STAIRS Architect Paul Testa completely redesigned the ground floor to create a ‘front-to-back’ link that draws natural light through the house from both storeys


and Mark would have to wait months before they could start. The second builder was able to keep within budget, providing Mark changed his choice of wooden framed windows for PVCu. They could also start within a couple of weeks. “The fact that they could start so quickly should have rung warning bells, but hindsight is a wonderful thing,” says Mark. However, at first they got on with the job very efficiently, starting in July with the promise of finishing by Christmas.

Mark moved into rented accommodation nearby while the builders started to dismantle the bungalow, removing the roof and most of the internal walls to the point where it was just a single storey bare shell. The new roof was a key element of the

rebuild, comprising a new dormer roof featuring zinc cladding and a replacement pitched roof section featuring Marley Modern roof tiles. “Everything seemed to be going well and the builders were at the point where the roof was not quite finished and partially covered in tarpaulin, when everything suddenly ground to a halt,” says Mark. “It was November, and they had been called away to another job. Until this point they had rushed through the renovation – sometimes too quickly as it turns out – and then everything became painfully slow.” There was a justified delay when the original design for the MVHR system needed adjusting which, in turn, delayed the build. Then the company supplying the bathroom tiles went bankrupt, and a replacement had to be found. However, although the builder’s contract ended


at the start of January, the work ran on and on, as the builders finished jobs in a piecemeal fashion. When they were signed off in May – in Mark’s view prematurely – some work had not been completed, such as the MVHR system, and there was still a long list of snagging to resolve. “It was a nightmare,” says Mark. “Just one example, there were endless broken roof tiles and the edge was not mechanically sound, symptomatic of the poor finish that was found in many places. The builders then tried to charge me for storage of the kitchen, which had arrived on time but they still hadn’t managed to install, even though the delays were largely down to their own lack of organisation and attention to detail. Someone had to come back seven times to finish the guttering and they never did complete the porch – I had to sort that out later. The lack of attention to detail was dreadful. It reached the point where relations just broke down completely. We finally came to an agreement and drew a line under everything before we ended up in the small claims court.” By August 2019 Mark started decorating and moved back in so he could finish the remaining issues himself. These included resealing the shower, which leaked, sorting a crack in the garage roof and finally completing the porch. “The whole experience left me feeling emotionally and physically drained,” says Mark. “The money I saved on the windows was re- spent trying to rectify mistakes and by the time the build was finished I was £5,000 over budget and the project had taken more than twice as long as it should have done.” The positive news

“Drawing a line under the building works, taking control of the final jobs, and finally being able to enjoy the house as our home. I would also include sitting upstairs, being warm and comfortable, looking out at driving snow coming in across the beautiful scenery.”

may/june 2021

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