Issues with loft conversion, advice needed please

Discussion in 'Trade Talk' started by KnightWhoSaysNi, 10 Jan 2016.

  1. KnightWhoSaysNi

    KnightWhoSaysNi

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    For a little background: I bought the house in February last year. Since then I've had quite a bit of work done. For most of it (bathroom refit, kitchen refit, a new cloakroom, laminate flooring, guttering, etc.) I used a Romanian company whose services I was very happy with.

    Then I decided to do a dormer loft conversion comprising a bedroom and an en-suite shower room. I would have been very happy to have given that job to the Romanians, but they don't do loft conversions, so I started searching for loft conversion specialists.

    After getting several quotes I decided to go with the company that offered the best price.
    Their initial contract was very confusing, so I discussed the details in person, amended the contract and sent it to them, which they signed.

    The structural part of the work I didn't complain much about as I had no knowledge of or prior experience with that, so I just let them do their thing. But as they moved on to internal work, I realised working with them was very stressful and difficult. Their English is poor, so it's hard for me to even communicate with them about the more complex issues (well, anything where a differentiation between tenses is needed is too complex). I've had to pay extra for things that were supposed to be included as per the contract, but they didn't accept that and made me pay for them. I'm having to check everything they're doing, e.g. that the fittings are level, aligned or centred properly, etc. - because often they are not. One time they broke the extractor fan and didn't accept it as their fault, so I had to pay for a replacement. They didn't know how to fit sensor light switches and had to ask me about it - which is something they should have known. They've also tried to cut corners on several occasions hoping I would accept that, which I didn't and it took me a while to persuade them to finish the jobs properly.

    I never had that sort of issues with the Romanians. On the few occasions that they did something wrong, they resolved it to my satisfaction and at no extra cost.

    The loft is nearly finished. The only bits left to do are fitting the shower room, laying laminate flooring in the loft bedroom, and getting a certificate of completion. The scaffolding is still up and the skip is still in my driveway.

    Having seen the poor quality of their work I was apprehensive about letting them do the shower room, which is the bit that requires the most knowledge and attention to detail, especially since it includes electric underfloor heating. I'd rather give that to the Romanians, but:
    - The shower room is in the contract. If I give the shower room to the Romanians, that would end my cooperation with the loft guys. The headache of getting a certificate of completion would fall on my shoulders.
    - The payment schedule put down in the contract is not well balanced, and I feel that the last instalment (£750) is a bit low for the amount of work yet to be done, i.e. fitting the shower room and laying laminate flooring. It would be hard for me to get it all done for that money
    - Since the wiring and most of the plumbing is already in place, it's generally better to let the loft guys finish it, as they know which wire is which etc.

    Today they came to start fitting the shower room. At some point I went up there and noticed that the shower pipes were placed not where I wanted. After a long discussion they agreed to move them - not for free, but cheaply. By that time they had already started tiling - I noticed some tiles had already been laid on the walls, but didn't have a close look as it wasn't my focus.

    A bit later while I was out shopping I realised I hadn't checked if they were laying the tiles in the right orientation, i.e. vertically, as in the 1st floor bathroom, kitchen and cloakroom (all 3 done by the Romanians). When I came back from shopping the first thing I did is run to the loft to check it, and saw to my dismay that they had laid the tiles the wrong way. The tiling was already halfway done.

    What followed was a long argument and we didn't reach a resolution. I argue it's their fault, because they started tiling without asking me how I wanted the tiles laid. They had seen the tiles in the other tiled rooms - bathroom, kitchen and cloakroom - as they had used them all. At the very least if they don't ask they should assume I want them laid the same way; but it's still better to ask, as the Romanians did every time. I told them I want them to remove all the tiles, lay them properly, and if some tiles break - cover the costs of buying new tiles.

    They don't accept that and say it's my fault, because I had seen the tiles when I went there the first time to look at the pipes. That's not a serious argument to me, because by that time the tiling had already started, and it's not my job to check their work constantly (I have other things to do to and can't stay at home all day to watch them), detect their faults early on and bring them to their awareness so they can cut their losses sooner. It's their responsibility to make sure what they're doing is what I want done. By telling them the tiles were laid wrong halfway through the job and not after it was finished I did them a favour.

    They want me to remove the tiles myself. I don't accept that, because it's their job, and if they do it wrong they should pay for it.

    I told them I can get the Romanians to do the shower room. They're okay with that, but have suggested I take a day to think about it and let them know tomorrow.

    What would you guys do?
     
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  3. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    I would book yourself a doctor's appointment because you appear to have employed some tax dodging cheap poor English speaking foreign labour and you're wondering why the standard of work is a shower of shoite!
     
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  4. KnightWhoSaysNi

    KnightWhoSaysNi

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    Your sarcasm is not really helpful.

    I employed them because cost was important to me. And there is nothing wrong with foreign labour. The Romanians did a great job, and British doesn't guarantee great quality either.

    I'm very disappointed with the loft boys, but you can't know what it's going to be like until the works start.

    I am where I am, can't go back so I'm just trying to see what's the best way to proceed.
     
  5. RogerBoyle

    RogerBoyle

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    Pay peanuts and get monkeys springs to my mind TBH
    What qualifications have they got?
    Did you at least ask for a copy of their insurances
    Have you seen any of their previous Works or spoke to other clients
    Or was it simply a case of paying them all cash in hand to get a cheaper product at knock off prices
     
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  7. KnightWhoSaysNi

    KnightWhoSaysNi

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    I've got a copy of their insurance. I saw some of their previous works; none of them finished at the time.
    One of their clients I spoke to was happy, but it was them who pointed me to him.
     
  8. WabbitPoo

    WabbitPoo

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    1. You're sure that the work is sub-standard.
    2. You have a contract, detailing what will be done.
    3. Your only recourse is trading standards, solicitor etc.
    4. You know that won't help as they'll bugger off back to where they came from anyway
    5. Cut your losses, get rid, stop trying to get stuff done on the cheap and save up for decent (recommended) trades.

    I think you know the answer but imagine people here will have a magical answer....

    Good luck- I bet it is very stressful for you.
     
  9. gasbanni

    gasbanni

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    You say cost is important to me, it's important to everyone. Did you go with the cheapest quote ?

    It's true you could have had trouble with an English company ..........I'd rather have trouble with an english company than complete unknowns. Has the building inspector passed the loft conversion ok that's the important bit tiling is a minor issue.
    I'd be more worried out the major work than the finishing bits.

    If their English is so poor how do they understand the building regulations what did the local building inspector say about their compliance with the building regulations.
    Unfortunately you may have bigger worries than the tiling.
     
  10. trevorbayliss

    trevorbayliss

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    The nationality is a red herring and irrelevant.

    You should be in control of the building inspections and have taken payment control of that area. Basically the inspector needs to come out at a few stages to check the work (floor in correctly, steels in, insulation in, windows, electrics etc). Maybe 4 or 5 visits in total. I am not a trades, but a diner and did my own loft.

    So the most important bit here is that the conversion is signed off ok. Make sure this is done and i would be speaking to the building control inspector on monday - find out who he is and what stage he is at with it all.
     
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