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Building project started in first week of January. It's a big project: we are COMPLETELY gutting a 3 bedroom 1930s semi to its shell (literally only thing that is left of the house is the external walls and roof), putting in a new concrete slab, removing all external pebbledash, new porch at the front, replacing all windows, doing a two storey rear extension, then converting the loft, retiling the roof, new driveway at the front, then lots of insulation going in inside, screed floor with 3 zones of UFH on ground floor, UFH inbedded in XFLO boards on first and second floor, 5 sky lights, sliding door, new kitchen, 3 new bathrooms, new guest WC, engineered wooden floors on first and second floor, mix of tiles and poured floor on ground floor, feature wall being soundproofed and then tiled in living room (almost 30 sq metres), adding external insulation and re-rendering.

 

Originally, the contract i signed provided for the project to be done within 8 months. I extended this by a week because most of the contractor's team were stuck in the EU until the second week of January. We then found out we had to do some pretty major underpinning so I asked the contractor in March what sort of extension he wanted given the underpinning. We extended by a further 3 weeks, so as at late March contractor was telling me we would be in end of September.

 

Things are going really rather slowly, and I'm just trying to work out when realistically we are going to be in. They have finished building the first and second floor extensions, the porch at the front and they have done all the underpinning. They have also laid the concrete slab on the lower ground floor (well actually I'm not about that - they were meant to do it today, but I haven't gone to check yet) due to do the upper ground floor slab this week. They have removed two chimney breasts and done all associated structural work. They have put in posi joists at first floor level, but still need to do loft floor. They have done all the structural beamwork for the loft conversion, but for reasons I won't get into we are doing the loft conversion itself at the end. None of the skylights have gone in yet, although I think they are waiting for the roof tiles which have taken for ever to arrive due to the pandemic, they are due in the next 10 days.

 

We are subcontracting the poured floor, new staircase, windows, sliding door,  porch door, wood burning stove installation to third parties so that will save the main contractor some time, but otherwise he is doing pretty much everything. Kitchen will be pretty easy because it is all DIY Kitchen Units and we are subcontracting the worktop installation to a third party as well. So effectively, the main contractor still has to:

  • do the slab for upper ground floor (about 25 sq metres)
  • lay insulation, UFH pipes and screed for all the ground floor (81 sq metres)
  • build all the stud walls for almost every room in the house (we only kept one room!)
  • install a new boiler, UHWC, buffer tank, manifolds for UFH and commission it all, and first and second fix plumbing, which will have a secondary loop
  • do all the first and second fix electrics, including installing a new consumer unit and a couple of external lights and all the internal lights for a 5 bed house
  • install and tile 3 bathrooms (one small, one medium and one large) as well as a small understair WC, they all have wall hung toilets that need doing as well
  • retile the roof and install 5 skylights
  • internal plastering and painting (although there is no paintwork on the ground floor as we are using a special plaster that doesn't get painted and tiles)
  • driveway at the front (for one large car)
  • about 32 sq metres of patio needs to be tiled at the back
  • pointing on rear ground floor extension (probably only 20 sq metres of brickwork needs pointing)
  • rendering rest of the house (as well as installing the external insulation.

I am pretty organised and have ordered most of the stuff we need to supply for him to finish the job. Apart from the roof tiles, we're not having too many problems with lead times, so I don't expect there will be any delays on the supply side.

My question is, can all of the above be done by the end of Sept? The team onsite consists of a foreman and two to three other guys. The four of them are there everyday mostly, although there are ocassions when they will drop down to three. The contractor is there most mornings to make sure they know what they are doing. He also brings them supplies. At the beginning when there was a lot of demolition work, there were two more guys there as well, but I haven't seen them for a couple of months.

I'm eager for the project to finish on time as some of it has been quite stressful and we're just getting impatient. But at the same time I don't want them to rush the final stages as it's complex and will take some care. S Based on the gant chart I agreed with the contractor, they are about 4-6 weeks behind. So I know I should adjust my expectations but not sure to what?

November? Christmas?

 

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Depends on availability of materials and other subcontractors and  workforce motivation 

An unknown for us who haven’t seen the project

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Posted (edited)

I really don’t think materials and workforce shortages are an issue here, because I gave him a contract extension for the only spell when his men were stuck in the EU having gone back there for the Xmas holidays and I’m buying so many of the materials. The only things we have had to wait for are roof tiles and a set of posi joists, and he had plenty of other things to do so that wouldn’t have delayed him. What I’m trying to understand is whether he has made a mistake and not realised how big a job he was taking on, or whether he deliberately gave me a low estimate for the time it would take to make himself sound competitive. 

Edited by Adsibob

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So the main contractor is subbing out much of the work too then?

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With a concern at each trade interface?

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Realistically There is little or nothing you can do if the job over runs 
For him to be only six weeks behind after the year we’ve had Is quite an achievement 

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So progress is still pretty slow and I'm starting to get frustrated. I'm trying to work out what progress the builder has made in the 19 days since I started this thread. He's finished the steelwork in preparation for the loft conversion which we are doing later down the line and also steelwork for supporting the posi joists that are going in at loft floor. So when I said 19 days ago that he had "done all associated structural work", that wasn't quite right. I didn't realise there were more a couple more steels to go in. He's still not poured the slab for the upper ground floor.

He's also done a bit of brickwork that was needed (three courses of standard engineering bricks about 7 linear metres) to separate areas in the ground floor where the screed needed to be different heights either side of the brickwork.

Tiles were delivered about two weeks ago, yet no roof work has started yet - not even to the roof of the new front porch which I would have expected would have been a good idea as the weather has been nice and dry recently and it would have kept that area (which is part of the area to have the new slab poured) dry when it starts to rain again in a week or so.

 Now the steel work has finished, two guys could start installing the chipboard subfloor on the first floor and building the stud walls, whilst the other two guys pour the slab on upper ground floor downstairs - they aren't having to mix their own concrete as this is brought in ready mixed and pumped (or at least that was what happened when the poured the slab at lower ground floor).

Posi joists for second floor are due to be delivered next week. Once those go in, is it reasonable for me to say: you now have three separate floors to work on, plus the roof. Plenty of space for you to bring an additional two guys on board so that you can have a team of six rather than four? (From what I can see, the team of four consists of: a foreman who seems to understand how everything needs to be done, but likes to take a lot of breaks; a very hardworking and talented brickie who is also good at joinery; two labourers.)

 

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16 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

...

Once those go in, is it reasonable for me to say: you now have three separate floors to work on, plus the roof. Plenty of space for you to bring an additional two guys on board so that ...

...

 

Maybe put it slightly differently ... How's the labour supply these days?  I think that it's the builder's role to assemble the team he prefers. He may well want one particular person - a good fast, accurate worker - but can't get hold of her / him.

 

On 05/06/2021 at 20:46, Adsibob said:

...

Originally, the contract i signed provided for the project to be done within 8 months. I extended this by a week because...

...

 

What penalty is there for project delays? Or better put, what incentive does the builder have for completing on schedule?

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47 minutes ago, ToughButterCup said:

What penalty is there for project delays? Or better put, what incentive does the builder have for completing on schedule?

The liquidated damages clause that we have in the contract means that if he misses the deadline, then from that point on, he has to pay my rent and council tax for the rental that we are in. That is not cheap! Just our Council tax is £230 a month and rent is about £760 a week. I guess I could probably charge him some utility bills as well, but I probably won't bother.

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If you implement the LADs clause your are going to get into all sorts of interesting discussions about the weather, materials shortages, COVID and possible spec alterations if you have made any.  The outcome of discussions will probably result in him walking off site - think carefully how you want to kick this chat off!

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34 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

The liquidated damages clause that we have in the contract means that if he misses the deadline, then from that point on, he has to pay my rent and council tax for the rental that we are in. That is not cheap! Just our Council tax is £230 a month and rent is about £760 a week. I guess I could probably charge him some utility bills as well, but I probably won't bother.

 

IMHO if you mention or threaten "liquidated damages clause" you might never finish your house

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If you are observing a team that are punctual and on site every day and always doing something then I think you may have to realise that he was being ambitious in his estimate of time schedule. We are project managing our build and it is so frustrating when things get held up due to tiny problems. Most of us are having teams disappear or not answer calls etc.

 

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The purpose of a liquidated damages clause is to make sure I am protected from any damages that directly flow from him being late. The original contract was due to be completed by end of August. There have been some changes and delays which are not his fault and so I invited him in March to make a request for a reasonable extension. He requested end of September and I agreed without any quibbles. Recently he's been complaining about delays which he says are not his fault. I am not sure I agree with him, but I accept that part of the delay is not his fault and rather than enter into an argument with him I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and so I invited him to request another reasonable extension. That was a week ago and I've heard nothing from him. I will remind him this weekend, but my plan is that after he makes the request, if it is reasonable - and by reasonable I think it has to be 3 weeks or less but I will give him the benefit of the doubt and let him go to the end of October - I will agree it but point out to him that there are no more extensions and after that I will have to discount my rent and council tax beyond October from then onwards. On the one hand I agree this is a risky strategy, because it risks him rushing the job and not doing it properly. But on the other hand it's an extremely expensive contract, even for London standards, and I fear he is really taking the piss. If I have to swallow my rent costs as well, then we won't just be over budget, we'll be broke.

 

To answer the point above: am I observing a team that are punctual and on site every day? Well I'm not sure. They take a lot of cigarette breaks and although they are on site at 8am every morning, the first thing they do is have their breakfast. Some guys are harder workers than others. I've seen other sites where the work ethic is better, but also other sites where it is worse, so I guess this is okay. I just think that for such a big job, manning it with 4 guys (and sometimes 3) is a bit poor. I know the contractor has another job somewhere else, but he's being doing this for 30 years, in London, and must have loads of contacts he can draw on.

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1 hour ago, Adsibob said:

request, if it is reasonable - and by reasonable I think it has to be 3 weeks or less


reasonable to whom ..? You’re not a construction expert, he is. You have a legal background, he doesn’t. What is reasonable to the man on the top deck of the No38 Clapham Ombibus ..??
 

Interesting discussion in court where a judge would decide if you had created an unfair contract term and awarded against you on that basis. 
 

In truth, an LDs clause is only useful when you’ve got legal judgement and agreement for full and material breach of contract, and tbh that would be long in the future so isn’t it better to sit down over a cuppa and a pack of chocolate hobnobs and talk it through ..?

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2 hours ago, PeterW said:

reasonable to whom ..? You’re not a construction expert, he is. You have a legal background, he doesn’t. What is reasonable to the man on the top deck of the No38 Clapham Ombibus ..??

Indeed reasonable to the clapham omnibus passenger.

 

2 hours ago, PeterW said:

In truth, an LDs clause is only useful when you’ve got legal judgement and agreement for full and material breach of contract, and tbh that would be long in the future so isn’t it better to sit down over a cuppa and a pack of chocolate hobnobs and talk it through ..?

 

Except that I have a right of set off clause in the contract as well, so I can set off what he owes me in liquidated damages against what I owe him. (I pay him in arrears.) So the only way it would get to Court would be if he sued me for withholding the last few payments to account for my rent. The liquidated damages in dispute would be lower than the small claims track limit, and so the Court wouldn't allow expert evidence, and all the variation notices he has issued show the breakdown in labour costs and materials, so there is already very good contemporaneous evidence that the variations amount to less than the time extension he's already had.

 

But I agree that it's better to talk it over a cuppa than resort to litigation, and I will always try to talk things through. But for the conversation to be productive he needs to understand that he's not the only one that loses money if there is a delay; I lose as well. I just get the impression he thinks that because I've agreed to every price variation notice he's issued and the request for an extension which he's requested, I'm made of money and he's got that seriously wrong.  So we need to find a way of working out how to mitigate delays.

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On 05/06/2021 at 20:46, Adsibob said:

...

My question is, can all of the above be done by the end of Sept?

...

 

The answer is definitely yes.

 

But to achieve that goal, in the light of the posts above,  you will need to behave like a Client not a Domestic Client (CDM 2015).

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+1 on the above.

Everything (almost) is possible, just depends how much money and Big Stick you are willing to throw at it.

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2 hours ago, ToughButterCup said:

But to achieve that goal, in the light of the posts above,  you will need to behave like a Client not a Domestic Client (CDM 2015).

Not sure I follow, what do you mean?

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We are also embarking on a big project but reading this topic making me scared!! I hope you get it done on time but what I will say is in construction and the current situation delays are pretty normal. 

On 05/06/2021 at 20:46, Adsibob said:

internal plastering and painting (although there is no paintwork on the ground floor as we are using a special plaster that doesn't get painted and tiles)

what plaster is this. Any information please?

how much external insulation are you going to use?

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Adsibob said:

Not sure I follow, what do you mean?

The legal distinction between Client and Domestic Client is explained in CDM 2015. There is also an extended discussion on BH here

 

An hour spent researching the difference will be useful for you.  Apologies, in haste, at work....

Edited by ToughButterCup

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Shah said:

what plaster is this. Any information please?

It's made by a company called Clay Works, but there are loads of other suppliers too. Tadelakt do something similar. It's not to everyone's taste, but we like it.

We will probably go for Smooth or Tonal finish: https://clay-works.com/classic-finishes/
My understanding is that one of the main differences between these two products is that Tadelakt will only sell it if they also install it. Hence why we went with Clay Works.

 

Quote

how much external insulation are you going to use?

 

The entire front and side elevations will be coated in a 40mm board and then we will smooth render over that. The part of the rear elevation that isn't being extended will have the same.

Edited by Adsibob

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Great thanks for the link. Will check it out. 

19 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

The entire front and side elevations will be coated in a 40mm board and then we will smooth render over that. The part of the rear elevation that isn't being extended will have the same.

Will that be enough insulation? Are you going to use k-rend?

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Posted (edited)
On 05/06/2021 at 22:37, Adsibob said:

I hope you are wrong @Big Jimbo but I fear you are right.

Word of advice, if you can relax a bit and just accept Christmas, you and those around you will have a better life.

 

I don't know if your target date is driven by you and your families own expectations and eagerness to get in or if there is a financial implication or maybe current living situation implication. 

 

I used to set targets and dates for completion stages all the time, until my wife asked me what would happen if we were not done by date X. We were on holiday when she asked me this and I had a clear head, I thought for a bit, but I must have looked rather perplexed to her because I had no answer. Nothing would happen, I'd have just failed to meet my target date.

 

We came back from holiday with a new date, it came and went, I didn't care. It will be what it will be. I now even have some weekends off from working on "the site". We are actually nearly done, our gravel arrived today for the newly landscaped bits, so did our fence timber. Maybe I should say completion date is the 27th of June... or maybe not, who cares. It will get done.

 

I got my completion certificate yesterday so technically I am done, but you are never done with a property until you sell it!

 

 

Edited by Carrerahill
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