Building on experience
Planning a new build, renovation or extension? There are many, many good artisans in this area but, as with any trade, there is always the odd bad apple.
Here we feature a few real-life scenarios describing actual projects that have gone wrong and, just in case, give some helpful tips to ensure you avoid something similar happening to you.
Who Does What?
Installing a new shower room next to a bathroom involved knocking a hole through the wall, taking pipes through, connecting them up, building the shower cubicle and making good. The plumber turned up but refused to do anything as the opening had not been made. Another artisan had to not only knock through but, also, form the base of the shower tray and make the seat which would eventually be tiled. Several days later the opening was there but not the plumber, who was now tied up for a couple of weeks. He plumbed the installation but wouldn’t make good. That required the second guy coming back at additional cost and seriously extending the timeframe. Building on experience, we now know the questions to ask.
Tip: Some artisans can and will only do certain tasks. Check at the quote stage and ensure that the works can be co-ordinated within a specified timeframe.
Having heard a few horror stories and mindful of the need to keep an eye on the costs of quite a large renovation, this couple insisted on a devis. A few items were changed along the way such as electric socket positions, the exact location of a wall, a door opening but, they thought, nothing major and no costs were mentioned. It wasn’t like they had specified new roof tiles or building materials. At the end of the works they received an additional bill for EUR 10,000! An argument ensued and they finished up paying some of it, but not all.
Tip: Check your devis thoroughly. Ensure any extra costs are quoted and agreed prior to works.
Building on experience with Decennial Insurance
Part of a large renovation job included fitting a wall hung double vanity unit to a newly plastered wall. Three years later, it literally fell off, taking part of the plaster wall with it, revealing a 7cm cavity between the original wall and plasterboard (which was not suitable for use in damp areas). The unit had only been secured to the plasterboard, not the original wall, with short screws and glue. It was a miracle it had stayed up at all! The builder came to have a look and immediately said it was nothing to do with him and wanted EUR 600 to make good, saying it was down to the plumber, who was away for three months. The builder had brought the plumber in as part of his contract to complete the whole renovation! He suggested the homeowners claimed on their insurance. They argued and found out that not only was the plumber not away but the builder didn’t have any decennial insurance. Not trusting him to do the job properly, they found someone else to make good. (See the legal column in this issue for the legal facts about decennial assurance).
Tip: Make sure your contractor is registered and has decennial assurance, and that your contract is with them, not with third parties that they choose to bring in. Building on experience, it’s worth it!
Changing a square raised flower bed into a pond should have been easy, not a shocking experience. Once the level of the stone walls had been raised, the builder brought in his own electrician to build a secure electrical box and fit the lights and pump. However, the box filled with water every time it rained. An excuse was made that it because of the flood plain – the house was on top of a hill! The main issue was when the owner put a hand in the water and felt a tingling. A registered electrician was called and said it was lucky no one had been killed! It turns out that not only was the electrician not registered, or insured, he hadn’t even had proper training.
Tip: Don’t assume that a third party brought in by your builder is qualified or registered. Ask the question. Third party contractors should be registered, insured and properly trained too.
A boiler repair was quoted and accepted on an hourly rate. The guy turned up with an apprentice who literally just went to and from the van fetching and carrying. The final bill was for two people at the same hourly rate.
Tip: You may think the rate refers to one person, always check. The presence of an apprentice or colleague may mean that you will be charged double.
Looking for an artisan?
You can find a list of registered, English speaking builders, plumbers, roofers, electricians, carpenters, flooring specialists, sandblasters, ground excavators, masons and other trades on our website. However, you should always check that the company is registered, qualified and insured in accordance with the works involved.
First published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of The Local Buzz