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Long post - trouble with workmen! Any suggestions :-)

debbiehardy 16 363 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2006 7:25AM
We've had some people in for a complete refit of our bathroom. It's been a
botched job from start to finish, and I'm trying to evaluate my options.

One of those options is to sack then outright, so I need to check my legal
standing with regard to payment.

Half the tiles are damaged from three botched attempts to lay them, and
because they used the wrong tool to cut them. They used an angle grinder,
which means that the garage (where I store a lot of my equipment) has a
thick layer of tile dust. So far, I've had a projector filter clogged to the
extent that it needs a replacement lamp, and a laminator fail, but I expect
to be feeling the effects of this dust in other equipment for some time to
come (my laser printer is making an odd noise, but still prints OK).

The bathroom suite is damaged because they installed it and then had to
re-lay the tiles twice. They've also had the damaged tiles soaking in a bath full of cold water which I've learned isn't good for tiles.

The quality of workmanship with the tiling is amateur - I'm not suggesting I
could do it better, but I would have been able to do the same sort of job
myself. The whole point of getting them in was because we wanted

We've had to have the drain cleared because they flushed building debris
down the toilet (it didn't occur to them to put the toilet seat down -
typical men, eh?). There's a point of argument there because the drain had a
tree root in it which they say is the cause of the blockage, but when Dyno
Rod went in, it was building debris stacked up against the root.

We've had a leak through a downstairs ceiling which they dispute is their
fault - saying it's a coincidence that an old lead pipe failed while they
were working on the plumbing.

We've had another leak through a downstairs ceiling which they disputed was
their fault, until we pointed out it was from a pipe they had installed.
This has discoloured freshly painted kitchen ceiling, and damaged the
cornice and ceiling plaster.

We've had a radiator leak black fluid onto the carpet. It's a naff old
thing, and needs replacing at some point, but the leak means we need to do
it now, not at our leisure.

There's been a whole load of other stuff too - like having the front garden
full of dead bathroom - but that doesn't really affect the money side of
things. There are some unquantifiables too, such as the potential business
lost from not having a suitable bathroom when clients need to use it.

They've been given several opportunities to rectify the work, but each time
they try, it gets worse, not better. They are at the point where they are
wanting to pencil in ragged edges on tiles, because it would cost them a
grand to pull the tiles down and start again, replacing the ragged tiles
with new.

Our own outlay so far has been for the tiles (about a grand) and 150 quid -
twice - to repair a plasterboard wall that's been damaged from tile removal.
We were lucky in that the insurance covered the drain clearing.

Their outlay has been for the bathroom suite and wages, plus "consumables".
I'd estimate their material costs at 600 to 800 quid, because I think they
quoted the bathroom at cost rather than adding their own markup.

These people aren't cowboy traders - they appeared to come in with every
intention of doing a good job, and they have assured us that they want us to
be 100% happy. It seems that a couple of rushed aspects of the job, and one
preoccupied employee and one incompetent one (both since sacked) have turned
this into a nightmare for all concerned.

There has been some good-quality work (from one of their lads in particular)
so I don't think I'll get away with calling it quits. Having said that, he
did a bit of angle grinding of tiles in the garage himself, _after_ it was
made clear to them that the tile dust is going to screw up the equipment in

My anticipated costs are 800 quid for the projector service and lamp (it
would be far cheaper to replace it with a new one), the laser printer cost
550 when new (again, they are much cheaper now - but then I'd have a stock
of useless toner), the laminator is about 30. There is dust in two
monitors, but until I get the space to test them, I can't quantify any more

What do I have to pay him, and can I deduct for damage to tiles, bathroom
suite, decor and equipment etc? Their quote was two thousand, not including
tiles, but including a floor which we've not allowed them to lay, yet. He's
paid for the flooring - not sure how much that cost him.

Thanks for getting this far, and even more thanks if you can help...

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strawman 16 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2006 7:29AM
Are they in any way linked to a professional federation. It may be best to contact them. Also if they caused damage are they not insured against that? I doubt it will be reasonable to claim for all you mention, but you may get some.
User_Removed 16 1.4k United Kingdom
3 Feb 2006 7:34AM
I can't offer any advice with this I'm affraid Debbie, but just wanted to say good luck with whatever the outcome may be!!

I'm sure someone will be along pretty soon to help you!

Good Luck!
Craig Smile
marcuskeeler 15 79
3 Feb 2006 7:40AM
Frankly, the list of problems is horrendous and I would have sacked them long ago.
Surely any problems you may encounter in combating claims they make against work carried out will be negated by avoiding further botching.

A case of damage limitation.
User_Removed 15 4.9k England
3 Feb 2006 7:42AM

Quote:These people aren't cowboy traders - they appeared to come in with every
intention of doing a good job, and they have assured us that they want us to
be 100% happy. It seems that a couple of rushed aspects of the job, and one
preoccupied employee and one incompetent one (both since sacked) have turned
this into a nightmare for all concerned.

Hard to give any advice, as ultimately it's up to you. But going on the quote above, it seems you have some faith in them. With hindsight, the garage should have been locked to stop them using it.
Maybe the fact, they have damaged the stuff in there, is complicating how you judge there work. Just a thought... not a criticism.
Col PS: I've angle grinded hearth tiles in my garage, and know the dust problem.... it goes everywhere.
debbiehardy 16 363 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2006 8:24AM
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read the lengthy tome and add your thoughts. It does all help.

We are novices when it comes to DIY and there was no mention of angle-grinding causing dust...we'd no idea. If we'd been warned, we'd have happily moved all the stuff into a safe placeSmile)
cats_123 Plus
16 5.0k 30 Northern Ireland
3 Feb 2006 9:24AM
If it's any consolation we were stuffed by a cowboy trader (actually exposed on TV a few yrs later).

I would say, if your workmen are genuine, then try listing all the problems and asking for a meet to discuss what is a realistic figure. Alternatively, pay what you think the value of the work is less any hidden costs for repairs, damage etc (if they're genuine they'll be insured - if they're not, they won't want to know and will just up and leave).

Of course, if you sack them, then you may be worse off in the short term, but may be able to get a real pro to finish it off at a decent price.

If you don't pay...what are their options. Take you to court? If your offer of payment is reasonable, then they would have to prove otherwise.

Of course, you could always employ an architect to give you a valuation, but that would also cost you

probably not much help, but good luck
jonjeds 16 509
3 Feb 2006 10:26AM
Call in a local chartered building surveyor and ask them to evaluate the work and advise you on options.

For the time being I would write to the contractor and tell them plainly that you are not satisfied with the standard of work and that their failed attempts to rectify problems leave you with no confidence in their ability to complete the job. Also advise them that you will be taking professional advice.

Put everything in writing and keep it clear and simple.

Here's a link to the RICS find a surveyor website:

KenTaylor 15 3.1k 2 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2006 11:24AM
Oh dear, yet another botched job.
I have been in the building trade for over 50 years with changes that have taken place that leaves me aghast.

Training is the big problem that is almost non existant.
In your case it would be wise to have a meeting to thrash out the differences. Throwing each other into court only keeps the lawyers happy.

As for the water damage it should have been within the quotation that existing water pipes are not their responsability considering that they are lead which by the way is not legal and should all have been replaced.

Arrange a meeting and come to arrangment to recify the work by a third party and they cover the cost. Exchange no finance until full completion and satisfaction. A building surveyer will add to the cost for what appears a simple job.

An old tale but you should have got references from other customers and view the work they have done. Detailed estimate stating their insurance cover, which is important when plumbing work is being done as accidents do happen.

As for the dust damage then the ball is in your court being that you should have removed the equipment or at least covered properly. It can be assumed that they had no idea on the value of such equipment. All building work creates dust with or without a grinder.

Try and keep calm when going through the problems with him. If he gets stroppy then cut your loss and look elsewhere for someone of repute.

On a last note I would say the figure of 2000 for stripping out a bathroom and fitting a new suite with tiling is too good to be true.
Hope you get sorted out without any hassle. You might consider the Trading Standards as they might have a record of his exploits.
twordley 14 360 England
3 Feb 2006 12:04PM
debbie ,

seems u r having a hard time with these guys, i work for a bathroom company, and i have to tell u, what u let them get away with is criminal.

throw them off site,for shoddy workmanship and no confidence in there ability(ies) tell them not to return, if they start quibbing about monies owed on work done tell them fine ok put their claim in writing and u will consider paying any outstanding amounts after u have repaired your equipment and paid someone else to complete the job properly

in the meantime ring your home insurance people to see if u can claim and they reclaim back from the cowboys

ring citizens advice to see what u have to do legally to cover yourself

do NOT let them have one final chance to put it right, by sacking two fitters already they're halfway to admitting liability

and dont feel sorry for them because one employee shows some promise - u r paying for this chimp to learn how to fit bathrooms at your expense

our average supply and fit bathroom (and i must stress this is only an average price) to supply and fit a bath wc washbasin tile the floor and walls, some remidial plastering works and carpentry plus fit extractor fan and change lighting comes in at around the 6500-7000 mark although our record last year was supply and fit 2 bathrooms with fitted furniture a jacuzzi bath full sized steam cabinet/shower complete with radio tv and phone and fit out a cloakroom was a grand total all in to the customer a cool 33,500.
jonjeds 16 509
3 Feb 2006 2:23PM
Debbie, I assure you, the first thing any builder says when it gets into these problems is there is no need to call in any expensive professionals, we can sort this out between us. That is the beginnng of more trouble. From what you describe the contractor is completely incompetent and they are not going to suddenly become master builders and finish the job to a professional standard because you've had a good chat with them.

A building surveyor will cost you no more than a 150...ish for a consultation and professional advice. If it goes further - because the work is so bad it needs complete replacement - then that will be at the contractors expense. You will be armed with professional advice so you will know exactly where you stand and exactly what to expect.

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