Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The builders

(Eldest shooting a video for his media project in the 'kitchen'.)

The builders have been here since Friday July 26th and I have officially had enough.

I am aware that moaning about builders is what Middle One calls, 'a first world problem'. We're not a displaced war-traumatised family in Syria. We're not Eritreans so desperate to flee poverty we're prepared to risk life and limb in an overcrowded leaky old boat on rough seas. We are a middle class family of five in south London having a kitchen extension. 

Still, I think I might be suffering from a PTBS, that's post-traumatic builder stress, except it's not 
so much post because they're still very much here. Unfortunately. Here are a few observations -

1. Kitchen extensions in Victorian terraced houses are inherently horrible because everything has to come through the front door. That's every wheelbarrow, every ounce of concrete, every pipe and wire and breezeblock, every brick, and every bum-crack sporting brickie

3. Builders don't tell the truth. They can't help it. Number one is the 
schedule. "Oh it will only take 11 weeks max," means, "It will take five and a half months and by the time we're finished we will all loathe the sight of each other."

4. Builders offer to do extra things in your house at the start of the job and then don't follow through. You want that underfloor heating tweaked in the upstairs bathroom? No problem, we can easily fit a new control panel for you. All such offers miraculously dry up the minute the build starts. We all know this will happen but choose to be optimistic.

5. Why?

6. The price always goes up, never down. Even if some things end up quicker and easier than they thought. 

7. Who am I kidding? Nothing ends up easier or quicker than they thought. 

8. Quite how the price goes up is a mystery since you told them exactly what you wanted at the outset. 

9. When builders make a mistake they pass the cost on to you. (For example, not building the trench for the foundations deep enough and having to re-dig them.) When you make a mistake the cost stops with you. How any builder in London ever goes out of business is a mystery, it's foolproof. Having said that...

10. So far our builders have - failed to cover the beautiful front tessellated path so that it's now worn and cracked and damaged, tripped out the leccy when we were on holiday so that all the food went off in the fridge and had to be thrown away, failed to consider disconnecting the kitchen alarm so that it went off the whole time upsetting the neighbours, put a foot through the cellar ceiling damaging a pipe and causing a flood, made an absolutely bloody huge mistake with the main supporting beam so that it was failed TWICE by the building inspector and there are now cracks all over the place, made a glass door with a frame too narrow for a proper handle, plaster-boarded around a fireplace with non-fireproof board, over-run by four weeks with no real end date in sight. Although I'm sure most of this is par for the course.

On the plus side the beam has finally passed, the plasterers are in today and the builder seems to be a basically good guy who gave Husband a bottle of vodka for his birthday and mended our wedding picture. And he says he'll fix the damage to the house free of charge. He's going to put that in writing.

So watch this space reader…

Love E x

(Beautiful glass door, no space for a proper handle.)


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  1. There you go, builders making lawyers look good.


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