As we lurch into another week of very little happening on remedial works compared with masses accomplished on the driveway, I’ll start this post with a bit of a change in tone. The blog has gone from Public to Private to keep the project’s chronological recordings from being used by lawyers, and since you’ve suffered through the rigamarole of answering invitations and creating log-ins and passwords to get access here, let me reward you by gently leading you towards the edge of the rabbit hole to peer down at what’s really been going down behind my previously sugar-coated versions of my eleventy bloody billion previous posts.
The post-flood remedial works are supposed to be complete by 16 September. This would be funny if we hadn’t been here before; now it’s just business as usual. It includes both a builders clean and a sparkle clean as well as the handover of The O&M Manual. Just that alone should take about two weeks! O is for Operations, but I’m a little hazy on M if it’s not Manual, as it would then be an Operations and Manual Manual. ?? Tim’s plan such as it is, has the electricians in Tuesdau (HA!–still hadn’t had confirmation of their arrival by last Friday), decorating and groundworks complete, joinery assembled and snagging finished by Friday, leaving room for the cleaners to be in early next week. Clearly, pigs are aloft in Oxshott, and there’s nothing we can do but watch this oncoming train wreck. For the third time.
The biggest problem is that there’s no stipulation of timing with the insurance works–the loss adjuster is only interested in cost. Our rent and associated Liquidated Ascertained Damages are considered uninsured losses and aren’t covered in the remedial works, but a small teensy portion of them is covered in the JCT, the main contract of the build. And the kicker with that is that when we took advice from Ben at the beginning, we set the LADs to be £500 a week which just about only covered our rent and not a lot else. Clearly this is no where near enough and doesn’t cover things like numerous removals, setting up services at a rental property, storage costs, postal redirection, estate agents fees or wear and tear on one’s soul. We’ve got a discussion to have with Ben, but….
Anyway, as there’s never been a dull moment on this project, er, apart from the bricklayers’ one-week strike…. or maybe the plasterers’ scheduled three week/actual six week stint (unbelievable),…. the biggest hiccup this week is that Ben has left. He has suffered a bit of a breakdown and if he told me that half the problem was bullying by our contractor, I wouldn’t be surprised. His girlfriend wrote to us on Friday effectively resigning him, and his out-of-office email says the office is closed until Autumn 2017. It’s a huge blow to him personally, and it’s horrible for him I’m sure. But professionally, it leaves us right up the creek without our paddles.
The contract requires a Contract Administrator, and because Tim is Tim, and he is entitled to do so in the contract, he won’t do any work at all without one. So we’ve hired Alyson (welcome, Alyson) from Aspire, the driveway crowd (who’s doing an awesome job), to pick up the pieces and see us across the finish line. It’s the logical solution as their values as a company are exemplary, the work they’re doing on the drive will actually be done early (Shocking. I know.), and they know the landscape (sorry) of developing houses in the area. Tim’s already objected that us hiring her is a conflict of interest, and to object to her appointment is another one of his entitlements under contract, but I’m not sure if it’s in his interest or if an adjudicator would agree with him, because we all simply want this wrapped up. Perhaps Tim will relax into this new appointment, and I hope he does for everyone’s sake. Alyson is meeting with Tim this week, and hopefully they can get started without drama.
The JCT says that the contractor has to make “regular and diligent progress.” Diligence is a little suspect because as you can see on the time-lapse, although Mike is armed with paints and brushes, he’s spent an awful lot of that time talking to the Aspire guys outside. Everyone’s really waiting for the flooring guys to finish laying the wood upstairs before any real work can start. They’d done a lot of the joinery work before the flooring went down: some of the doors needed replacing and lots of warped architrave was reinstated. You’d think that after Tuesday when the flooring was finished, that they’d be onsite in force. But, sadly, no. Still no site manager, still no programme. Tiles and skirting hadn’t been ordered, groundworkers were nowhere to be seen, and, surprise, no sparkies had attended for weeks. I would like to be pleasantly surprised to have these things in place and all mapped out. But I’m still waiting even now. It’s a big ask for Alyson to wade in at this eleventh hour, she seems up for the challenge, and we’re putting a lot of faith in her.
Dave completed the snagging list over the weekend ready to give to Tim today. Everyone loves a list because you can simply tick things off which gives an enormous sense of progress. The challenge is to put some perspective on the individual items. Some, like reinstating the driveways for our long-suffering neighbour round the back are huge. Others, like picking up a single bolt off a windowsill, are insignificant. It’s great that the list is done and distributed, but I can’t honestly see the more than 200 items being scheduled and done by next Friday. Do you?
Take a look at the electrical cupboard for instance. It needed to be completely reinstalled because it sat right in the path of the waterfall back in June. The sequence of works to fix it involves the electricians, our appointed security guy doing the alarm, the plumbers doing the heating manifold, the joiners and the decorators to each do their thing. You’d obviously think, “oooo this requires careful sequencing of trades.” What we’ve ended up with is everyone doing a little bit when they can, nothing getting completely done, and a shocking puzzle pieces arrangement of build-out joinery to cover it all: wires sticking out, bare blockwork behind pipes, unintelligible arrangements of wires….. What we want, and what’s on the snagging list to be done, is a quality finished cupboard. This isn’t it.
Enough griping. I haven’t put any time-lapses on the blog for a while so I’ve put a bunch showing progress made on the drive at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, here’s a lovely tiny video of some hawk action one day when visiting site (Allison, can you tell what these creatures are?) and a few photos front and back.
Next week we’re supposed to see tilers, joiners, grounds-guys, electricians and decorators. And the kitchen company because someone has dinged one of the doors and it needs replacing. I’m sure much of this will happen, but the problem with having a load of trades in all at once is that it gets crowded and work actually slows down. We’ll check the snagging list against how much progress was made on Friday.
In the meantime, the drive will be finished a few days early. Go figure.