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How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

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LLS
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How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby LLS » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:52 pm

Help! We had our house completely renovated and extended back in 2014-2015 and since having moved into the house, we have realised that all of our light fixtures in the bathrooms are plastered into the ceiling with no way to change just the light bulbs. To change any single light bulb, we have to physically carve out the light fixtures from the ceiling which then creates gaping holes around them, and then replaster them back into the ceiling. Our builders (not a one-man amateur but a rather prominent building company in SW London) have said this is "normal" and for any removing of the light fixtures and replastering the ceiling, we will need to pay them for the work because it is "maintenance" and not covered under their six year guarantee. We have asked to have a call with them but they are not responding to our calls, texts or emails.
Has anyone been in this situation before? It has been two years since we have tried to get them to fix this and we are coming to the end of our tether. Is there a governing body that regulates builders? What can we do to get them to come and fix this problem? Any advice would be much appreciated!
SW12Pops
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby SW12Pops » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:22 pm

That is SO weird.

So if you need to change a light bulb you need to remove the actual light fitting and wreck the ceiling?

If that's the case and they're not responding simply write them a letter entitled "Letter before Action".

Give them seven days to reply and then take them to the small claims court.

Super easy to do and they onus is then on them to actually fight back.

If they ignore you they lose!
chorister
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby chorister » Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:21 pm

Get a lawyer (my recommendation would be Gregsons in Wimbledon). It's not worth wasting more time.

And I am pretty sure (but not certain) that there are regulations governing what type of light fitting can be installed in a bathroom, because of the proximity to water. It may be worth getting someone who knows to check what they have fitted - if the fittings are not correct then you may have a much more extensive claim.
SW12Pops
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby SW12Pops » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:05 pm

Yes you are right about the light fittings and bathrooms.
LLS
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby LLS » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:13 pm

Thank you both!! It has been such a frustrating experience with our builders, especially because I feel that they were just trying to delay things by not responding and hoping we will just go away. We are going to write them a formal complaint and give them seven days to respond. If they don’t we will file a claim. It has taken so much of my time and emotional energy to get to this point... I don’t understand how a company of this size and prominence in SW London can be so unprofessional! Thank you for your advice.
robinm
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby robinm » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:58 pm

Before you go through the stress of all this - perhaps get the advice of an electrician. They will cost circa £50 for a call out and then be able to tell you what is necessary. Balham Electricial Services are decent for low cost call outs.
dudette
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby dudette » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:18 am

At the time you did the work there were rules on installing low energy lights so I’m wondering what sort of lights you have that involve a “bulb”? We had our house renovated in 2012-13 and had to install LEDs which come as a whole unit. I agree that before you do anything else you should get a reputable electrician round to advise on the installation.
LLS
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby LLS » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:40 am

Thank you for your advice. We have spot lights in the bathrooms. I have an independent electrician involved now who agrees this is an unworkable situation and says the problem is that the holes our builders drilled for the light fixtures are the wrong size, and that the light fixtures do not have a flap which should open and close to allow light bulb changes.
Thank you also for the advice on small claims court and lawyer.
IrenaP
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby IrenaP » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:28 pm

I have asked my builder about this. He said that the fittings are probably a little fiddly given when they were installed and the type. He seemed to think this was a common issue. However he said that any decent builder would come back to show you how to do it. UNLESS they thought you were being difficult. Did you have a poor relationship with your builder before this? I know this is a strange answer but being in the industry myself I think there is some give and take in reality unlike other industries and perhaps a different approach is worth taking before you go to court about a lightbulb.
LLS
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby LLS » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:04 am

Hi IrenaP, that's a very insightful question. We initially had a good relationship with our builders and even recommended them to our friends (we had some frustrations during the project and there were delays but I thought this was part and parcel of a building project).

Problems began once we paid the final bill and moved into the house. A LOT of things went wrong within weeks of moving in - faulty pipeworks led to flooding in the kitchen and basement, the waterproof membrane in the basement walls was not installed properly and the water leaked through the walls and damaged our wooden floors, the bathroom shower flooded because the angle of the tiling meant that the water flowed away from the drain rather than towards it, our boiler failed on New Year's eve (we could've just been unlucky here but the builders were annoyed that I called them about it over the holidays...we have young children and need heat and hot water in the middle of winter. In the end, we were just desperate and called an emergency plumber), our man hole covers started rusting and staining the tiled flooring, the toilet pipework began leaking, spot lights in our bedroom would just fall out, our PIR lights stopped working... I mean the list goes on. We felt that a lot of the works were done to a substandard level and it took several phone calls, emails and texts just to get a response. And whilst they did eventually fix some of these problems, the builders said most of these were "maintenance" problems and not covered by our six year guarantee, and that we would have to pay them to get these fixed. It made me wonder whether they carelessly did a substandard job and just thought they could charge us more when it came time to fix them. And for some of these problems, we just paid local tradesmen to get them fixed either because of the urgency of the problem or because we couldn't face having to spend weeks/months chasing our builders.

It's helpful to hear from someone in the industry and thank you for asking your builder. Our builders can't get the light bulbs replaced without carving them out of the ceiling and recaulking (as I am told) and redecorating the ceiling either. I wrote them a letter of complaint and they have now responded, refusing to replace/repair the lights (because they see nothing wrong with the way they installed them) and have accused ME of bullying them because my letter said if we can't come to an agreement, we would have no recourse but to take legal action. You're right that these are just bathroom lights but I suppose they are the straw that breaks the camel's back!

If you have any advice from the point of view of someone in the industry, please do let me know! I'm not sure what other options I have now other than filing a claim.
 
movingsouth
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby movingsouth » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:06 pm

Best thing you can do is privately act as a negative reference whenever you see your builder mentioned, and also send the issues you've had to other builders to help them win business away from yours... that's what I'm going to do.
Last edited by movingsouth on Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
Lulubear
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby Lulubear » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:01 pm

Before you let an electrician do any work to repair this make sure you have an appropriate report in writing that you can use as evidence in court. Unfortunately, just getting a builder or electrician out to give you a verbal opinion is no good. Most will run a mile if you then ask them to provide any sort of witness statement on the inadequacies of the previous work and once you have had it fixed you cannot later get anyone to report on the faults!

Some electricians are able to do official inspection reports (e.g. NICEIC registered electricians who can do a Period Inspection Report) which may be worth getting done for a start, partly for your own peace of mind. You may have to consider some sort of report from a surveyor as well to cover other building defects. Unfortunately all these things mean up front expenditure before you even know how big the problems are but you would then claim these costs back as part of your court case if the report (s) confirm the builder has carried out defective work. You are right to have written to them first as you need to give them a chance to sort out the problems before you arrange for anyone else to do the work and start court proceedings.

The list of problems you are describing makes this building company sound like an absolute disgrace. I hope you get it sorted.
Lulubear
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby Lulubear » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:15 pm

Oh, and try to get three quotes to fix the work before you go ahead because if you only have one quote the original builders may try to argue you could have got it done more cheaply!
IrenaP
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby IrenaP » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:50 pm

Hi LLS, let me give some thought to this. I will get back to you.
Seb
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Re: How do you get your builder to come back and fix their mistakes?

Postby Seb » Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:24 am

Small claims court.

Easy to do yourself and makes them sit up and take notice.