Forgetting the PRS here too!

Forgetting the PRS here too!

11:00 AM, 30th May 2022, About 3 months ago 1

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Hi everyone, An interesting article here from Inside Housing “Going bust: how contractor insolvencies are affecting development and repairs.”

The effects are felt all over though in the wider housing industry.

As a landlord, I am finding getting contractors and tradespeople an absolute nightmare at the moment.

I wonder how this is going to feed into and affect the planning for forcing EPC C requirements on the PRS?

Big ideas and lots of retrofits…but is there going to be the labour and skills????




9:32 AM, 4th June 2022, About 2 months ago

[ Rant Mode: ON ]

I know that this is going to be an extremely unpopular post as I will be accused of using altogether too broad a brush but, whilst wholeheartedly agreeing with the observation regarding the shortage of contractors, the biggest beef I have is the poor quality of work delivered by them. So much so that we are driven to doing more and more of our own maintenance (despite the distances involved as we are not local) due to the intense disappointment of discovering the general absence of care, attention, and, frankly, downright lack of what I regard as even basic levels of skill combined with a measure of dishonesty and deceit (in the form of covering up problems rather than fixing them) and then being expected to pay for it.

One of the most egregious recent examples was a contractor that I had carefully screened by telephone (having rejected several others before him for failing to demonstrate adequate levels of knowledge and understanding about the finer points of getting a job done right) who attended to repair the handle on an entrance door. As is increasingly my wont I requested that he call me WHILST ON SITE to further discuss anything that might come up. During this conversation he assured me that he felt the repair could be affected with the use of superglue. Now, believe it or not, there are indeed instances where glue is an appropriate solution (heck - it is even used to attach the wings to some aircraft!) so I was prepared to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Upon the very first use of the door by the letting agent at the start of a viewing the handle came off in her hand! Fortunately, on that occasion, we managed to stop the payment but so often immediate payment is demanded and the dust from the horses hooves as they head off into the sunset has long since settled by the time the problem is discovered.

Funnily enough, at it's very heart, I don't really blame the contractors as a body en mass for this as they are typically working to a cost point that has customarily been demanded by their clients - i.e. landlords who, as a body (there goes that sweeping generalisation again!) seem to always prefer the cheapest possible "solution" rather than paying to get the job done properly. They have been working for so long (many generations) under these terms that they simply literally cannot conceive of ever doing anything another, better, way. I have lost sight of the number of times that I have been advised that "this" (the cheapest possible rubbish option) is what "all the landlords" want / fit and disabusing them (as a body) of this internalised quality standard is all but impossible.

This has been going on so long now (from the beginning of time itself?) that the contractors treat it as an immutable law of the universe - even when I explain at length that what I seek is quality rather than a low price. But despite this they just seem unable to internalise this and quote accordingly.

Of course there are many many exceptions and I am thinking in particular of one of my recent bathroom refurbs in Leeds where an absolutely excellent job was done by a local contractor. But unfortunately this is a rare experience. The next bathroom refurb in Salford was quoted for by the same guy but it took him so long to get home down the M62 after visiting site that he had, understandably, to decline to take it on.

We are currently in the process of ripping out all the work done by the guy that did get the job as be abandoned it (walking off with a very substantial down payment) and I'm very glad that he did because if he had not we would not have discovered that he had completely ignored all of my detailed instructions on the quality of materials to be used opting instead for the cheapest non-waterproof shite (chipboard - not even the green water resistant kind - and plasterboard from B&Q instead of the waterproof insulated tile backer board that I specified). I have many photos of the horrendous "work" done by him that was exposed as we ripped it all back out again and this gentleman will be in receipt of some lively court related action very shortly.

So to all the contractors out there I say this: when rehanging a door using an impact driver (!!!) to over-drive previously pristine stainless steel door screws using the wrong size bit thus achieving the twin results of stripping out the thread in the wood of the door and rounding of the screw head recesses and then complaining when asked to repair the door and replace the screws using the proper stainless steel replacement (not the cheapest available non-matching and oversized ones from Screwfix) and a manual screwdriver is NOT okay!

I have had this happen to me so often (with different contractors all over the country) that I now issue DETAILED instructions on just how to go about this task and yet still they ignore me. (I'm beginning to wonder if some of them can even read!)

Yes, I'm bitter.

No, because of the geographically diverse locations of our properties it has not been possible to alight on a reliable firm that can be trusted to deliver on our quality standards because the nature of things is that, for any given property, the problems crop up on an unpredictable basis and so it is not possible to offer a contractor the kind of regular work from having one's portfolio (sensibly!) located in one area.

[ Rant Mode: OFF !!! ]

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