Do not go with South London Lofts under any circumstances....
In December 2017 I asked 2 companies to come and give me some advice about a possible loft conversion and a possible first-floor extension. South London Lofts sent Michael Cook, their architect round. Michael was open and friendly, and we felt comfortable with him. Michael told us the loft conversion could be done without a building permit and the first-floor might be possible. Michael sent through quotes reasonably quickly. They were not the cheapest, but we felt they were reassuringly expensive.
We did a comparison with a second company (in retrospect we should have seen more). The second company said categorically that there was no-way the first-floor extension would be possible, that should maybe have been a warning, but we gave SLL the benefit of the doubt.
We had several exchanges back and forth with Michael, including explaining the first floor wouldn’t be possible. Responses were quite slow. This took us up to the end of April when Michael scheduled a meeting to do the survey for the plans. Very quickly after the meeting, we transferred the 1500 GBP deposit asked for that we were told would be deducted from the 15% deposit later. 10 days later we received the plan.
We asked for a second meeting to talk through the plans because it would be faster than an email exchange. After having to chase via email, we got a meeting weeks later and discussed changes including a larger window, a walk-in shower and a change for a door. About a month later (yes, a month) we got the plans back that included the new window but none of the other changes requested. I asked for the other changes to be made to the plans and Michael replied that they didn’t really matter, and they could be seen with the project manager. I insisted on the change so that we could have for example the right dimension for ordering the shower. We were repeatedly told that we could be booked in to start work as soon as we paid the deposit and that generally work could start in a matter of weeks in order to be completed before Mid-December (it was a condition).
About a month later, after no response, we asked for plans again, Michael could not remember what the changes were and so I sent through a marked-up PDF with the changes requested. This stayed without response until we chased up yet again via email. It’s now September ( 9 months have passed) and we get accurate plans. And immediately asks for a deposit of over 5300 GBP so that we can finally fix a date. Michael confirms again that the booking will be fast, work can commence in a matter of weeks and that all should be wrapped up before Mid-December. We decided that since we were already 1500 GBP in, we would proceed and pay the rest, obviously a mistake in retrospect. We paid immediately and sent the signed contract. That was when the fun really started.
Almost a week after payment, we had to chase and ask for confirmation of a date. We were told no confirmation of start of work date despite we always stressed, and it was agreed that it must be completed before Mid-December (it was a condition). However, they proved really effective at asking for more money!! Within a week |I had been contacted by someone called Edyta asking for another 840 GBP and another person called Andy informing us we would be receiving a second invoice and that we needed to pay it immediately to do an asbestos survey. After several emails from us, we finally got the invoice and paid it immediately. The asbestos guy spent exactly 7 minutes in our house – that’s pretty good for another 240 GBP. So we already spent 7880GBP (1500+5300+840+240 GBP) for getting one plan.
During all of this I had asked each of them for a starting date - which they ignored - and then sent a separate email to Craig Taylor, the owner asking for a starting date and what other invoices I could expect to receive. No response.
I sent another email to Craig Taylor asking whether the work could be completed as agreed by December 10th which was the date, we needed for completion otherwise this would have to wait for the new year (obviously starting in January we hadn’t thought completion in 11 months would be a problem). No response other than ‘chat tomorrow’. No follow-up.
We sent another email chasing and Craig responds that he had presumed that January was fine with us based on my previous email - this exchange was in utter bad faith. After which I asked for some real commitments on date and timelines of work - Craig Taylor responded very vaguely and we started to get more and more concerned.
We responded with several requests including:
- the exact start dates for the work with a contractual commitment on that date.
- a high-level project plan including milestones with dates and intermediary commitments including the target completion date and the process or penalties if you were not to meet this completion date
- exact details of elements such as radiators, downlight, etc that they will be supplying and specifications for the elements that we need to procure and the dates we would need to have these. Obviously, the project was poorly driven and apart from sending invoices they had no clue of what was needed for this work.
Craig Taylor responded asking for a ‘chat’.
I asked for a time for the scheduled ‘chat’ and during the call, Craig continued to twist the facts, saying they did lots of lofts but gave no commitments. I told Craig that we had lost confidence and asked that we cease the relationship and asked for the deposit back since no work had been undertaken within the agreed timeframe and no date given. On top of the deposit, we paid almost 2600 GBP for plans and other things that will prove useless.
Craig Taylor became extremely rude and abusive (I put the loudspeaker on and have witnesses). He screamed down the phone accusing me of first changing my mind about the work and then secondly choosing another company, neither of which was obviously true. Craig then hung up on me and refused to take any of my calls. Maybe hoping to bully me and keep all the money?
Finally, we are now in a dispute with this firm and are trying to get our deposit back because he misrepresented. We have given them in excess of 7880 GBP and have absolutely nothing to show for it apart from basic plans we had to amend ourselves and where things are inaccurate. We are now going to go to court and will demand our deposit and indemnities.
They offered to settle giving us just over 2000 GBP back UNDER THE CONDITION WE ARE GAGGED quote ‘The undertakings will relate to confidentiality, removal of all reviews, an agreement not to place any new reviews or publish any adverse comments in relation to our clients and their officers etc.
We have of course rejected this and will pursue the claim.
There are many recent very bad reviews about this group ( South London Lodge and Building London ) and their unprofessional behavior. Other dissatisfied clients can contact us.
Bottom line - go with anybody except this firm!!