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New conservatory problem

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Hi,

 

I contracted a small company to take down my old conservatory and build new one. He came with good references for his previous work.

 

The work consisted of remove old conservatory - supply new conservatory, plaster the walls, supply and install new kitchen window and window board and take away all rubbish. The terms of the contract was payment in full at the completion when customer happy (me) and no deposit required - even though I offered.

 

The conservatory appears mainly completed, but no guttering has been put up over the conservatory and as it is raining at the moment, water and debris from the house roof is pouring onto my new glass conservatory roof.

 

As there is only one gutter at the front of the conservatory that is not connected to downspout and has no stop on the end so water is pouring off the roof onto patio a bit like a waterfall. There are sections that require sealing.

 

He has removed guttering from my kitchen extension, the wall of which is one side of the conservatory, so no water is going down into the downspout - which is disconnected anyway.

 

The plasterboards have gone onto day, but requires skimming etc.

 

The new kitchen window is installed, but not sealed, nor no window board installed

 

My new patio that I had installed is now full of plaster etc which is not washing off although they have tried.

 

Before he left, he said he now wants paying tomorrow as he considered the conservatory to be finished and does NOT require guttering on the main house roof,  and not even where there is a waterfall, and the roofing felt under the tiles is blowing in the wind. Not only that, but because I opted for a clear, blue glass roof, all I can see is ugly roofing felt. I don't think this is right.

 

So, water is now just pouring onto conservatory roof from main house roof and the extension with no where to go other than a waterfall. I questioned this before he left and he said it is okay.

 

I don't know where I stand in refusing to pay him until all the work is complete and I am happy. Please bear in mind that I am a widow in my 70's, disabled with MS and just come out of hospital two weeks ago after a heart attack.

 

There are three of them and only me and quite frankly I am scared and I now feel he is taking advantage of my position.

 

What do I do? I would like someone to come and check the work - especially the guttering situation but I don't want to get into an argument and feel forced to pay him.

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You haven't told us what price was agreed for the work.

I should start taking photographs of everything and I'm afraid I think that you are going to have to get somebody in to inspect it very quickly.

Do you have the names and addresses of these builders? You don't need to publish them here that simply tell us if you know who they are, where they live, are they part of a firm. How did you contact them? Although they apparently have good references, did you check out the references with the people who wrote them?

I think you need to make a detailed written list of the problems that you see with the job – but most importantly you need to get somebody around very quickly to inspect it and to give you their own written assessment and see how much of that assessment coincides with the problems that you have identified on your list.


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Not sure that price is relevant.

 

I had 4 quotes for the work. One higher, one lower and two the same in the middle. He was in the middle. I went with him as I felt more comfortable in his presence.

 

It is only a small conservatory, 3 X 3 square mts. Consists of only two sides as the other two sides are the main bungalow back wall and the side wall of the extension. No base needed either as using the existing base and brickwork. £6,000

 

I got him through Mybuilder who I use for all my projects with no problem. He has two references with him who checked out, but smaller jobs.

 

He has been in the business for 33 years and states he is Fensa registered. I have checked online and neither his name or company come up as being Fensa registered. Yes I should have checked before.

 

I do have his card with name and address on it.

 

Although conservatories do not require building control/regs, is this something I could ask building control to check for me?

 

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Have you started to take any of the other action I suggested in my post?

I'm afraid I'm not able to answer whether building control can check it for you. I suggest that you get on the telephone to them this morning and find out for yourself. Maybe you could let us know. However, they may not be able to come out straightaway.

What concerns me here is that you are frightened of these men – but I'm not too sure why. But it will certainly help you to act as reasonably and as diplomatically as possible.

If you haven't put together the snagging list I have suggested then I think you should do this immediately.

You say that they are arriving today. You should have the snagging list prepared and you should give him a copy. I would suggest also that you make a part payment. You say that the amount of money agreed is not relevant but actually it is extremely relevant. Had it been a few hundred quid then a part payment would not have made much difference. However £6000 is a fair chunk of cash and my suggestion would be that you would pay him £3000 but then remind him that the deal was that the bill would be settled once you are happy.

I suppose that you didn't put any of this in writing – and that was a mistake. I would start off the snagging list with a preamble reminding him of the terms of the deal – which included that full settlement would be made once the work was considered to be complete and that you were satisfied.

You should then say that in particular you are concerned about the quality of the guttering and also that fact that the guttering doesn't appear to be finished and that there is water falling down onto the ground near your property and that you expect that this will eventually lead to a damp problem within the property. I think this is a very serious issue.

Include the rest the snagging list.

As I have said, give him this in writing – but keep a copy for yourself.

Record on the snagging list that you are making him a down-payment as a matter of goodwill of £3000 to represent in part the work that has been completed so far but calling his attention to the final agreement which was that the work would be complete and that you will be satisfied before full payment was made.

You then need to get him to agree to carry out the remaining works and you need a time by which this will be complete. I'm sure that you will come under pressure to pay more but I think it is very important for you that you show that you are able to resist any further pressure and so I would make it clear that you will not pay anything more and that you are intending to get the work inspected.  Therefore you should refuse anymore - don't give ground

Although it's too late, this is something else that you should recorded in writing that the work would be considered complete once you are satisfied and this will be subject to a final report from an independent source.

I would also telephone FENSA and check to see whether this firm really is a member of them as they claimed and if their name has simply been missed off their website.

If FENSA confirm that they are not members then I would also put this down at the top of the snagging list that you were disappointed that despite their claims to be members of this organisation – it transpires that they're not and that you feel let down. If the builders realise that you have made these enquiries and that they have been rumbled on this point, this will make them less confident of themselves.

Once again you should get this going straightaway.

Start arranging an independent inspection. At the same time you might want to see if you can get a quote for completing the job to your satisfaction. You would do this by getting somebody to have a look and if they confirmed that the guttering and other matters are still outstanding then they should give you a quote for completing those bits of work which they consider to be substandard or unfinished. This will give you an idea eventually of how much you would be entitled to withhold from the builders if push comes to shove.

You didn't make any comment on the points I raised in my previous post which I made about 12 hours ago – post number two. Maybe you would comment now on whether you consider the approach I am suggesting is an appropriate approach and if you have any other questions.

I suggest you don't hang around


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Also, just to add – when they come round, I suggest that you record the conversation. You can install a voice recording app onto your mobile phone – whether it is an android or an Apple and you can activate it just as they call and have the phone next to you. Don't tell them that you are recording.

Install the app and practice using it so that you are confident and then don't forget to activate it the moment that they arrive at your front door.

At the very least this should help to give you some confidence and also if any thing happens which concerns you, then at least you have it recorded. You can then come back and tell us about it and we can consider what further action you should take.

 


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Sorry, I thought I had responded to your post of last evening.

 

I have put together a snagging list...further to my post I now realise that they have also covered over my air bricks in the conservatory so there is no air brick to the extension and none to the main building at the rear of the property.

 

I have taken photographs as suggested.

 

I will call FENSA this morning to verify if in fact they are registered. If they are not, then Building Control has to be notified about the new double glazed window as I will need a certificate from them - which will cost me.

 

In regard to the guttering, there currently is no guttering to my extension - as he has removed it, and none to the conservatory He said none is required, so it appears that he thinks the conservatory roof can act as the guttering.

 

I did consider paying them about £4000 in part payment. After looking at the roof, where he said he would put a new down spout on and has now changed his mind, I can see why as there appears to be no room to put guttering back on the roof.

 

Now in regard to the interim payment: I am worried that once I get the job checked and told that there must be guttering, this will possibly mean that the whole conservatory roof has to come off and the main structure adjusted or in fact come down and be rebuilt. The remaining 2 or 3 thousand pounds may not cover this.

 

I am also going to the hospital before they arrive - 12 noon, and don't expect to be back before they leave 3.15. 

 

Would you suggest leaving the snagging list or will this inflame him?

 

thanks

 

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I'm very worried that you seem to be frightened of taking reasonable steps with a company which holds itself out as being professional. A snagging list is entirely reasonable – and if you hold back from providing one because you are worried about inflaming them then I think you are lost.

Do you have pictures of the old conservatory and did it have guttering?

I think that sealing up the air bricks is quite serious. Do you know if the conservatory has any damp proofing? Did they use the original foundations? If they didn't use the original foundations then there might be an issue as to whether or not a damp proof course or membrane was installed. Even if they did use the original foundations, if there was a damp proof course already there, was it sound or did it need replacing?

You say that you have considered paying them £4000. It sounds like a lot to me and I would hold fire at £3000 or even £2500 until you get it inspected.

Phone FENSA immediately and come back here and tell us what the situation is. If it turns out that they have told you porkies on this then you are in a very strong position. Did you say that they have published on the Internet that they are members of FENSA? If so then take a screenshot so that you have got clear evidence of this. Make sure you get a complete paper trail of everything that is happening.

I now understand that you are going to hospital but in fact the builders will be there in your absence. Not only that, you are unlikely to see them either at the beginning or at the end of their visit. What was the arrangement to pay them?

Frankly in view of the situation I would think about preventing them from entering at all.


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You misunderstand. I am not frightened of giving them a snagging list and discussing it with them. I was worried about leaving it for them to read when I wasn't at home.

 

They kept a set of keys to the conservatory so I cannot prevent them entering whilst I am away. They cannot get into the main house.

 

The old conservatory had guttering as the existing downspouts are still in position although not connected to anything.

 

The conservatory had damp proofing which was in good condition.

 

I have a screen shot of their claim to be FENSA registered. I will come back later and give you the result of my conversation with FENSA  but I have to leave now.

 

I am going to call on my neighbour as I leave to watch for their arrival and departure. Cannot miss them, Van is massive.

 

Thanks for your help so far.

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You haven't answered my question about what was the arrangement to pay them?


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Hi again, 

 

Just got back from the hospital and apparently the guy was here only for half an hour or so. Not skimmed the walls but received a text requesting payment for the work - unfinished by this evening and then he will come back and finish the work!

 

You asked what the arrangements were for payment. As stated originally, the arrangements were payment in full upon completion and customer satisfied with the job.

 

I have rang FENSA and he is not registered.

 

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You have misunderstood my question about payment arrangement. What I meant was what was the arrangement for giving him the payment today? Was it cash in hand? You were away at hospital so how were you meant to get the payment to him?


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Oh I see. The arrangement from the beginning was to pay via bank transfer.

 

He also said he would have all the work completed today - plaster skim the walls and finish the window etc. The window is in position but not sealed in either side and also requires plaster skimming to the damaged plaster when he took the window out.

 

I have come home to find an invoice which is incorrect as he priced the window separately from the conservatory but has added that cost on twice.

 

FENSA requested that I contact him for his registration number..this should be somewhat amusing as not only if FENSA registered he is required to give me a certificate of compliance but also an insurance backed guarantee.

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Okay, thank you. I have to make a decision as to how to proceed and what to say and write to him by this evening, and I want to get it right. I don't want to sound like I am making excuses not to pay him either, if you know what I mean.

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Okay I think you should certainly write to him, have you prepared the snagging list?

Can we see it here please?

I think if you of the fact that they are not members of FENSA, I think for the moment you should not pay them anything until the matter is completely sorted out.

Once we see the snagging list then I will suggest a form of words which you can use or amend to your liking. I certainly agree that you shouldn't give any indication that you are intending not to pay and in fact I think your letter should make this clear and say that you are fully intending to pay but only when the matters are addressed.

Also I think that in view of the fact that they are not members of FENSA when they claimed they were, I think that you should make it clear that their membership of FENSA influenced your decision to go with them and because you have now discovered that not only are they not a member of a professional organisation, that they effectively misled you, you believe that you will need to have the work inspected by an independent party before signing it off.

I think you should also refer to the guttering and point out to them that they are fully aware of the guttering and the routing of that guttering on your existing/old conservatory and you certainly expected the new conservatory to follow that pattern so that all water was correctly drained away. I think you should say to them that you don't understand why this is not been done and why they believe that it is complete.

I also think that you should say to them that until you have a written agreement as to the way to go forward, you do not wish them to enter your property or the conservatory again.

However, please let us have the snagging list first and then we will go forward.

 


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Snagging list:

 

1: Not plastered.

 

2: New window fitting not complete as not sealed either side and remedial plasterwork to inside kitchen.

 

3: No guttering above conservatory to take rainwater from roof.

 

4: No new downspout in situ - as promised - to take water from the guttering not fitted.

 

5: Floor not levelled as promised.

 

6: Some of the internal facia boards not cut straight - wobbly cut with bits missing.

 

7: Some of the facia have gaps and not sealed.

 

8: Patio and driveway filthy and stained -will not wash away, needs power washing and then re sanding or grouting.

 

9: Rubble remains when promised would remove today.

 

10: Part of gutter from original extension removed and not replaced.

 

I might just have to go over it to make sure I have not missed anything.

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Okay, well that sounds like a fairly serious list of defects.

Have you considered the suggestion that I have made about writing them a letter. I would suggest that you include the snagging list and make it clear that this was not an exhaustive list and it would be subject to revision later on – possibly upon inspection.

I think if you made it clear that their claim to be members of FENSA is a serious matter and also if you make it clear that you are not intending to avoid payment that you are simply intending to make sure that everything is put right and that the job is complete and subject to inspection, then I think this is a very reasonable position for you to take.

You said that you are frightened of them but I think that the FENSA deception should effectively make them very careful of you


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I am definitely going to write a letter. Would it be acceptable to attach to an email for speed?

 

I take all your points in writing the letter -thank you.

 

Should I text him to request his FENSA registration number? To be honest, if he was registered he should have left a certificate and Insurance backed guarantee with the invoice.

 

I have had windows replaced before, twice - no this property, and both times I got a Fensa certificate and guarantee certificate with the invoice.

 

I would like to give him a chance in case even Fensa have made an error, though they say not. They say if he is registered he should be able to give me his reg number.

 

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Yes, text him to request the FENSA registration number. I think that this should put a very nice subtle shot across his bows.

 

I think email is fine but I would confirm it in a first class recorded delivery letter.

You should be careful about insurance backed guarantees. We have had builders on this forum who apparently have claim to have lifetime guarantees – but people have learnt to their cost that this means only for the lifetime of the company. As soon as the company folds, the guarantee evaporates. Also, we have had people commission work which was apparently insurance backed. However – in exactly the same way that you didn't bother to check the FENSA registration, people never bother to ask to see the insurance certificate or to phone the insurer to see if the insurance is really in place and will cover the work which has been carried out. It is only when the company folds that they discover that the lifetime guarantee has folded and that the insurance cover either never existed or else it didn't cover the particular circumstances of the building project.

I'm afraid that you have to check and check again.


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Right I am going to do that - text him which should make him sit up and think.

 

As a member of Fensa, members are required to give an insurance backed guarantee. As you say it may well not be genuine in some cases, but I think I have learned my lesson, like everyone that gets caught out, too late.

 

On the website I got his details from there is a section where people can ask questions and advice from ' professional' tradespeople.

 

There was a question asked and answered by this guy regarding Fensa. I have managed to print his answer along with his profile stating he is a member. His answer goes as follows:

 

"Fensa is needed for new windows, It was set up to stop a lot of cowboys miss fitting windows and then doing nothing about it. It is also passed on when you sell up so the new owners are covered for things going wrong and then you. as the customer, do not have to pay for this. This is peace of mind when buying new windows"

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Okay in that case asking for his FENSA registration number, the name of the insurer and a copy of the insurance certificate.

I'm a bit worried about the answer you discovered. Izzy simply giving his opinion about FENSA or is he definitely claiming that he is a registered member? On the basis of what you have said here, he could simply say that he was advocating the benefits of FENSA membership but without claiming to have membership for himself. Please will you clarify


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I also forgot to put on the snagging list that the air bricks have been covered over.

 

I am hopping mad at the moment as it is raining heavily and as there is no guttering the rain is dripping down the wall and landing on the bottom trim of the conservatory with a constant and rapid  loud 'bang, bang, bang' this is outside my bedroom window.

 

Just been out to check and come back in to see a missed call from this guy and at one minute intervals calls from 3 other unknown numbers. I can only assume as I didn't hear and answer his call, that he has got other people to ring for him.

 

He is giving the benefit of his experience regarding Fensa in the question and answer section.

 

In his profile advert looking for work it states: " We fit all aspects of upvc windows, conservatories, fascias, soffits, gutters and have been fitting for 36 years and have now level 3 NVQ and are FENSA REGISTERED"

 

Just had a text from him saying he will get FENSA to come to my house to check the installation. This does not happen. He clearly is not registered and according to CAB - don't hold them particularly in high esteem, say that to claim to be FENSA registered when they are not is 'breach of contract'.

 

He is demanding money by the morning.

 

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Well I certainly wouldn't start to get worked up about "demands".

I suggest that you send the email that has been suggested – followed up with a recorded delivery letter and also I suggest that you telling that you are not happy that he enters onto your property until the entire matter is settled in writing.


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If I were you I would try to take a video on your phone of the rain and what it is doing and where it is falling. Check the video and make sure that it is good quality.

 

If he starts to cause trouble then I would suggest that you tell him that you will be contacting FENSA by the telephone and telling them that you have a man who has misrepresented himself as one of their members and you need legal help from them.

In fact you could even say that to him in your letter

I think we are getting close to the time when you need to tell us what company you are dealing with


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When I missed his call I was outside videoing the problem and then inside recording the noise it was making.

 

I am not so worried about his demands now - unless he comes around getting verbal etc.

 

 

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What is the name of the Firm you are dealing with please? I think it is important to start getting a little bit of of transparency on this because if push comes to shove, he would rather that the name of his firm is not Known


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