Log in

The Kitchen of Great Lamentation - the Erudite Baboon [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ website | Beaver and Steve ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

The Kitchen of Great Lamentation [Oct. 28th, 2010|03:20 pm]
[Tags|, , , ]

I hate to post a blog post with no comics in it, especially since it's been so long since I posted anything at all, but I am in dire need of the sage advice of the wisest entity there is: THE INTERNET*.

For the last month we have been getting our kitchen done (yes, folks, not only does this post contain no comics, it's also about the fascintaing subject of home improvement! Woo!), although actually mostly it has not been getting done because we found a giant hole in the wall that was hidden above the ceiling, and... well, that's another story, but to summarise work is supposed to begin again on monday, big sigh of relief, panic over, the kitchen is going to be brand new and beautiful in time for Christmas. Yay! Except ... this morning our builder comes in and tells us that when he knocked £1000 off the quote (in order to beat the other builder who was quoting for the job) he was actually knocking it off the materials, not the labour. So it looks like he's now telling us he was lowering his bid by offering to use cheaper stuff to build our kitchen - which doesn't really seem like much of a discount to me. And it gets better (i.e worse): when we tried to talk to him about this he suddenly stands up, says we can take it or leave it, and literally storms out of our house, jumps in his van and drives off!

Now to be honest, £1000 isn't an insurmountable obstacle - if he can't do it for the price he quoted us without using cheap materials then it's not the end of the world, and it's probably still worth getting him to do the rest of the job rather than try to find a whole new builder to finish off the work. The real problem is that he's flown off the handle, apparently just because we've misunderstood the discount that he was giving us (though to be honest I think he's actually just realised that his original quote is too low and is now trying to get out of it - why else has he waited 2 months after offering the discount to tell us that we misunderstood it?), and now we're worried that he's going to flip out again if there are any problems in future. So - what do we do?

He did calm down enough to send me a text saying that we can make a decision by the end of the day - this is the reply that I have composed so far:

Hi [insert name of moody builder here],

We're just a bit concerned that you keep losing your temper - I can understand that you say we've misunderstood the call we had with you, but what I can't understand is why you became so angry with us for what was an innocent mistake, and threatened to abandon the job. We genuinely believed that the reduction in cost would come from labour, and if we've made a mistake you need to explain it to us and give us a chance to take that information on board, not shout at us and walk out. And if you thought that we had misunderstood your call why did you wait until now, 2 months after the call, to tell us about it? If there is a misunderstanding in the estimate we need to know about it as soon as possible.

We are still interested in you continuing the work, and we would prefer if you do not make cuts to the quality of the materials you are going to use, even if that means that we don't get the full £1000 reduction that you offered us originally. However we won't feel comfortable with you continuing the work if you are always going to lose your temper when we misunderstand something. If you feel like we can continue to work together, then please let me know, and if not then please let us know the cost of the work and materials so far.



That's not going to throw anyone into any uncontrollable fits of rage is it? It's firm but fair, right? Or am I being too soft - if he's flipping out now when work has hardly begun, would I be better off being rid of him now and once again beginning my search for that near-extinct creature, the reliable builder? I beseech you, oh wise and benevolent internet, hear my plea for help and grant me an answer.

To hasten you to our assistance, here is a picture of the current pathetic state of my 'kitchen':

And since this picture was taken the sink has also been removed - pity me, a lost soul forced to wash his dishes in the bath! The ignominy!

So there you have it - my information gullet is wide open, quivering in anticipation of the knowledge nuggets that you are about to cram into it.

EDIT: I should also probably mention, he lives on my road, so we can't be too nasty to each other!

* also the stupidest entity there is, but I'll take whatever help I can get

From: ext_209127
2010-10-28 02:39 pm (UTC)
The real world sounds terrifying. I know some Irish builders who operate in the New Malden area, an was a labourer for one of them in 1008, but that probably isn't much help.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: ext_209127
2010-10-28 02:45 pm (UTC)
That's right, I'm over 1,000 years old.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: eruditebaboon
2010-10-28 03:01 pm (UTC)
I guess even the immortal have to earn a wage.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tozocomic
2010-10-28 03:06 pm (UTC)
"...if he's flipping out now when work has hardly begun, would I be better off being rid of him now..?"
Yes - it's not a good sign and if he thinks he can get his own way by behaving badly he might try it again (child psychology!). You shouldn't employ people you have little confidence in and it's not like you're actually saving any money by employing him, as you originally thought.

You might not get your kitchen before Xmas, however...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: eruditebaboon
2010-10-28 04:08 pm (UTC)
I don't think I'd even be considering keeping him on if it wasn't for the fact that I don't want to spend the next two months doing my washing up in the bath.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tozocomic
2010-10-28 04:23 pm (UTC)
Best of luck, whatever you decide!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: joedecie
2010-10-28 03:09 pm (UTC)
Getting a new builder may be a pain as they tend to not like to finish others work.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mydclife
2010-10-28 03:18 pm (UTC)
well, did you sign an actual contract with him? If not I would start calling around to the other contractors to see if you could get them to come and do the work, because he seems like the kind that will be all pissy* and probably do shitty* work in retaliation for making him mad. Also, I know this is after the fact, but did you check his references? My dad is a contractor here in the states and he would constantly be fixing the problems of a lower bidder until people started getting references...

*excuse my americanisms
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: eruditebaboon
2010-10-28 03:40 pm (UTC)
I did get references, and the guy actually lives on my road, which is why I'm surprised he's suddenly giving us this trouble - we're going to be seeing a lot of each other in future, so if this ends badly it could get awkward. We're certainly thinking about looking at other builders, but dreading facing many more weeks without a kitchen!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: undyingking
2010-10-28 05:47 pm (UTC)
If it was me, just one episode of irrational fury would be enough to ditch him. Unless he has a very good excuse, like his pet mongoose having just caught scabies or something, and is unpromptedly and genuinely apologetic.

There are some jobs where it doesn't really matter if the person doing them for you has unpredictable hypersensitivity and rage issues, but I think building -- like haircutting -- falls into the other category.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sallythetimid
2010-10-28 06:43 pm (UTC)
The sentences: "However we won't feel comfortable with you continuing the work if you are always going to lose your temper when we misunderstand something. If you feel like we can continue to work together, then please let me know, and if not then please let us know the cost of the work and materials so far."
seem...well, provocatory and like he'd be unlikely to come back and work for y ou even if you offered an extra 1500. Perhaps more: "We hope that further confrontations can be avoided in the future. We are, however, thoroughly likely to misunderstand things from time to time, and would appreciate your patience with us during those times. While this matter of money is really nothing to sneeze at, we felt your actions may have been overboard, and would not be able to continue a working relationship if this is your standard reaction to clients' ignorance. As much as we would we regret losing your experience and the time spent on the project so far if you would prefer to end things as they stand now please let us know the cost of work and materials so that we can settle the balance. " Something like that?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sallythetimid
2010-10-28 06:44 pm (UTC)
Except minus run-on sentence
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2010-10-28 07:55 pm (UTC)


he is a contractor. you can be as firm as you want with him because till he gets the work done and you pay him you are HIS boss
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zonemind
2010-10-29 05:48 am (UTC)
My family has made its nut in property, mostly residential. Here is my advice, as someone with some experience on the topic:

Find a new builder.

If your local contractor licensing board is the sort that polices its membership, report on the basis of deceptive bidding. "The estimate didn't include labour" is bull.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2010-10-29 08:21 am (UTC)
Hello. Susan here. Um... I'm in two minds. One: my gut says to end things now in case things get really buggered up when he's even more fully on the job, but Two: that might be a bit hasty.

You know we installed our kitchen in Hither Green ourselves from Ikea, right? It is possible to do it yourself and just get a joiner in to fit the work surfaces (if wooden) and get a plumber in to do those bits. That might be a back up plan if you can't find anyone to do it.

I'm also not liking his "you have til the end of the day to decide" deadline. More bullying tactics as he knows full well you won't get someone in to take over the job in a day.

I think you should end things with him now, but you need to decide how hasty that is...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zhaf_razhid
2010-11-01 02:17 pm (UTC)
Yep, he is playing hardball trying to strong-arm you into making a decision without really questioning him. And probably because once you start to look into it more, you'll find more things that disturb you.

Yes, you might see him around a lot in the future, but in terms of total hours, I assume you're going to spend more overall time in your home than you will running into him in the neighborhood.

My advice is go slow and do it right. Unless you're a secret millionaire AND a masochist, I am pretty sure you don't want to have to do this again four months after the work is "done." You wouldn't want to have to send the speedboat warlock after him. (Added bonus, he may not even have worries about seeing you often in the future if he bullies you, cheats you, and acts like a total jerk.)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2010-11-01 02:01 pm (UTC)

Ditch him, hire someone else.

I've had great success with mybuilder.com. I'd highly recommend popping on there and checking it out. You post job with details and then multiple builders will reply with quotes and you can pick and choose.

I wouldn't deal with anyone who's decided to have a hissy fit because they've made an error in judgement over their costs. If you want to let him down easy just say you've got a family member who's said they can finish the job. Can't argue with that.
(Reply) (Thread)