We had plans drawn up for a straighforward loft conversion to add two extra bedrooms and a bathroom to our bungalow 18 months ago. Four builders were asked for a quote. Three turned up, talked a good game, none bothered to quote! I tried again with another five. Four turned up, three quoted, but one quote was ridiculously high.
We gave the go ahead to one so they started with strengthening the flooring, but two weeks into the job it was clear that there would be insufficient headroom in one room so a 5m long dormer would also be required. The builder stopped work immediately, saying he would not work without new plans, although there was plenty of work that they could have continued with. We had the new plans within a week but they did not return for seven! The revised quote to add the dormer had jumped alarmingly by a ludicrous amount so we told them to stop where they were and I would pay for the work done up to that point. The bill was on the high side but we paid it.
I then contacted six more builders for the dormer, having learned from experience that most would not quote! All turned up, talked a good game, only one quoted - We gave then the job, then we hired the scaffolding and erected it just before the start date. They showed up two weeks late but they did an excellent job.
The problems started when the bill arrived. They had quoted for all the labour but we would supply all materials. The quote included "felting the roof" and "all labour" but we were billed and extra £1,200 for the roof covering (fibreglass as it turned out) and £550 for the leadwork. The builder claimed that "felting the roof" only meant preparing it for the fibreglass, and that leadwork was "always an extra". While we were happy to pay for the fibreglass materials and for the lead used we did not think that we should have been charged for the labour.
We paid the bill anyway as we wanted an end to the whole experience.
Since then we have discovered that the first builder did not make the opening in the floor for the stair long enough to give enough head height and I have had to open it out and rebuild it. Then that they have left large gaps under the floor where insulation should have been laid but wasn't, and that the insualtion to the outer walls is half the thickness it should have been. We also found that the second builder did not add on the double rafters to each end of the dormer as required in the plans, and that where some rafter bolts had been removed to allow other timbers to be attached, the original bolts had not been re-fitted!
All the interior work has now to be done, but this time I will be doing it myself. I would have done so but was nervous about getting things perfect for building control. Now I don't see how I can do any worse.
It never seems to be like that on the TV programmes!
Are all builders like this, or are we just unlucky?
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