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Help needed - dodgy gardeners

Discussion in 'In the Garden' started by TeeDub, 24 Jun 2019.

  1. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    I'm no building expert, but I expect it should have been a concrete foundation, with some depth.
     
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  3. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    yeah there was a concrete/cement layer. I'm guessing around 2-3 inches deep (from the depth of the holes) and across the bottom of the walls. They put that there, let it set and cure and carried on with the walls the next days later. They didn't do all of the concrete at once as they left the old steps that were removed later in place crossing over the bottom wall.

    I'm having to question everything he's done now, especially after learning about wall ties etc too! I'm learning fast.

    Also two photos attached showing collapsing patio after the rain (taken this morning) - for your amusement. The rain washed away the kiln dried sand and some of the builders sand underneath and then went down into the cavities. The slabs sat on a pool of water/sand mix and when stepped on sunk. I assume that's because of the "membrane" storing the water.
     

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    Last edited: 26 Jun 2019
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  4. Newboy

    Newboy

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    Being very blunt, I suspect this is going to be a case of having to rip out and start again. So far there is no part of the works that is even close to being done correctly.

    The wall with no foundation is just waiting to collapse and is potentially dangerous.

    Get the expert report together as quickly as you can - although quite how you are going to offer the contractor the opportunity to complete remedial works is another question as he is clearly either a cowboy or incompetent or both.
     
  5. Newboy

    Newboy

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    No -it's because they are not bedded on anything - the tarpaulin won't be helping but the end result would be the same.


    Keep an eye on the wall - as the cavity fills and the non-existent foundation softens the wall may well fall forward.
     
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  6. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    So had the independent report.
    Wow. He said it's the worst job he's ever seen.
    Essentially the patio and walls need to come out and it needs to be done again from scratch. The only materials that can be recovered are the slabs and most of the outer bricks if they're removed carefully. He's not even sure if they're engineering bricks so we're checking the manufacturer.

    The blocks they've used aren't appropriate.. They suggested using 9 inch concrete blocks which would have steel rods put in them to tie them to the steel foundations.
    Were missing the wall ties.
    The walls aren't verticle.
    There are no weep holes and the one they've put in aren't proper.
    The drain are blocked.
    The patio hasn't had the land below it done even to a basic level.
    The steps are not filled with concrete or solid so the slabs will probably break over time as they've only got 1 brick support.
    Etc etc etc and all the stuff said here by previous people.

    Our next steps are to send them the list of remedial work.
    I suspect they'll neither have the skill nor inclination to do it (as its another 2 weeks work) so we'll probably end up in the alternative dispute resolution scheme first. If they don't want to do it I'll ask for a full refund of the materials as we need to get it done again by someone else.
    If they continue to refuse to do it we will go to the small claims. A layman can see their work is unacceptable even at a casual glance so we're in the much stronger position.

    If you even search "how to lay a patio" on Google and go to the home base or b&q guides you get better results than with this guys "20 years experience".
     
  7. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    Very well done so far. If you do feel intimidated by him - do notify the police, so it goes on record.
     
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  8. Notch7

    Notch7

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    Unfortunately you will need to be prepared for a long slow process with no guarantee of any recompense at the end. It could take a year.

    Im sorry to be negative but its best to start with low expectations.......

    Try not to let it get you down, its not a life changing amount of money and no one got hurt.
     
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  9. Newboy

    Newboy

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    I'm with N7.

    The chances of getting your cash back are probably low - even with a CCJ there's no guarantee of payment and resorting to High Court action just adds expense with no guarantee of successful recovery.
    The process is likely to be time consuming and, if this is the standard that the contractor operates to then he may well not have any real fear of the process.

    Sadly there are plenty of incompetent people around.

    An obvious final thought - if he tries to pull the 'I'm not getting paid so I'll pop around and rip it up' approach it's worth remembering that you have paid for the materials so he has no right to touch them - on a good day the Police may regard any such attempt as criminal damage (however on a bad day they will regard it as a civil dispute).

    Genuinely, I wish you good luck in getting the matter resolved.
     
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  11. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    Send him a copy (not the original) of the surveyor report - invite in writing his proposal to rectify the defects to a satisfactory and workmanlike standard, ask that he respond within seven days with the proposal and give an agreeable deadline for completion of the work.

    If he fails to respond or fails to offer an acceptable solution, the send him a Letter Before Action, allowing him a further 14 days. If the 14 days expires, then you can take out a Small Claim. You don't have to send the LBA, but a judge might take a dim dim view if you didn't.

    Its a fairly informal process, probably in front of a judge, in a small room where you both offer your evidence. Your evidence appears to be over whelming, so you should be able to recover what you have paid in full, plus court costs. I would suggest you class the material as scrap, even if you find you can reuse some of it. If he has done any extra damage that will need rectifying, like clearing your drains, then include the cost of that in your claim.

    Print out hard copies of all text messages an emails, plus summarise all phone conversations, time and dates what was promised and agreed.

    https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees

    The claim will cost you £185 (online claim for £3000 to £5000). Best ensure the guy has some assets worth seizing and whether it is a limited company. No point in winning a case, if the guy has no money and no assets. If you win and he fails to pay up, you can ask for High Court enforcement of the debt, where assets can be seized.
     
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  12. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    Thank you all for your words and help on this! I'm not expecting this to be resolved quickly (unless of course just refunds us what we've already paid, which I guess is unlikely). I'd accept that just to get it over and done with and start again.

    We've received advice from Citizens Advice and they've started a Trading Standards report. Our property is part of a local conservation area and trust who don't take kindly to bad worksmanship, so we'll be getting their support and advice too (even for an official/independent survey if there's any dispute over the independence of the one we've had done - although a RICS surveyor is a RICS surveyor to me).

    I'll keep this chain updated with events. I've learned so much in the past few days and weeks. Might have to right a guide on this, haha! OR more importantly a guide on how not to do it.
     
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  13. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    So the original builder's idea of what needs to be done to have the garden done to reasonable skill and care is...
    "To take off slabs from bottom wall and replace them with engineering bricks and a tile crease to prevent water running down the facing brick.
    To expose 2 drains
    To re-set step on bottom tier
    To edge path with paving bricks and flaunch with concrete to prevent any movement due to heavy traffic
    To take up necessary slabs on top tier and re-lay on a semi dry bed behind the wall line and compact and on a lime mortar on top of wall.
    To take out any remaining existing slabs.
    To install 1 12inch gravel board."

    OUR new report stated:
    "All of the slabbing has been incorrectly laid. As you have already found out they should have done the following:
    - dug out enough soil to allow for a good 4 inches of MOT Type 1 hardcore
    - the hardcore should be mechanically compacted
    - slabs should then be bedded on a sharpsand concrete mix of at least 5:1 ratio.
    - joints between the slabs should be pointed with a 4:1 mortar or a self setting compound such as Sika Pave Fix Plus. The kiln dried sand they have used will wash away as will the sharp sand underneath.
    - The paved area should also allow for appropriate drainage with a slight fall away from the house.​

    · The two retaining walls are completely inadequate.
    - In order to retain the amount of soil and the slope you need to use 9 inch hollow concrete blocks with steel rebar passing through them and down into the concrete footings.
    - The blocks should then be filled with a 4:1 concrete mix.
    - The facing bricks need to be engineering quality in order to withstand the moisture and should also be tied into the blocks with wall ties.
    - The wall should also be plumb and level.
    - There should be a perforated drainage pipe running along the back of the walls with compacted gravel back-fill and regular weep holes to allow water to escape
    - The steps are currently a death trap as they are falling apart due to weak mortar, no infill and poor brickwork layout.​

    - The existing drains should be clear of gravel

    · The turf should be laid on well prepared soil which is free of lumps and stones and nice and smooth. The turf should be laid in a brickwork pattern so there are no joints in a line. They should also be well butted up to each other so the gaps are invisible.

    · The area at the top needs to be built up with very well compacted hardcore and the retaining wall should also run along the fence line on both sides to stop it subsiding into the neighbours. The top of the paving should be 150mm below the DPC and slope away from the garages to allow water to drain properly.

    It is my opinion that you can salvage the slabs, but everything else needs to be taken down. The footings for the two walls need to be widened to allow for the wider 9 inch blockwork and should also be checked for depth and strength of the concrete."


    So in essence, i think his list and lack of understanding of what is actually wrong almost proves he doesn't have the necessary skill (or care).

    Of interest - we've believe (although can't prove without a receipt unless I speak to a builders merchant or the brick makers) that they've used facing bricks and not engineering bricks for the walls. I think they've used Ibstock bricks from the Atlas factory... (they're stamped with Atlas) and the only red multi bricks they do there are the "TRADESMAN CLAYGATE RED MULTI". There's no DPC or protection on them, so the first rain and frost in winter would start showing damage, so engineering bricks should have been used... in my non expert opinion (and my reporting builders expert opinion).
     
    Last edited: 28 Jun 2019
  14. Newboy

    Newboy

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    I would say this is a very polite & concise summary of your existing contractor's abilities!
     
  15. lonner

    lonner

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    Trading standards.
    You've employed a travaling minstral.

    See what trading standards have on this crook
     
  16. Notch7

    Notch7

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    My advise would be you wont get it resolved this summer, so plant out some nice tubs for the summer, have a few barbeques -make use of the garden as best you can and spend somebtime thinking if there are any improvements you would like to the design (ignoring the construction faults).

    In terms of legal action, just be aware he might say he wsnts an independant surveyor and he might contest the faults your surveyor has listed -or he might just put his head in the sand until the bailiffs arrive. Either way it will be a slow process, so Id say park the frustration.

    If you mention what region you are, you might get some recommendations for tradesmen on here to do a sound job.

    The design for your garden looks good, done by a really good builder it could look stunning
     
  17. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    Unfortunately I've had to undo some of the "work" such as clearing the drains out already, and some of it is downright unsafe such as the steps, path and patio.
    I'm reluctant to spend money in the meantime as it'll be hard if there are complications in the case/complaint, but some of it more or less needs to change at least before autumn before it starts to rain.

    We've had a quote from one of the builders we had before. They've said it'd cost approx £700 more than their previous quote as they'll have to dig out even more now and redo the footings for the walls - where there was just one before.

    I've also noticed that the brickwork on the walls is not good.. I thought even that looked good originally, but on closer inspection it looks like there are odd sized bricks as they started from the ends and worked in. Also there are some bits where the bricks are not "staggered" and sitting on top of each other.

    I'm based in Birmingham, Midlands. Any recommendations are welcome.
     
    Last edited: 1 Jul 2019
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