Fallen out with driveway installer

30 Jan 2011
Reaction score
United Kingdom
I've been getting a new driveway installed for the last two weeks. The job is nearly complete and needs another 1-2 days.

However, the company installing the driveway keep trying to cut corners and claim not to recall discussions about the shape of flowerbeds, heights of walls, etc. They seem to be wanting to do the driveway in the way that they want to and are ignoring the original discussions and our requests until we point them out to them. This has happened every day and is getting their backs up as they feel we keep changing things and this is preventing them from completing the job.

I have not paid them a single penny yet.

Today things came to a head when my father pointed out that the depth of one of the flowerbeds was 2.5m when we originally wanted it to be 1.5m and then later compromised to 2m at the request of the installers. This was agreed between all of us yesterday (verbally). Later on in the day they created a flowerbed with a depth of 2.5m. This will cause problems getting one extra car into the driveway. Also, we wanted an arc-shaped flowerbed border and they did a straight one!

An argument ensued and the installers drove off home.

I chose them from quotes on MyBuilder and they were the most expensive quote (£7K for a driveway). I've had issues with things like normal housebricks being used to fill the soakaway when they promised engineering bricks.

I'm so fed up with the whole thing that i've accepted their screw-up with the flowerbed shape. However, they've now become aggressive, abusive and intimidating.

Obviously they need to complete the work and then i'll pay them the agreed amount of money for their work. However, i'm looking for advice on how to deal with the situation as I need the work done properly and to the design that I asked for and I need them to stop being aggressive. But most important of all, I need them to stop making things up and do the driveway as has been agreed (verbally) on several occasions.

I've paid them no money so far so fully expect them to ask for money soon. They estimated 6-7 days for the job. On Monday we will be entering the third week. It's a fixed-price job.
Sponsored Links
What do you have in Writing?, What design are they following? Do you have a copy oy the design?

No, unfortunately not. It's a simple rectangle with two small flowerbeds on either side of the driveway entrance. All we said (and agreed verbally) was an arch to 1.5m to the side walls from each pillar of the driveway entrance.

The original quote simply says:

"7. The step will be constructed and the flower beds defined"

The installers have been on site three times to clarify everything and stated prior to the job that everything was clear.

We reagreed this yesterday morning and they did a straight line to 2.5m deep later the same day. I think this is because it was easier for them.

The same person who agreed the arch (curve) and the 1.5m depth (later adjusted to 2m) then proceeded to do a different shaped flowerbed a matter of hours after agreeing the shape with us!
I've been getting a new driveway installed I've had issues with things like normal housebricks being used to fill the soakaway when they promised engineering bricks.

That isn`t an issue , soakaways can be filled with pretty much any rubble - however it`s only a small point in what is unfortunately a problem for you . You do have my sympathy . If they have run over time on a fixed price , that is something that they should " bite the bullet " on . It happens to us all . Contractors should put it down to experience .
Sponsored Links
Without a drawing or plan of what you actually wanted, it may prove difficult to agree, if what they have done is their best, exactly what you wanted should have been decided at the start of the work.

Can't see that they agreed to put in an arc shaped flowerbed then did a straight one. Even if verbally agreed, they should do it the shape you want. Can't see that you mention these things to them, then a few hours later they've forgot and did things their way. Personally I'd ask the boss to come out and discuss everything that's wrong with him and insist on the driveway being put right, before you part with one penny.
Yes, the price was agreed in writing (on the original estimate and recently via email).

It was the boss himself who discussed the arch-shape for the flowerbed and the depth with us. He then proceeded to do a straight one!

Sadly their negative feedback on MyBuilder was received just a few days ago which was too late for me. The issues that the poster of the negative feedback mentioned were exactly the same issues that i'm now going through.
As you havent paid anything yet, you are in a better position, speak to the main man about your concerns, what you agreed and want it put right.
Failing that, tell him you will get another firm out, to put right and finish the works and will deduct that amount.
Regarding My builder, you can leave negative feedback, this shows on his profile, which does put of customers of from hiring him.
3 negatives and his account is suspended.
start doing agreed dimensioned drawings straight away, and make sure you both have a copy. Initial it when agreed.

If it was me I would email a copy of the agreed drawing as soon as it has been agreed saying "confirmation of the plan we agreed today"

some builders like to bully punters. Some people say that itinerants, with a mobile phone no and no real-life address disclosed, are especially bad for that.
I chose them from quotes on MyBuilder

Therein lies your problem.

If you can't have a sensible discussion with the boss, try a call to your local trading standards. Do not pay any money until it's to your satisfaction. If they are diddies, you may have to contend with the whole family.

These Mybuilder type sites seem fine, but many good tradesmen and building companies will survive by word of mouth and reputation. Builders who register on these sites may be needing the work for a reason.

Next time, ask friends, family or colleagues, or even drive around your area, find some well constructed driveways, and ask the owner who did the work and if they were happy with them. It's the only way if you don't know reliable tradesmen.
Just thinking ahead, it's Monday today and there's no sign of the driveway installers.

My garage is full of their tools and machines. They have a key to my garage and the side gate.

There are pallets of paving blocks on the road outside my house and general building waste in my driveway. It's a bit of a mess.

As I mentioned, I haven't paid them a penny yet. but I cannot let the job stall now.

What steps should I take to ensure the job is completed? What if they refuse to come back (which would be unlikely as £7K is riding on this)? Would I have to get other tradesmen in to complete the job and deduct those costs from the £7K?

I need the job finished before Wednesday this week.
some builders like to bully punters. Some people say that itinerants, with a mobile phone no and no real-life address disclosed, are especially bad for that.
Sadly you are so right , have you seen how good their sign written vans are ? - I`ve had to double -take on a couple of them :eek: And I know a traveller when I see one ;)
A quick update: two of the workers worked on Tuesday to almost finish off the driveway. There's about an hours work left now (fill in a couple missing paving bricks and put two coping stones on wall pillars).

I sent an email to the installers asking them to prepare an invoice and to complete the remaining tasks as soon as possible so that I can inspect the work and make immediate payment of £7K as soon as i'm happy that the work is complete and satisfactory.

My email has not been responsed to so far and the final remaining jobs are still outstanding.

So, i'm still in the situation of having an almost complete driveway but no urgency from the installers to complete the job and request payment.

We're now almost at the end of the third week of the job. The road still has two pallet-loads of paving bricks on it and I sense the neighbours are getting a bit anxious about the mess on site.

Is there any way to get them to complete the job so I can pay them and then not have to worry about the driveway installers from hell again?

I would have thought that £7K (which was by far the most expensive quote on MyBuilder for my job) would have meant that they would be falling over themselves to finish off the last bits of work? Yet, they don't seem overly interested in getting paid or completing the job.
Are you a customer from hell?

We always hear about so called bad trades here. Yet some could be the victim of a bad client.
Taking one to court myself, thinking he can get away with several thousand pounds worth of extra work when agreed.
Sponsored Links