Friday, 1 October 2010

Practical completion

We achieved Practical Completion last Monday ... only 3 weeks after moving in ...

During those three weeks I have had builders, of one description or another, in the house every day of the week (except Sunday: ah, the day of rest...) Practical Completion is a technical - possibly legal - term for the end of the first phase of our contract with the builders. Now the building is complete and habitable, all the jobs done and simply a minor snagging list left to do.

Logically (of course) since reaching it I have continued to have builders in every day of the week...

Outside, diggers and dumper trucks were hired to level the front garden and bring some sort of normality to the side path. In the process they have ruined the back garden, but it is hard to get too cross about it as it was always muddy and squelchy. It would be better if I didn't need wellies to hang out the washing but I guess you can't have everything!

Inside the plumbers have been busy. Or, more often, the handyman has been busy fixing the plumber's problems. The boiler/solar panel suppliers managed to flood the airing cupboard with glycol, which leaked into the toilet below. Despite everything, the relevant pipe has leaked in two places ever since: I think it got fixed a couple of days ago, but I must check! Two leaks were found under the sink in the utility, a leak behind the downstairs toilet, a leak in our en suite basin and (best of all) a leak behind our en suite toilet. That leaked down into the family room below ... another brown smudge on the pristine white walls. It was fixed late on a Thursday with 24 hours for the seal to dry. Of course, no builders are prepared to work after 4pm on a Friday so an entire weekend without the en suite (and without the kids bathroom, as that drained into the same place) followed.  Oh ... and then they didn't actually send anyone to fix it back properly until the following Wednesday: nearly a week on.

Don't think I'd recommend the plumbers.

Joiners were around for the first couple of weeks, dodging the decorator who didn't want sawdust flying around near his newly glossed doors and floors. We are still waiting on the door handles (that we could have ordered and got within 2-3 weeks but the builders said they would get ... now we are 5 weeks and counting!) The electrician finally got around to putting light bulbs in the fixings last week. He still refuses to put up the lights we bought for our en suite as he claims they are not suitable for Zone 1. That is very irritating: he does have the final say, but all the regulations are ambiguous, and as we have to have our electrics signed off it means another £150 or more to replace lights we've already bought. Grrrr...

Don't think I'd recommend the electricians either.

Yesterday the guttering was finally completed. The entire render on one wall had to be re-done, it was so poor, which delayed fixing the gutters on top. I believe we are still waiting on a dry day or two for the other two rendered walls to be repainted. Looking at the weather today, I imagine we are in for a long wait! All the rendering and re-rendering has ruined the outside paintwork, so I am going to have some upset decorators back on a subsequent dry day to redo all their hard work.

Wouldn't recommend the renderers.

To be fair, I'm not sure which, if any, of the workers we've had on site that I would recommend. They are all lovely people, but each and every item has foolish errors in it. Door handles in the wrong place, threshold strips that are cock-eyed and 10cm from the door itself. Paint all over the light switches. Gaping holes in the plasterwork between sockets. Mucky fingerprints left in wet paintwork. Erroneous nails sticking out all over the place.

I seem to have had disasters with everything. The broadband didn't work when reconnected and after a couple of hour-long phone-calls it had to be switched off and on again at their end, and miraculously things began to communicate properly. The Aga lid has a chip in the enamel. The heat recovery system is now using small grills not large ones, and there is anxiety about the false ceiling, and the hugely expensive box that makes it work was left outside in the rain by the builders. The freezer wouldn't freeze: after a week of being on it had reached about -3 degrees. (This is after I had spent a day cleaning it. It had spent the previous 6 months in the builders' container. Unfortunately, in their wisdom, they had left a half-empty pint of milk inside it back in March. It reeked! On the positive side, it shows the seals on the freezer are in good condition; on the negative ... oh, the smell, the brown dripping gunge and the general feeling of queasiness whenever the door was opened. Bleuch.)

We have reached Practical Completion, and we are practically complete. The list of 131 items that need fixing is alive and active ... but we are getting there.

(And it is gorgeous. Really. Deep down, somewhere beyond the dust and dirt.)


cheshire wife said...

I am sorry that you have had such a terrible time. You wonder how these incompetent workmen make a living, but they seem to some how. You will soon forget it all as you enjoy your swish new house.

Working Mum said...

Aaargh! Builders. Why can't they do a job properly? Do people accept shoddy work and so they think they can get away with it? I've even made tilers take tiles off walls and redo them properly. You need to keep an eye on them every step of the way. Very wearing. You can see why I do all my decorating myself!

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