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Help me make a decision re builders-please...............

9 replies

miggy · 18/05/2007 14:34

Am having major remodelling done on house which involves a chimney breast being removed over 3 floors, a staircase being removed, new bathrooms created and basically every room in the house bar the sitting room and or bedroom being affected in some way-so big horrible stuff. The builders have been doing plans etc since jan and original plan was to get it started over easter when we were away for 2 weeks, so have had bulk of the house in packing crates in garage since then. We have been hassling them to start and they have now promised to start on monday. But I am losing or have lost any confidence in them.
We have a wooden summerhouse that basically disintegrated in the winds over xmas and same builders are supposed to be repairing that. They started this monday, had gone by the time I came in at lunchtime, possibly came for a few hours on tuesday and havent been seen since, its now in a worse state than it was with the roof propped up on poles. Have nightmare visions of them starting on the house next monday by "ripping out all the upstairs ceilings" then buggering off for weeks.
Thing is have new kitchen booked to coincide with this AND all of house in garage and if we have to find new builders now will have to wait months.
Am I just getting cold feet or really bad vibes,Aaargh, sorry v long post

OP posts:
yogabird · 18/05/2007 21:33

it is a crap time and a crappy thing to go through. Sorry to you who have dh's who are builders but they are all the same. It will take twice as long as planned and cost twice as much. It will be a traumatic mess. We moved out of our place in August one year for a fortnight to let them get really on top of the messy stuff, stayed with MIL. We were back in just before Xmas to bare concrete floors.... i could go on but i sense that i'm not helping.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but i don't know whether i'd have swapped the ones we had or not. Despite the legal letters the threats the incorrect addition of stuff on the bills and the battles to settle all out of court - a real battle of wills, i could tell you, but won't (phew, i hear you cry!) Suffice it to say, the finished place was great. Dh then got a new job and we were off 4 months after finishing - it's a mad world!

KTeePee · 19/05/2007 09:02

Don't agree all builders are the same - had work done recently and ours was very good at keeping us informed of when he would start, how long it would take, etc. He was here every day apart from a couple of times when he was going away for a long weekend or had to wait for something before he could carry on - gave us lots of warning of these incidents and it was all agredd beforehand with us.

I would have a word now with your builders and make it very clear that once they start you expect them to be working full time on your house so as to get it done asap and don't want them disappearing off on other jobs....

yomellamoHelly · 19/05/2007 09:42

Would def. sit down and discuss situation with builder NOW. If you allow this start to define the rest of the project you'll still be in boxes come Christmas.
Firstly why have the plans taken so long to draw up. Have you made lots of design changes? Have there been communication problems between you?
Why did they not start at Easter?
Why did they leave at lunchtime and only work a few hours on Tuesday? (Are they waiting for some vital materials?)
After the first week are they on programme or late already? (Certainly some projects don't count on doing much in the first week. It's much more of a settling in period, becoming au-fait with what materials are ordered, discovering where the services, lintels etc etc are...)
Do you have a programme from them and an agreed payment schedule? What form of contract do you have? (I have friends who had a builder who did this to them. She ended up feeding them a constant supply of drinks and giving them a pretty good lunch to keep them on site. They'd then bugger off in the afternoon. The whole thing went on for ever, made worse by her constantly drip-feeding them cash.)
Personally I'd agree certain milestones for when they get paid and not before and also agree how you'll deal with any variations, so you don't get any nasty surprises when it's not finished on-time and costs more than you thought. May give them a bit of an incentive.

pinballwizard · 19/05/2007 09:47

whatever tack you take you are already in thrall to them...because as you say you can't drop them for another good builder who can start any sooner

once they start you can't drop them because another builder hates taking over from the first

constantly ringing their mobiles will get you blocked

good luck!

LizP · 20/05/2007 15:02

Do you have a penalty clause in the contract for going over time ? We did when we had major works done. We also agreed with them that this was to stop them not working on our job rather than to make them rush. So if something took longer for some reason that was OK so long as there were people working each day. It did end up running twice as long as expected but not all the delays were their fault and we came out with a really good job.

Also how did you pick your builders ? Ours came by recommendation from architech and friends and the architech project managed the work - we had site meetings with him every couple of weeks. We knew the final job would be to a very high standard and that is what we wanted. We agreed the times there would be no stairs so I could take the children away for two weeks and he stuck to it.

pinballwizard · 20/05/2007 15:06

lizs did you pay a lot for that premium level of service?

pinballwizard · 20/05/2007 15:06

sorry lizp

noddyholder · 20/05/2007 15:26

I would ask tehm how much quicker/cheaper it would be with you not there and if it is significant rent somewhere small as they really do get more done in a house which doesn't have to be family friendly by tea time!

miggy · 20/05/2007 21:36

Thanks guys, have decided to go ahead (due to limited options really). Am going to make it very clear though that I will expect them to be around full time.
Cant move out sadly as lots of pets and its a smallholding/farm, cant see a rental agency taking on the goats sadly! (may be spending time in the caravan in the garden though!)

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