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The builders still haven't bothered finishing the things they said… - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
The builders still haven't bothered finishing the things they said they'd finish a week ago. We're supposed to move in on Tuesday.

Okay, they've finished plastering/painting the ceilings (taking huge chunks out of all the walls in the process, and leaving all the light-fittings hanging out) and they've put the boiler in (taking more chunks out of the walls including a large hole in the front wall, and ripping out some of the skirting boards). The boiler may even work, but it can only be plugged in with a duct-taped-together power cable stretching through two rooms, so it's a bit hard to tell. Somewhere along the line they nicked one of our radiators (which we didn't particularly want there anyway, but you know, it's the principle of the thing). I said there was no need to replace it, and now they have replaced it, and will probably expect to be paid for it. They've also left every single room in the house several inches thick in plaster-dust and ground-in dirt, walls splattered with plaster and general grime, etc.

I don't think there's any way we can delay the move now, but I also don't see how we can move in on Tuesday/Wednesday (it's a two-day move). We could spend all tomorrow cleaning the house, but there's no point if they really are (as promised) going to come back on Monday and patch things up, because they'll just trash everything again. And if they don't patch things up, then we have to move into a house which still has gaping holes in all the walls, and somehow move everything out again when we get some more builders in to fix everything -- who will not only trash the house again but trash all our stuff as well this time.

I feel sick and tearful and angry every time I think about any of it. We bought a shabby-but-liveable-in house, and we've wasted thousands of pounds making it unliveable-in, and now we have to live in it anyway. If I'd known it was going to be this awful we could have hung on to this flat for another two months while we got the house sorted out, but it's too late for that now.

I suppose this is only what I deserve for being too fucking incompetent to do my own plastering, and too stupid to know how to tell whether builders are going to be useless (I trusted the recommendation of lots of people at work), but it's utterly miserable. I don't want to live in a house that's falling to pieces around me, where everything is covered in dust. I spend enough time feeling as though I'm carrying suitcases full of sand around with me, I don't need someone to make the metaphor real.

People keep making kind offers of help and suggesting "painting parties", but what we need is an electrician and a plasterer who can come out at zero notice and won't charge the earth, and some kind of miracle by which Monday can be made to last for approximately 72 hours.

I just don't know what to do.

ETA: Owen points out that we can't delay the move because the movers would charge us sixty percent of the cost of the move to change the date at this short notice.
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k425 From: k425 Date: August 8th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very few people can do their own plastering. OldBloke's pretty competent at many things, but not plastering.

I think the first thing I'd do in your position is tell the builders I won't be paying until they've made good.

I really sympathise - we moved in here and then had to move everything on a daily basis so the builders could come in and strengthen the floors. They said it would take a week and it took a fortnight and was hell. We refused to pay extra for the extra work they had to do because they'd given a quote, not an estimate.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 8th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
tell the builders I won't be paying until they've made good

But that means keeping them in the house while we're trying to live in it! And at the current rate of progress it would take weeks. Once I'm actually in there, I don't want them anywhere near it (or me) ever again. I don't want to live in a house with holes in the walls, but I'd rather that than a house full of builders.

No proper quotes or even written-down estimates here, it was all just words. I trusted this guy and his troupe of idiots because everybody at work said they were excellent.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: August 8th, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is your lease up? Otherwise, try talking to the moving people and see if they can put off for a week.

j4 From: j4 Date: August 8th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
We've agreed to give the keys back on 15th, but we could probably plead for a few extra days in the flat because the letting agent has only advertised it as available from the 30th.

The other problem is that I've got this week off work for the move & I can't take a second week off. :-(
emperor From: emperor Date: August 8th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry your builders haven't finished on time :(
juggzy From: juggzy Date: August 8th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, take pictures of the state it is in now and threaten to move into a hotel, at their cost, until it is finished.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 8th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't really threaten them with anything, we don't have a language in common. The chap who's managing them (who I'm dealing with) would just laugh. Also, they all know as well as I do that we can't move all our stuff into a hotel/storage.
khalinche From: khalinche Date: August 8th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
All horrible. I am afraid I have nothing more useful to offer than internet-hugs and a photo of many badgers.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 8th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Badgers! That's what I want our patio to look like. Covered in badgers.
atreic From: atreic Date: August 8th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's awful. I'm so sorry to hear this.

This is poorly thought out advice. If it doesn't work because of stuff I don't know, please ignore it.

0) Pack seperately enough stuff to live for a week or so. 5 days worth of cloths, one plate, bowl, knife and fork each, etc. As though you were holidaying in a tent.

1) Pressurise the builders to finish one room, ASAP.

2) Move all the stuff on the date as arranged, but stick the majority of it in boxes in the finished room.

3) Find somewhere else to live for a while. Either extend the lease on the current flat, or go and live in a B+B for a week, or similar. These are horribly expensive, but when you think about the amount you are spending on moving and decorating it is a drop in the ocean. If it isn't sustainable because of your current financial situation, which I know nothing about, friends will help. We could help. Live with the stuff you packed in (0)

4) Fix the building doom. I don't know how. Maybe the current builders get their act together, or maybe you sack them and try and get some different builders. Or maybe you really do have a decorating party with all your friends. I don't know if you can set the builders deadlines like 'sort out this room on this day, or we get someone else / pay you 50% less etc'.

5) Unpack All Your Stuff.

Hmm. I have read this and it all sounds rather naive. But maybe the fact that everyone else in your situation would feel horribly impotent and have no ideas either might be comforting in a black way? Ah well. Have some more *hugs* :-(
olithered From: olithered Date: August 8th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to hear that you're having so much strife! Building things always seems to take longer than expected, even with the best trademen we've had there has been a little over-run. Sometimes this is due to things outside of their control (eg: the weather or some suppliers).

It sounds like it should not be a surprise to them that you are moving on Tuesday...

I think atreic has some good ideas! Make sure they finish (or at least clean) one big room and pile everything you can into that. Then go and find a B+B for a week, because living on top of the mess when they're trying to finish things off will not be fun for you or them and may easily make it much slower. Deduct that cost from whatever you are paying them and repeat the following week if necessary.

Speak to citizens advice and/or a solicitor so that you at least know where you stand or what your options are. It is much easier to negotiate based on facts rather than guesses.

If they really are useless then simply don't pay them. Use the money instead to have someone good come and fix up the bare minimum to live with (hot water, heating, etc).

One way to find tradesmen is to ask at the counter of a local builders merchant. Sometimes they have lists of recommended fitters to hand out and/or they might be happy to chat. Mention that you've had a bad experience and don't want the same again.

Good luck with it all!
ultraruby From: ultraruby Date: August 8th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh man. I'm so sorry things aren't going to plan, and that you feel so awful about it.

I don't have much practical advice really; we moved into our house when it was quite a state then proceeded to rip bits out of it room by room. of course everything took longer than it was meant to and though the builders we got were basically ok they took way longer than planned and they got in a plumber so bad that it was me, looking upward at 2am (through the space where the kitchen ceiling/bathroom floor used to be - he put his foot through it and the whole thing collapsed) that had to point out that he had plumbed all the pipes in one big closed circle.

We basically camped in our living room for ages and ages - made it as dust free as possible, put the toaster, microwave and kettle on the table for our kitchen, put the bed in the corner behind a curtain on a string, lived out of suitcases. It was fun for a bit, then annoying, then tolerable, than totally horrid, but the situation improved in the end, and it will for you too.

It is VERY difficult to keep a brave face though these things, and it's horrible to feel like you're supposed to be all shiny and optimistic like those people on home programmes on the telly or whatever, and oh my GOD the dust drives you mad and makes your hair literally stand on end. But. You'll get through it. Whatever you choose to do or try to do or eventually end up having to do, you'll get through the other side and sooner or later you will have your house in one piece, and it will become your proper beautiful home.
crouchinglynx From: crouchinglynx Date: August 9th, 2009 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)


If you are looking at alternative storage places, then I have more space than I realistically need in my front room - not a four-bed-flat's worth, but enough for a few carloads.
venta From: venta Date: August 9th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
That sounds truly awful - but please don't beat yourself up about it; many, many people (a) can't plaster and (b) have been screwed over by builders. It's not particular ineptitude or stupidity on your part.

If you end up living in a sort of camping-out style, remember that we're about 90 seconds away, and can if necessary provide things like a spare room which (though a little beset with boxes) doesn't have holes in the walls if you want to run away for a night or two. If there's anything practical in the way of help we can offer, shout. We can also offer coffee/tea/dinner/a darkened room and sympathetic ears if you want to come and bawl in between bouts of dealing with builders (either/both of you).
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: August 9th, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm so sorry this has happened. I can't give any advice or suggestions you haven't heard already; I probably can't realistically do much to help, but of course I will, like a shot, if I can. I hope you manage to work out a bearable way to deal with all this and come out the other side.
qatsi From: qatsi Date: August 9th, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
This all sounds awful, and makes me feel really lucky with the bits of work I've had done. Even though, at the moment, we have a 5-year old (and consequently out of warranty) toilet with non-standard valves whose cistern doesn't fill and therefore doesn't work in a way in which the plumber can't explain and the manufacturer's helpline insists is not possible (it's only one of three toilets in the house, to put things in perspective). I don't necessarily advocate the detail of the quotation below, all I can offer is its ultimate sentiment:

Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.
camellia_uk From: camellia_uk Date: August 9th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ugh. There's probably not much I can do to help (being the other end of the country and having no car), but I have some possible words of hope from Ben who's been through the whole nightmare of needing tons of work doing to the house (and wouldn't do his own plastering, it looks simple but you apparently need to be incredibly skilled to get it right so it doesn't need doing again). He said that his plasterers seemed to be taking ages and causing huge mess without doing anything, but then did actually do the work in an amazingly short space of time, they can be very quick when they have to. So here's hoping, fingers crossed... :-S
*sends good vibes, badgers, tea and hugs...*
cartesiandaemon From: cartesiandaemon Date: August 12th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Belated sympathy. I'm sorry.
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