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Bloody Builders...!

I never seem to have any luck with builders. The idea of buying a rundown house and doing it up has always appealed and we’ve attempted some home improvements over the years but every time we end up having nightmare.

This time we thought we would chuck money at the problem, maybe all our bad luck has been due to the fact we have tried to get a deal, cut corners, try and make it as cheap as possible. We got four quotes and went with the second most expensive (the most expensive was truly taking the mick), we chose Simply Extend as they were an established company with excellent references, recommendations and customer service helpline, there was no way this company could disappear or avoid calls as some of our previous builders had. They even had insurance that meant if they went bust our work would all still be guaranteed.

They quoted us, gave us a full schedule of works and we paid a 25% deposit on signing the contract last August. So it was time to find a kitchen to put into the new extension. We were only adding 10 sq mt, but it would square off the room and give us bi-folding doors and more usable space.

We found a lovely company in St Albans The Shaker Kitchen Company and we set about designing our dream kitchen, a couple of weeks later we had perfected it and we put down a 50% deposit so the kitchen could be made and shipped over as it had a 12 - 14 week wait. Surely by this time the extension would be done…..

We had several visits from structural engineers and architects who designed and made drawings of the work to be done, we spent £2k on party wall agreements and planning permissions, all of this took ages, but finally in November we were ready. We were told that our project manager had been assigned, he would visit us and then we could agree on a start date.

There had been a delay on our kitchen and we were informed that it had been made but wouldn’t arrive until mid February, so we thought starting after Christmas would be fine and would fit with our kitchen arrival perfectly. Weeks passed and still our project manager hadn’t visited, so we called and pushed, until a week before Christmas he finally comes to our house. He was barely through the door before he was shaking his head and tutting. Within 5 minute he informed us that there was no way the work could be done for the price that had been quoted for us!


We have a cellar and the gentleman who had quoted hadn’t really taken that into consideration, even though he was completely aware it was there. The project manner threw lots of engineering speak around, talking of pillars and steels, and the fact that the man who’d quoted was a ‘salesman’ not a builder. He went away to re-price the job and myself and Jason went into a panic.

It was already costing 48k for the build and we had 5k contingency, but that was it. Jason said there was no way they could just hike up the price and expect us to pay, that was bad business, our lovely customer service advisor agreed with this, before reassuring us that everything would be okay. Our project manager promised to get back to us before Christmas so we didn’t have to worry about it over the festive season, he didn’t, so we worried about it. Finally after many phone calls and emails post New Year we got an email explaining that the work would actually cost £76,000 and not £48,000…… we were stunned. How on earth do you make that kind of mistake????

So we were put in the position where we either cough up 50% more than we’d been quoted and go ahead with the extension, which was impossible as we just didn’t have the money, or we cancel the whole thing, ask for our deposit back including the monies we paid for the planning and party walls and cancel the kitchen.

The company agreed that they were at fault and said they would refund the deposit (which I still haven’t received) but that they wouldn’t give us the 2k for our other outgoings as they too had spent 2k on drawings etc. We’ve lost 6 months and £2000 which is a huge amount of money and I’m really pissed off.

The kitchen had already been made so was impossible to cancel and so we have spent the past week trying to fit the kitchen into our current space. We didn’t use all the units and we still need to have some work done to knock out chimney breasts and block up doors to make the new design fit, but It’s going to be lovely.

I’ll keep you informed with how its going and post lots of pics, but in the meantime, if you know of reliable builders let me know, they’re like gold dust for us.