I Should Have Known Better

I Should Have Known Better

10:19 AM, 8th February 2012, About 13 years ago 3

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After moving into my ex-HMO and refurbishing it last year, I decided that I wanted an open fire or woodburner. I’ve always wanted one and seemed to have come so close a few times but then sold a house before my dream could become a reality – husband citing it as a poor investment.

During the renovation the builder found the old hole for the fire, the surround which had been ripped out years ago in a fit of “modernisation” (bastards). I did some research and gawped at the prices of surrounds, flues, hearths and decided that I’d have to have the heating on full blast for the next 10 years to make it cheaper than fitting a fireplace and its paraphernalia. You see, I also needed to build the chimney up as someone had decided to take the stack down to just above the tray which was now leaking. £££££s or should I say, bills, were floating before my eyes. It was whilst salivating over what could be that I met THEM……………

THEY were a roofing company recommended by the fire shop I was browsing in. My builder had decided to spend most of December at the top of a well known suicidal beauty spot coming to terms with his mid-life crisis. He wasn’t in a fit state to work and was turning up at the other properties erratically. We’ve known each other for 4 years and he’s helped me out of many tight spots but unfortunately had mentally gone to a place where no-one could reach him and he felt there was no alternative but to considering jumping. (It’s OK, he didn’t. We had a few stern words, I found him a brilliant shrink, a bedsit run by a friend and he’s now back at work with me on a tight leash. He has a long way to go and I keep an eye on him when he’s on the scaffolding). His good days are now better than his bad days.

Explanation for my folly now over; THEY turned up, gave me a quote, possessed a ladder and van and could start the following day. Coupled with my friend’s suggestion of taking an Edwardian fireplace out of one of the HMOs which was causing a draft, it looked like I was on track for a toasty Christmas. As soon as this bunch of workmen started they identified other roofing problems which “could be very dangerous”. I’m not normally a pushover but my father had just been diagnosed with cancer and taken to hospital and mum had pneumonia so I wasn’t really in a position to verify their claims as I was impersonating a middle aged version of Cinderella at my parent’s house.

THEY came, THEY were paid in cash, THEY left. Two weeks later, stains appeared on the ceiling on the landing and second chimney breast that was taken down (here are the photos) and I soon realised I’d been ‘ad. However, by this time it was Christmas and I was having fun raiding my neighbour’s skips for wood to cut up and burn in an effort not to spend any money on heating – it worked, my gas bill for December and January was £50!

In the New Year my builder was released in a fairly sorry state from hospital where he’d been sectioned and came over for a chat. He soon perked up when he looked at the problems that had been caused by THEIR crappy workmanship and has been sorting it out during the last couple of weeks. THEY’D used the wrong materials which were already soaking causing more damp, put the rubble down one unused chimney breast causing the paint to flake inside and, in his opinion, deliberately put holes in the flashing on the gully which was causing watermarks on the ceiling. With glee he scoffed “What cowboys did this then?”. I replied “Don’t blame me, it’s your fault for leaving me in my hour of need and trying to chuck yourself off a cliff!” We’ve agreed to call a truce and only bring it up when he’s scratching his chin or sucking his teeth in disbelief.

Moral of the story – if you don’t have someone you can trust, get quotes and full references and look on Property 118 for trades in your area!

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8:29 AM, 9th February 2012, About 13 years ago

Sorry to hear you got ripped off. Did you go back to the fire shop and tell them they'd recommended a bunch of cowboys?

15:30 PM, 9th February 2012, About 13 years ago

If it's any consolation my builder can't resist having a laugh every time he visits for whatever small job "I never did think you needed a DPC in this place...' (3 months of hell, tear-jerking sum of money, running damp where it wasn't before!)
I just kick him every time he says it now. And I've left testimonials on Property118 for all the good guys who helped put things right!


20:45 PM, 9th February 2012, About 13 years ago

It's on my list of To Do over half term and I'm going to have a word with our trading standards too. Really, though, I should have known better and it serves me right for getting impatient! The post was meant as a warning to others although I'm sure most readers wouldn't have let them unload their ladders off the van!

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