Sunday, 13 March 2016

My Cowboy Builder!

A builder came to do our house refurbishment. I found them from Rated People.

I would purposely avoid naming their nationality or the trade name. Because not naming them may help you be more careful with everyone not just that nationality and trade.

I wrote the spec as detailed as I could and got him to sign it with the agreed price of around £10k labor to build an ensuite, new bathroom, new kitchen, disposal, flooring, skirting boards, safety certificates, etc.

Very quick start in the first week destroying everything, removing cabinets, old bathroom, very impressed!

Second week, worked very well.

Third week, turned up only over the weekend and maybe 2 hours a day!

4th week, didn't turn up much. He seems to have gotten another project.

5th week, slow progress. I complained about slow progress and set £500 bonus if he finishes on the 8th week and set a penalty of £150 per day for late finishes after the 8th week. It didn't motivate him...he seems to have other higher paid projects and doesn't keep his promises!

6th week, slow progress again but also demanded more money. I've paid him almost £7.5k so far but 60% of the job done only!

Problems with the builder:
  • He started very good in the first 2 weeks then slowed down.
  • Not honest and keep making empty promises on when the job is going to finish.
  • Agrees with something then denies. For example, he agreed to paint our external wall then said no I won't do it.
  • Not punctual.
  • He promised to finish the job this week. Lied, only 60% of job is done.
  • He said 90% of job is done. He lied, only 60% of job is done according to the spec.
  • He said if I had worked for Aldi I would have earned much more than what you're paying me! I said I'm paying you £10k labour for God's sake! Basically he's trying to see whether he can get more money out of us!
  • He said I won't do building works again, not profitable! Again trying to see whether he can get more money out of us!
  • He's late on every promise and keeps lying on deadlines.
  • He had promised he would paint outside the house including in the price. Today said, no I wont' do it.
  • He had promised he would pay for the cost of the glass replacement in the porch. Today said, no I won't do it.
  • He damaged our grippers, underlays, lost lights and lamps and broke our manhole lid costing me around £500. He said he will fix all these when damaged. Today he implied he won't fix those.
  • He did some extra work for me and said it's free when he did them. After a week, he started nagging that I did those extra bits for nothing, he said he made a mistake and he shouldn't have done that basically manipulating and trying to get more money... I said OK I'm fair I increase your wage by around £400 for the extra works you have done...
  • He started asking about my salary! I said salary of each person is personal, why do you ask! What was his intention? To see how much more he can get out of us! evil! 
  • He started nagging everyday that you're paying me peanuts and demanded more money. I told him that we had an agreement and nothing changed. He said I don't care about our agreement, I want more money or I walk away.
Range of tricks he used trying to get more money and earlier:
  • to be continued
His personality:
  • Cheating
  • Lying
  • Betraying
  • Promising to finish the job early. Just lying to get the payments earlier.
  • Unreliable on time management.
  • Deceitful & manipulative; trying to get more money than was originally agreed with every trick possible.
  • Denying agreed works
What are my options?
  • Intimidating him; not in my personality yet! I have so much self-control and hardly ever get angry and he can walk away anyhow. But intimidation is a skill that I'd need to learn - not to use against anyone but to defend against those who use it!
  • Manipulating him; not in my personality yet! I'm too honest and frank but something that probably works with such people. A skill to be learnt but to be used solely against those who are manipulative themselves!
  • Sacking him! Risking him to criminally damage the property. Oh yes, Police is often useless in the UK to prevent any criminal activity and can't recover any damage whatsoever when done. Legal system in the UK is stupidly expensive that you must forget about any money any individual owes you. Money paid is a money gone! Also cost of finding a new builder who doesn't know what works are done and with what quality.
  • Paying him a bit extra. It feels awful to give in to his manipulations and tricks but they know you're in a weak position when it's the middle of the work.
  • Setting bonus for early finish and penalty for late finish. I did that but didn't work, not motivated. He probably has other higher paid works and doesn't care about what he promises or agrees to.
My decision:
Not sure yet but I know that the only power we have over such builders is money; not morale, promises, written agreements, etc.

My Tips:

  • Never trust any words or promises. Write down spec and get signed written agreements. At start and in the middle at least 2 times because things can change.
  • Be fair. If genuinely more works added, you must pay them extra.
  • Be prepared that most builders can and will walk away at any time they feel they can't or they don't want to deliver what they promised so control the payment on result only not by time. I made a mistake to tell them I pay you on a weekly basis for a certain part of the project that took about 6 weeks whereas I should have set stages of completion for payments.
  • Assume every promise made is a lie unless proven and observed that it was not then you will control the payments more wisely.
  • Go on site every day and check every stage of the works if you can and ask questions.

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