I have in the past and you will kick yourself later.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 15:44:20

We have a retainer. Not as much as we wanted as he was saying he was struggling financially and as we asked him to rip it all out and redo the mistakes he claimed hardship. So we advanced a bit more. But we still have some, enough to use as a weapon so to speak, if he is that hard up.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 15:46:42

but probably not enough of a retainer to pay for all that needs to be finished.

noddyholder Tue 25-Aug-09 16:09:53

He won't let someone else finish I'm sure.I think you need to approach him though esp as you are pregnant and this is v stressful.Just be honest say you've had enough and acknowledge the problems without being too harsh and say Lets get on with this otherwise someone else will!My sister had this and ended up involving trading standards her builders had to put it right even though she just wanted shot!

jeanjeannie Tue 25-Aug-09 16:20:29

Hard one. Sounds like he's possibly not got enough cash to finish the job OR he's being greedy and a cash job is too much temptation to ignore.

I'm with Noddy - sit him down and see if you can get him to set out a schedule with you. Could you and your DH do your good cop/bad cop routine?! Remind him that once it's done - the money is his and he's out of there.

My DP won't finish off another builder's work and I think this goes for many of them. So yes, it's in everyones interest to get him and his crew re-motivated. Sorry you're having a hard time.

I hate hearing stories like this...what with my DP being a builder and me being a journo - we end up being the most distrusted couple at a party..!

ilovemydogandmrobama Tue 25-Aug-09 17:28:42

He probably is close to making a loss on your loft conversion and is trying to cut his losses overall by starting on other work. It's fairly common for builders to have lots of other jobs on the go. When we had our loft converted, it was by a loft conversion company and they worked in teams, so one week it would be the carpenters, the next week it may be the plasterers etc, and they all rotated. But in the trade sole builders will do other jobs, and it sounds to me as if he made a major mistake and is fixing it, but isn't happy about it. Every day he's there is probably costing him.

Your DH seems to be quite good at getting through to him. Could you ask him about working out a realistic schedule to get it done? Play the pregnant card. smile

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 19:06:32

ILMD - yes, he most likely is making a loss now, and this is the problem rather than him being greedy. But that is really not my problem. I am sorry to sound harsh but we have advanced him more money than we agreed at this stage as it is to keep him going. He has reduced his staff from 4 to him and his son, and he is doing much more hard graft than normal, usually he delegates, and he appears right now to be seriously bad at managing himself and what needs doing. I think he is struggling with the physical work too to be honest as the lads usually do the hard stuff!

It is not even that I mind him doing another job, I understand you got to do what you got to do. But he continually lies about things, thinking we won't suss it out, and comes in late and leaves early. Why can he not just say 'pavlov/pavlov's DH, you know finances are pinched right now and I have a bread and butter job that I just cannot pass up, I will not be in for 2 days, but when I come in I will do my best to make up time' - then we will be like ok, he is up front and honest. It is lies that got him into this mess in the first place as he tried to cover up a serious mistake. Consequences. Not our fault. I said all along that mistakes happen and we accept that, but its the deceipt and not now knowing how much to trust him. I keep half expecting to find him gone.

Noddy - I called him this evening on his mobile, said 'i take it you are not returning today then, can you tell me if you are in tomorrow and if so what time we should expect you?' I tried not to sound to cross but wanted him to know we are noting it. He made some excuse about borrowing a friends bit of equipment and being there at 9am tomorrow. Yeah right.

jeanjeanie the good cop bad cop, DH is running out of good cop steam. He has even said no bacon sarnies this friday shock now that is bad! And I am not sure I even have any steam to be bad cop. I am just so tired with it all.

3 weeks in total over, if we are lucky, for the mistakes to be recitifed, PLUS, another 2 weeks due to the 'problem with the stairs' which he blamed on the stair co but were due to his eff up, so 5 weeks minimum over due.

SwedesandTurnips Tue 25-Aug-09 19:20:54

If it was me I would offer them a further cash incentive to get it finished by a certain date. There's nothing worse than builders lacking commitment at the end of a job - just when they need to feel enthused (and valued) so they put in really great finishes.

But sorry to hear it. It's incredibly stressful.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 19:37:48

swedes do you mean in addition to the agreed price? Oh I don't know about that hmm. I am not sure I want to reward crap work with more money. I am not sure it will give us great results, or if he will still be able to finish it, and he has made such significant balls ups I really do not feel he deserves it. And I do not have the additional cash to give just to get a job finished as it should have been in the first place.

Or, do you mean, give them cash advance of what we already owe them?

But you are right, the incentive for them just isn't there. Even if he gets ALL the money we owe him, chances are he has made a loss and it probably does not thrill him as its probably already spent.


SwedesandTurnips Tue 25-Aug-09 19:48:40

Pavlov - I mean more wonga, in addition to what you will already owe at the end of the job. Subject to satisfactory conclusion and them putting right the things on your list that you aren't happy with. Otherwise you are at an impasse and I don't see a satisfactory conclusion.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 19:51:18

how much more? DH was not entirely against it. Depending on the amount, and seeing as endless cups of tea and bacon sarnies are clearly not cutting it now.

SwedesandTurnips Tue 25-Aug-09 19:53:17

I suppose you've tried full on tears? grin

SwedesandTurnips Tue 25-Aug-09 19:53:53

What was the value of the overall job?

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 19:54:42

He ^has rectified the major mistake, and as much as he can rectified the other error. My problem is now that he is being more slapdash with what now needs doing. I think he is cutting corners (for example re-using a piece of floorboard (plywood) that had been removed and put in the garden, even though it was water damaged.

Now, though, my issue is time, as well as finish quality.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 19:57:11

No i have not actually cried. He is not an easy man to cry in front of, i am more mad when he is around. I cried in front of his apprentice though which was embarrassing, he is only 20 blush. I don't feel tearful. I might have to muster up some tears for tomorrow though. But he is so grumpy its hard not to just bark at him blush

Job was £17k

Buda Tue 25-Aug-09 20:07:20

I would dangle the poss of another job in front of him. You have a friend who wants a loft done and is dying to see yours finished. You would love to be able to recommend him. Etc Etc.

SwedesandTurnips Tue 25-Aug-09 20:07:43

I don't know where you live so can't be precise. But I expect a good builder charges a day rate of £150 and an apprentice £80 ish. So if there are three of them their gang day rate is approx £300. If they can really get finished to a good standard in 10 working days then offer them £1,000 to £1500 extra - that's a whole week's extra money for two or all three of them, ten or 15 man days. And tell them you want a really excellent finish and no cutting corners or sloppy work. Money at the end, subject to satisfactory workmansship.

jeanjeannie Tue 25-Aug-09 20:17:32

Hate to say it but a bit more £ may be the only way - much as it pains me to say it.

The old agade 'Good/fast or cheap - you can only pick two' often comes into play at times like these.If you want it fast and good then 'cheap' is sadly the one that flies out of the window sad

I really hope you find a way round it and get it all done in time.

ilovemydogandmrobama Tue 25-Aug-09 20:20:56

Pavlov, I didn't mean to suggest that any of this is your fault blush Just was trying to explain perhaps why he is so demoralized.

I think you need to do what's best for you and the baby at this stage. If it takes £1000 to get the job done, well, that's money well spent if it means you can spend the last trimester of your pregnancy in peace.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 20:25:06

Weeeeell. Firstly we do not have £1500 to spare. Secondly, it is not exactly fast. If we had realised this and could have afforded the additional cost, we would have gone with the loft conversion co who were charging us £3k more, would have had it done in 4-6wks, rather than this which is 12 weeks and sloppy. 3rdly, he is currently only using his son, who is a student on holidays! He has got rid of the others, guess he cannot afford them (or rather, the apprentice appears to be on another job for him).

Thing is, we do have a bit more work for him, would have, which he knows about. Not much, probably £800 in total, but he must know we will not be asking him to do this now? Unless we use that as the incentive. Do this well and we will ask you to do the rest?

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 25-Aug-09 20:32:19

ILMD - oh don't worry, did not think you were suggesting it is my fault. Although, to be honest, it is. I tried to do a compromise between cheap (as in not the cheapest) and quality. And we got it very very wrong.

How about we offer him £500, plus the other work we need doing to be offered to him, as long as he does a good job with what needs to be finished.

Or maybe I will just tell him that either he finishes the job properly or I won't pay him a penny more and he will need to take me to court.

I am swaying between being nice and spending money I do not have, money I would prefer to spend on my new baby (seeing my DH lost his job a while back) and just being angsty and cutting my nose of to spite my face and telling him to get stuffed.

Not sure which way I am swaying right now hmm grin

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