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curlewhouse

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Electricity:  Well, we applied for electricity to be connected in March of this year (It is late August as I write this).  Made a couple of calls to see how things were progressing, but never got any call backs. It would have been great to have an electricity supply for the a lot of the work, but in the end I had to buy a generator, which has been a godsend. So come August and we are now living on site in a caravan. I've been in for the last couple of weeks and last night my wife moved in too (we are doing the final move from the old house this week).  So a couple of weeks ago we tried to ring Northern Networks new connections office - only to be told repeatedly that they were too busy and were not taking calls! So had to tell a receptionist who was fielding their calls the whole story - but still not allowed to speak to the new connections department. So over 2 days, my wife and I tried several times a day to get through since surely they must put the phone down at least once in 48 hours? Well, according to the receptionist, not. I asked if I could 1speak to some manager who may be able to help - no, we were not allowed! a flat refusal!

 

I got an email from our original contact engineer to the effect that they had not received our acceptance of the quote in March! (in reality, things getting "lost in the post" is vanishingly rare, in my experience, certainly here in the North East, though I know it can be an issue in parts of the South). So I resent a copy - a week or two later we get it back with scrawled "OOT" - and a letter saying We were Out Of Time to reply! -  and must start again from the beginning, getting an engineer to check the site etc. etc.

 

By means I'll not disclose, I obtained a managers name in the new connections department and managed to bluff my way past the guard and was actually able to speak to him!  He at least seemed to sympathise that 5 months is too long and I got him to promise he would watch to see this latest application didn't get "lost in the post" for 5 months yet again.

 

Either way, I had to reapply - I pointed out to him how silly it was for the engineers to have to look at it from scratchy and could they not just resurrect using the map and details they already have? He agreed, and so after a week and a half another quote came - exactly the same as last time.  So I've posted 2 copies of our acceptance in separate post boxes AND emailed both the department, and the person named on the letter, and got read receipts and delivery confirmation emails.  

 

Meantime, if we want a shower in the caravan we have to nip out and turn the generator on - which is noisy for our nearest neighbours, and whilst they have not complained, I am very aware of the noise. As at present I got to work around 0430, I really cannot in fairness run the generator, so it makes things pretty difficult.  I'm sitting in the new house shell writing this with the generator running so I can use the computer and internet with ear defenders on! We run the genny in the house to try and cut some of the external noise down (with doors/windows open of course). Its not conducive to  thought though to be honest. Unfortunately mobile data is so bad here that web sites time out, so this is the only way we can get on the internet from the site.  I really wish they'd hurry up with the connection!    

 

Water:  Curiously, we have had the same lack of response from Northumbrian water.  They like to see the service pipe running into the house, but no way could I keep the trench open for 6 months safely so eventually, I filled it back in when they'd done nothing for 3 months (its a mere 1 metre from our boundary to the water main) .  Chasing them up again, they were very good and apologised profusely and promised a guy out that week, they also said they quite understood that it was dangerous for me to leave a trench open 6 months on a building site. when the guy came I was at work, so when he turned up and said he needed to inspect the pipe (I've actually even pressure tested it myself) was deep enough and bedded properly  she handed him a spade and told him to help himself :D .  Strangely enough it then did not need inspecting - funny that!  When they come to connect to it (the end is sticking out of the ground of course) and dig down, they will see the depth and the sand bedding it is in anyway.

 

Openreach have been OK. PlusNet cut our business internet connection off 2 weeks before we moved  (and that's a business connection!) and said it would be 3 weeks before they'd switch it on, despite Openreach having connected us up! In the event, they did it a couple of days early, but knocking business accounts off for 3 weeks is simply not good enough - that could destroy some businesses completely.

We have ADSL rather than fibre, but actually, since the rest of the village is now on fibre we have it all to ourselves and so far it's pretty reasonable speed-wise (when the generator is no to power the modem of course). 

 

As for the house itself, the builder tells me that he should be starting the stonework in 3 weeks now the roof is 90% finished.  

 

 

 

 

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Ah, the power of Facebook.  I posted on Northern power Networks page about how we are having to use a generator despite agreeing their quote back in March (I'm writing this sat in the new house with ear defenders o0n so I can concentrate above the generator noise) so cannot have electricity after about 7p.m or before 9a.m out of respect of our neighbours and got an immediate PM asking for full details - followed next day by a call apologising and (apparently) horrified that we were refused to be allowed to speak to a manager who could help.  Apparently the matter is now "with wayleave dept" -  back in March the neighbouring landowner was perfectly happy to allow his track to be dug up for the 1 metre it need to pass the cable through our boundary wall - however in the months since then he has laid a good surfaced track so fingers crossed he is still OK about it or we'll face further months delay as it has to come in another way. This would be avoided if they'd simply done it back in March or even April when we applied.  He's a nice guy though so hopefully it will be fine.

Water was promised last week but has not appeared.... 

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Getting services installed does seem to be one of the biggest hold ups when self building. what a shame that companies cannot just get on a do their job efficiently!

Edited by TheMitchells
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Well, after being told the electricity connection process was "with wayleave dept." I spoke to the guy who owns the land our connection has to come 1 metre through - he is absolutely fine about it, but confirmed last night that no one has been in touch with him! So posted this on NorthernNetworks Facebook page again last night and surprise surprise I got a call today from an apologetic lady saying she works in wayleave and only received the job last night.  You really have to wonder how firms can get so bad at what they do - I mean you'd really have to go out of your way to be this bad! It takes dedication and a lot of effort.

 

Anyway, on the plus side, I took a day off work today as I'm expecting several deliveries and by sheer chance the building inspector rang and said could he come and take a look at the roof today. So that was great timing and he's more than happy with it and commented on how good the standard of work is. We are pleased too and a nearby roof has also been done recently and even with a laymans eye you can see that our guys work is better. We are really pleased with the roof - it's done with recycled slates, and as we'd hoped, looks  the part (it's in a rural Northumberland village) already as if it's been there years. Only the neatness of the lines gives away that bits new.

 

Today I am putting the DPM and floor insulation down on the utility and downstairs bathroom floors with the intention of doing them first so we can get the washing machine etc in and have a shower and loo ASAP.  The UFH kit is due to all arrive today, so hopefully we might get that down before the weekend in those rooms, though the utility room is where the manifold will live so the pipework there is a little involved so I'll need to be sure its right before I concrete it!.

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Well the lady from the wayleave department has been great - turns out she is local and had seen our house going up and wondered why she had not received anything about it. Because of the delays she went in person to see the neighbouring landowner with the forms and got them done there and then next day after I spoke to her. What a shame the rest of her organization wasn't like that.  The generator is playing up and cutting out so my poor wife got in from a 12 hour night shift wanting a shower (she's a nurse and the NHS being the way it is the shower for staff has no curtain or privacy and is used for storage) to wash the many germs she's no doubt exposed to off, and was unable to get one because of the lack of electricity, so we are fed up now with the lack of a connection.  I think she wasn't far off tears when she went back to work last night.

 

I emailed all the contacts I've had at Northern Power Networks last night about the situation, pointing out that we still have not been given a date for connection, only a verbal promise of "as soon as possible" - which given their 6 month delay so far could mean 1 day or 1 year!  I mentioned that I had no doubt that they would all go home to hot water, showers and electric lighting, but we are not far off living "like tramps" thanks to their "losing" the paperwork from March (they claim it was "lost in the post", but since they also will not answer their phones ( we tried repeatedly - you get a secretary who says they are all too busy to take your call) I smell a large rat and increasingly suspect it was "lost" as a way of avoiding the work. My wife is considering if we should go and look at renting a house again as we have absolutely no idea at all when they intend to do anything. We certainly can't keep buying generators. I think the model we got has been very good, but I think it's obviously not made for the amount of use it's been getting.  At least I do have the MPAN number now and have sent that to our would-be supplier. They tell me it's a 3 to 5 week admin process between being connected and the supply being on - so by sending it to the supplier early, I hope to limit this as it allows them to get on with the process whilst Northern Power Networks still dither. The thought of October/November with no electricity for showers/heating etc in Northumberland is too grimd to contemplate, so if there's no progress these next few days I think we'll have to start looking quickly for a temporary rental somewhere or some other answer to the generator issue. I've asked Northern Powergrid if they have a generator loan scheme for when they cannot supply properties which we could borrow while we look for a short term rental. Trouble is if I buy one, they could connect us next day - or in another 6 months, we have no idea, so a loaner would be good.

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Edited by curlewhouse
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2 hours ago, curlewhouse said:

Well the lady from the wayleave department has been great

 

2 hours ago, curlewhouse said:

she went in person

Oh how good did that feel????

A little bit of faith in the human race restored.

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Yes, she emailed me as soon as they passed the file to her, apologising for the delays (though it was none of her fault personally as she'd not been involved until that moment) and asked me to ring her. Just as she then promised, she then went next day to see the guy in person about the wayleave agreement to save the time it would have taken posting the forms out and getting them back, and took one of the engineer guys with her to look at the site. I can't speak highly enough of her, credit where it is due, and I emailed a thank you to her, copied into other people who've been involved (perhaps her example might rub off?) in the issue.  

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