Saturday 27 October 2012

Cowboy Builders

Yes, they're back! Did they ever go away? Is a question some ask.

A recent client of mine in Bedhampton has been ripped off to the tune of more than £24,000 by a couple of what can only be described as cowboy builders.

The extension was a very simple annexe to the main dwelling. However, the errors made were numerous and flew in the face of the planning permission granted by Havant Borough Council. The errors included:
  • Digging the footings and pouring the foundations out of place - 600mm (2 ft) in one direction and 1500mm (5 ft) in the other direction. This clearly and plainly contravened the planning permission given by Havant Borough Council.
  • The above lead to fouling a window in the main property which will now have to be bricked up - causing a loss of light into the kitchen of the main dwelling. This also contravened the planning permission given. 
  • Furthermore, as a result of the foundations being in the wrong place the cowboy builders started the build in the wrong place - further contravening the planning approval. 
  • Built the annexe extension to the wrong dimensions (9.4 metres in length rather than the approved 11 metres and also narrower than original. Yes, this one again broke the planning permission - albeit less so.
  • Attempted to build the annexe extension higher than approved by the planning permission. Finally and once again breaking the permission given.
How did this happen? I you ask. Well, the simple answer is a total lack of understanding of the importance of planning laws, a disregard for what the designer has worked with the client to achieve the needs and wants from the scheme, and a lack of understanding of current building regulations. These cowboys even thought the minimum ceiling height in domestic dwellings was still in place - it was removed in 2008, that is how out of date they were (as virtually everyone in the construction industry knows).

And, what was the cowboy's answer to the above? Well, their answer was to apply for a variation in the planning permission given by using some of my original drawings, my original design and access statement (with a very poorly written D&A statement of their own), and to adapt some of my original drawings to their ends. This was despite the drawings clearly stating they were copyrighted. Plus, there is no guarantee that the new application would be approved, and yet despite this wanted to carry on with the project!

Furthermore and in addition to the above, the cowboy builders also damaged the client's front garden (including knock down a wall), his driveway and damaged the public highway (the latter being criminal damage).

Sadly, the client did not contact me with regard to the above until it was too late to correct most of the above. However, fortunately the client did see the light and sacked the cowboy builders before the project was completed and signed off.

Suffice to say that I am now working with a new and thoroughly professional builder to complete the project (who has said he will complete the project for less than the inflated price quoted by the cowboys). And, so as to ease matters further for the client; I am working for FREE - this is how strongly I feel about these utter cowboys who:
  • Ripped off a pensioner who is also a Royal Navy veteran.
  • Deviated from a planning approved scheme.
  • Broke copyright law.
  • Damaged the public highway (criminal damage).
So, to summarize; be warned - the cowboys builders are out there.

GBS Designs - Architectural Services