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Help needed - dodgy gardeners

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

  1. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    So an update...
    We offered for the builder to come back and rectify the work or give us a refund if he doesn't think he can do it within the bounds of the original quote and our contract. He's deflected all of that and not addressed it directly and only responded with "confusion" as to why we didn't tell him during the process and is accusing us having no intention of paying in the first place. He wants someone on his terms to come and give a "second opinion" too. I don't think that's necessary as a non-expert can tell the work is crap. If he needs someone else to tell him that he's obviously not one.
    We're trying not to address those directly - as we employed him as an "expert" and expect him to do the work right the first time without our intervention, and also we intend to only pay when the work is completed to a reasonable skill and care and to a reasonable timescale... as set out in both the contract/terms and the law.

    We've then resubmit to him our complaint with the required works to see if he acknowledges them. He's responding at the last minute to our deadlines (14 days for the initial response) and ignoring our texts (we're just acknowledging receipt of his letters, and asking to phone him at a certain time to sort this quicker).

    In the meantime I've had to clear the gravel and sand from my drain... which was flooding (surprise!) after rain. Took photos as evidence first and there's a good 10 handfuls of gravel down each drain. They're not freely flowing but will probably clog with sand again as that washed from the patio.
    Also had to clear some gravel from where the back gate was - as he's raised the level of the top where the path met the gate the gate now catches on the gravel that ends up on there and can't be opened properly.
    The patio has continued to sink and degrade, some of the inner "retaining" wall blocks are now loose. This has allowed me to check them out. They are lightweight. Also the sand between the joints and beneath the slabs remains damp and is now going green with grossness. Not fit for purpose.

    Anyway... we'll see how this goes. I'm definitely thinking of writing a blog or post for new people having works done, what to look out for with builders and the type of quality you should be looking for even for basic work.
     
  2. Notch7

    Notch7

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    He can appoint his own expert, but it would need to be a RICS qualiied surveyor or similar, but no such expert is going to say the work is correct.

    He cant argue that you shouldve told him you werent happy earlier on, the fact is you engaged him to do a job and as such it must be fit for purpose -your intervention during the project is not necessary.
     
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  3. sodthisforfun

    sodthisforfun

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    It's not up to you to inspect the work along as he is doing it - you employed him in good faith as an expert and you should've been able to trust him to do the work to a good standard.
     
  4. opps

    opps

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    I hope you do. Regrettably, most homeowners won't read it and will continue to believe that the simple fact that a recommendation based website says that someone has been "rigorously vetted" means that they will do an A grade job.

    Cowboy builders existed long before the WWW, the key difference now is that we have tax dodging outfits that take a commission for putting them in contact with victims. I am not suggesting that the facilitators want to see punters ripped off but if they were serious about ensuring that customers receive a high quality service they could do a lot more than simply saying "not our problem".
     
  5. Notch7

    Notch7

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    The internet has spawbed a new, legal method of extortion. You set up a database, get punters in and oncebyouve got a monopoly keep increasing commission to cream off as much profit you can extract.

    Heres a few examples:

    Booking.com
    ebay
    Etsy
    amazon marketplace
    Checkacowboy
    Uber

    Uber follow this model perfectly: theyve got between punters and taxis and cream off profits from poor drivers who slog their guts out while Uber executives make $$$
     
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  6. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    Yet another update in this saga.

    So the builders haven't admitted they've done anything wrong, but it looks like they've got tired of arguing about minor details. We've stuck to our original arguments that it's the major stuff that is wrong. They've agreed to deconstruct the entire load of work, determine what materials, if any can be reused and will rebuild the garden, including proper subbase for the patios, returns on the walls (both to support the top patio going back, and bottom patio to support/hide the neighbours dirt revealed by the dig out).
    The problem is, is that they've missed out some of the details and keep on changing their list of work (based off a verbal conversation), such as if they're going to put a DPM behind the wall, what kind of bricks they'll use and if they'll DPC the wall etc, how drainage of the retaining walls will be done, what type of wall ties (they want to retrofit/drill them, I want them built in). They also reckon that reseeding the lawn is acceptable, but they didn't prepare the ground (having just rotorvated the old lawn into the ground only).

    Because of their duplicitous nature, we've said we won't allow them to start the work until we have a pretty detailed list of what they'll do. If they encounter other issues they must let us know too. They reckon it'll still take them 2 weeks, which I think is optimistic.

    So 3 months later from work beginning we've no resolution and the garden is washing more away!
     
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  7. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    Could you perhaps write the detailed list and get them to sign agreeing to it?
     
  8. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    I'll give it a go for sure! I've got most of the stuff I know I want doing and I've learned so much over the past few months. It'll be better to get it all done and signed so it's clear and then we won't add extra things (so they don't have that fear) and we can hold them to account.
     
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  9. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    Add the words '...done in a professional and workmanlike manner'.
     
  10. TeeDub

    TeeDub

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    So hilarity ensures. It's completely broken down now and they're refusing to work or even speak to us. We were calm and polite and wanted to resolve some of the issue they were having. It seems pretty clear they had no intention of starting work as they didn't bring any tools and came in a car.

    They turned up yesterday and my wife asked about what they were going to do with the waste - we wanted to know if they needed to use the driveway for a skip or grabber etc. They then said that they weren't responsible for the removal of the waste because we had paid for the materials and they're on our property. I was at work so I said if we can't agree on the waste disposal they can't deconstruct the garden. They agreed to come back today and speak to me when I was working from home.

    We rang Citizens Advice and they confirmed that removing the waste was part of the full remediation of the works. If they didn't want to do it, they could negotiate a price reduction. We told them this in email and text yesterday.
    Today I told them what we'd heard from Citizens Advice and the builders said something along the lines of "I don't care where you've got the information from, we're not doing it".
    They also objected to being filmed and photographs of their work being done. We have security cameras on our property, which remain on during work being done. And it's kind of my property... isn't it I can do (within the law) what I want on it? They can object all they want... I'll keep the cameras and photo my own land - what have they got to fear - that we'll film their poor work again?
    I tried to ask several other questions, but they refused to answer and just interrupted and shouted above us. I remained calm and reasonable and invited them to come and sit down and we can progress but then they just left.

    They've also stated they have a problem working with my wife. Probably because she asks questions which are awkward for them - but they're only reasonable - like what time will they work till, what will they do today, a little more detail on drainage etc?

    It's a shame it has come to this, and has taken so long, but it looks like it'll have to go to litigation. We've offered throughout the engagement that they can refund us money or we can go through an ADR scheme, but they've ignored all of that.

    We'll be writing a final letter of action (using the CA templates). We've also engaged a qualified and professional landscape garden who is willing to be a witness and do a review of the garden and quote in court.

    It's gone beyond ridiculous now and they're acting childish. This is not the professional approach I'd expect of someone trying to resolve a dispute with a customer who can pay them thousands of £. I suppose I don't have to deal with the stress of them turning up again!

    I also realise at no point have I disclosed the name of the builder etc, but I feel now they're refusing to work and are being downright deceitful and aggressive I must warn off anyone from using or use extreme care when using rated people as it's vetting and rating system appears pretty useless.

    EDIT: A few people asked about foundations. We've determined that the foundations are around 50mm thick concrete and poured ontop of bricks (which were taken from an old wall that was removed). No aggregate or other material was used. The footings are approximately 20-30mm wider than the total width of the walls.
    From various reading I've found that a "decent" footing should be twice the total width of the walls or 100mm wider than each side (ie: 200mm wider than the total width of the wall). They should be approx 100mm deep if they're on good soil. If they're on poor soil they can have another 50mm or be put onto compacted hardcore. Considering the bottom wall in particular is retaining a lot of weight (and water) I'd want those foundations to be pretty good. The top is less crucial as it's only a small wall (500mm high roughly) and isn't retaining much - it was built to put the patio on there.
     
    Last edited: 4 Sep 2019
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