I've found this website extremely useful in the past and unfortunately I find myself in the situation where I need your help.
I contracted a building company (LTD) to undertake various ground and roof works for my property which I own. I contracted them as they are a large firm and I wanted some comeback if things went wrong etc. How foolish I was. The work has started late, taken multiple weeks to complete and is now is such a poor standard I’m quite embarrassed. Please see below for a timeline.
Work was agreed with Company director (who later I was told only deals with roofing). His brother is the Groundworks director.
Work 1 Rear Patio, total £2,650.00. Deposit Paid - £530.00
Work 2 Front Drive total £7,888.00. Deposit Paid - £1,577.60
Work 3 Porch roof total £1,678.00. Deposit Paid - £335.60
Work 4 guttering total £3,456.00. Deposit Paid - £691.20
Timeline of events
· 12/3/21- Company contracted to repair porch roof, guttering and block pave front garden and portion of rear garden. Deposit of £3134 paid and agreed on start date of 26/4/21
· 23/4/21- email sent to company asking when work will commence as no confirmation or information given by company. I was informed that there were delays due to materials. Advised scaffolding will go up on30/4/21 and works will commence 4/5/21.
· 30/4/21- email sent asking why scaffolding has not been erected. Company emailed back stating that scaffold subcontractor has van off road leading to delays.
· 4/5/21 scaffolding erected and porch roof and guttering completed.
· 14/5/21-invoice received for work 3 and 4
· 15/5/21- additional work not agreed in contract required doing (flat roof repair) this was stated as goodwill in contract, but company director came and asked for £1000 in cash. This was no originally agreed in contract.
· 17/5/21- invoice paid for roof and guttering £4107
· 1/6/21- work commenced on front drive (works 3). Issues raised as the porch builders left a supporting wooden post on bricks, which was now too short to be installed on the driveway being produced.
· 2/6/21- chased company director regarding mistake made with post
· 7/6/21 received text message that post would be repaired
· 9/7/21 multiple delays to work for front drive (work 2). Arguments between subcontractors regarding delays to material from company. They began to threaten to walk off the job and state that Jewson’s and building firms would not release materials as company has not paid bills. – Subcontractor for block paving stated he would not be doing the work and the whole team left the site approximately 15:55.
I rang company director immediately to inform builders have left site. He became hostile so I said I’d contact via email and hung up. Received text stating builders would be returning to collect “tools etc.” - Company director left voicemail stating he would be instructing his solicitors to charge interest on additional work performed and interest on day’s payment is withheld. Additionally stated that as payment has not been made, as per his contract, all the materials belong to him and he will come and remove them all.
· Advised that builders would be returning on 14/06/21 to finish work.
· 12/6/21 Invoice received for Work 1 , 6310.40
· 14/6/21 Email sent as rear work has not commenced. Building materials left in the street on the pavement and neighbours beginning to get angry. Explained to director that this was not acceptable and that pedestrians could not get past.
· 15/6/21- sent email explaining that there were issues with the workmanship and quality which were unacceptable. Requested that they be rectified.
· 19/6/21-30/6/21- backwards and forward emails. Initial company director who signed contract for work now stated that his brother (other director) dealt with groundworks and to speak to him. Many days without a reply. Then informed groundworks director is having dental work and isolating because of COVID.
· 30/6/21- Groundworks director sent email stating that someone would attend to rectify work. Did not answer any questions or points raised.
· 14/7/21- email received that workers would attend tomorrow to complete remedial work- still did not confirm or accept what remedial work this would be. Wrote email back stating that this was short notice and that no one would be available. Groundworks director sent text message that I was breaching terms and conditions and that someone would attend tomorrow. Another email received that workers will attend for the front and will attend for the rear another day.
· 16/7/21- email received on Friday by groundworks director stating that all the work looks good and that everything which has been done is “goodwill”. Now want full payment.
· 19/7/21- another email from “accounts” requested immediate payment.
· 20/7/21- Email from “accounts”
We have not had any response or reply from yourself regarding the outstanding invoices, the work has now been completed and I am told extra works not on the contract were carried out also.
Once I have these works confirmed by groundworks director I will issue another invoice but in the meantime payment of the outstanding invoices is required immediately, failure to do this may result in us putting the debt into the hands of our debt collection agency where more charges will be incurred.
Although we do not wish to go down this route unless we have some reply and payment made then you leave us with no alternative.
· Further email 20/7/21
Dear (customer- me)
Please find copy of (Groundwork directors) e-mail, I also notice your comment : May I reiterate that I am very keen to resolve this dispute and pay you in full, as long as you meet your contractual obligations. As you have not contacted anyone we are assuming we have met our contractual obligations, over and above as the goodwill gesture implies.
We will gladly forego the additional works invoice as long as the other two invoices are paid today.
I can appreciate this is quite detailed and may be confusing. I’ve tried to make it as clear and easy to follow as possible. The main issues I have raised are in a paste of my initial email that I have sent. I can also attach photographs. I know very little about building and construction, however I have a retired friend who knows quite a bit. He has advised me the work is so poor that I should not pay until it is fixed.
In short, the main issues are aesthetic and workmanship. For the driveway there are multiple blocks which have been cut and designed poorly which just makes the whole drive look bad. There are roughly cut blocks which do not align properly and there are multiple elevation changes. I’ve read some of the British Standard for this and they are clearly in breach. Additionally they have not followed the guidance for laying sub base, edge restraints etc. The edges of the driveway are just “hanging” over loose topsoil. The rear block paving is so bad that you can trip on the gaps by the block paving.
I’ve been extremely reasonable and patient. These directors keep quoting their contract, however I don’t feel like they even know what their terms and conditions mean. Additionally, the groundworks director requested that a Tobermore representative come and inspect the property, however this person never came.
Their contract states that there is arbitration facilities available. Its clear they do not wish to use this. I have also contacted the Federation of Master Builders (which he quotes on his website as being a member of). They have informed me that he is not a member.
I’m quite overwhelmed with all these issues and avenues I need to address. The latest emails are threatening me again with coming and taking all of the materials away. I am yet to reply to his email. I’ve informed the police that there are threats of criminal damage, but they are telling me to get a solicitor.
Email I sent highlighting issues:
Dear Groundworks Contractor,
I have received no response from you with regards to the issues which I have previously made you aware of (in both of the attached emails). The issues I have raised have not been rectified, despite James confirming that they would be. It is extremely frustrating that not only have the works begun weeks late, we find ourselves in the unfortunate position where I have raised legitimate issues and they still remain unaddressed. May I reiterate that I am very keen to resolve this dispute and pay you in full, as long as you meet your contractual obligations. May I highlight the following to you:
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 States the following:
23 Right to repair or replacement
(2)If the consumer requires the trader to repair or replace the goods, the trader must—
(a) Do so within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, and
(b) Bear any necessary costs incurred in doing so (including in particular the cost of any labour, materials or postage).
Section 49- Service to be performed with reasonable care and skill
(1)Every contract to supply a service is to be treated as including a term that the trader must perform the service with reasonable care and skill.
I’m sure you would find the points I have previous raised reasonable. As previously mentioned, I contracted your firm as I was impressed at the workmanship and high standards which to which your company prides itself on. The tagline of your company states “(tagline stating ethical practice)”. I feel like many of these qualities have been lacking in the service I have received. Nevertheless, I’m happy to allow you to rectify these issues to ensure we both meet our contractual obligations. Unfortunately, at this present juncture, your lack of communication and attempt at any reconciliation is making this impossible.
I have again taken some photographs of the front drive today and added some images which have also been sent previously. Please see attached images 1 – 21. In addition to what was previously stated in my previous emails, these again highlight some of the parts of the drive which have not been finished to an acceptable standard. I am very disappointed with how the drive has been left.
I received an email from xxxx (accounts manager) today stating she had been informed that the driveway was now completely finished and that she would like the final payment to be made. However, based on the attached images, and previously stated issues, I cannot see how anyone could see the driveway as a finished product. Would your company advertise the attached images on their website or leaflets showcasing “completely finished” work?
I also like to make you aware that all of these delays are causing me a great inconvenience and financial loss, as I am having to stay at home for days without knowing whether or not your workers will attend. I need these issues resolved urgently. In addition to the issues raised in my previous email, the rear patio work is incomplete. There are unacceptable gradient differences and there are roughly cut and poorly laid bricks. Quite frankly the work has not been completed with reasonable care and skill.
I would like the answers to the following questions:
1. When will the work to the rear patio be finished? I have requested a completion date previously but have not been provided one.
2. When will your workers will be returning to my property? For how long will they be attending and at what times can I expect them. It is utterly unreasonable to expect me to be waiting every day on the off chance that workers may arrive.
If you disagree with my points raised or you are unwilling to rectify the faults identified, then I am happy to proceed to dispute resolution. I would like you to confirm whether or not you are agreeable to this.
Furthermore, if you are unwilling to address or rectify the faults and issues I have raised, then I will be left with no choice but to commence legal proceedings.
Any help/advice would be really appreciated. I have the feeling this is going to court, and I'm reluctant at present to name the company as I feel it may harm my defence if they find this thread. They're making lots of lies and accusations which I have proof of and I don't want to give that away.
Below is the email which my friend helped me write. I'm unable to attach pictures, but I'll try again and hopefully get the images so you can see everything what I'm talking about. From the research I've done, I think I'm on good legal ground here. My problem is I know very little about building work and this is where this company has the advantage as I'm quite ignorant to a lot of the guidelines and specifications. Also, Im finding it hard to identify what is "acceptable" in terms of aesthetics and what is not.
I would assume that any work done would implicitly be done to an aesthetic standing. After all this is not internal brickwork to be hidden by plaster. However, this is not my area of expertise, so I don't want to set myself to fail if it goes to court. I would not like to go to court unless I have to, however I feel like this company will not rectify any issues and will keep trying to bully and intimidate me.
Dear Groundswork Director,
Following my previous email, please see below items which I feel need addressed. I hope this letter and attached photos eliminate any miscommunication. I’d also like to express that I have been quite upset by the aggressive manner in which your operatives have been talking to me and communicating with them has become untenable. I would from now on prefer to communicate with you directly.
Reference the attached image (image 1), a makeshift render has been applied to the end of the brick wall which was shortened by your team. What has been applied is not straight and is crumbling. It wasn’t brought to my attention and I wasn’t presented with any options as to how it could be finished. Your team made the decision for me, which wasn’t agreed under the contract.
here was a finished brick edge, and that was what I was expecting the final result to be, as they could have retained the bricks they removed. This now doesn’t match the rest of the street. It looks odd, out of place and is not finished to a suitable standard. A few neighbours and visitors have already commented. I would like this to please be rectified and finished to the same standard your team found it in.
I would also like to make you aware that the haunching your team constructed on the front driveway of my property is crumbling away (please see the below images and attached image 2 & 3). I am concerned that this will continue to crumble over time and due to no edge restraint, the border will come loose and break away from the red insert paving. After a quick search of Tobermore literature, I have found the following:
As I have not elected to install kerbing, your team have cast the border block into a haunched concrete detail. The mix used isn’t fit for purpose as it shouldn’t be crumbling the way it is, it should be restraining the paving.
Please refer to the attached and below image 4 & 5. The channel drain running perpendicular to the property is not straight. The intersection between both drains is not flush. The Lord installed downpipe is not aligned with the drain and will result in water pooling. I would have expected the downpipe and the draining to be finished to an aesthetically pleasing standard. Additionally, as I contracted you to repair my porch and roof, I would have expected it to have all to have connected in an aesthetically pleasing and functional manner. If the water is missing the channel drain and pooling, then it is neither aesthetically pleasing, or fit for purpose.
Upon further inspection of the driveway, I have noticed some inconsistencies with the paving. If you refer to image 6 below, the joints align correctly. However, with large portions of the paving, the joints begin to creep and become misaligned. I also cannot understand why cut pieces of paving are at the most focal areas of the driveway (i.e porch and entrance to the house, images 12 and 7 respectively).
Surely the paving could have been commenced at the focal points, working away from there, leaving the cuts in a less focal area. A block paved driveway is not only something that is suitable for imposed vehicle loads, but serves as an architectural feature - it’s the first thing visitors see when they come to your house. From the literature and pictures on your website, I was expecting a higher quality of finish than what I have received. Please see attached Images 8 to 12.
I have also noticed similar issues with the rear paving, as with the front driveway. The main concerns I have are that there are cut pieces of block paving in areas where a full block could have been placed for a better visual effect. In particular the first row of red pavers as you exit my property has a row of roughly sawn pavers which could have been a full brick and much more aesthetically pleasing. Not to mention the additional Labour, time and unnecessary H&S risks that would have been involved in all these cuts!
Please see the attached image (image 12) of the pointing work and how it has been left. Please can you confirm that this will be cleaned up and that the pointing will be complete to an appropriate standard? It is very bad practice to get mortar all over the face of brickwork. This should have been cleaned immediately and before it sets.
I cannot see any reason why full bricks could not have been used hard up against my property, and the paving worked outwards from there as there is no requirement to “tie in” to anything on the grass. Please refer to attached and above images 13 to 15.
I hope we can reach a speedy solution to the issues I have identified. I would like to stress that I have been happy with many aspects of the work provided. The roofing and porch work have been completed to a high standard - I am extremely happy with the quality of the finish. When comparing the level of service and quality I have received previously, I was surprised and disappointed with some aspects of the work which I have mentioned above.
I am grateful for you re-pointing my bay window as a goodwill gesture. Whilst I have raised a number of issues, I am happy to let this go as it is something which I could rectify myself and I wish to focus this email on the issues I can’t accept. I contracted your company based on your reviews and initial communication I received, I was confident that I would receive a professional, efficient and reliable service. I would love to be able to leave positive reviews and recommend you to my friends and family after the successful completion of the work.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.