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Living in a building site!

January has been a pretty full month for us and sadly I’ve not had chance to do anything yet about a veg plot. It started on the 4th with the kitchen re-fit. Now the kitchen is pretty much the heart of the home and having it remodelled is about as disruptive as you can get.

The old kitchen was semi-split from the dining room with a stud wall complete with giant serving hatch more suited for the village hall than a house. The dust when that came down was incredible and got everywhere in the house of course.

The kitchen fitters are friends of mine and they are pretty experienced but even so it took longer than any of us expected. Old houses are always tricky, straight walls and level floors being a relatively modern invention.

There were quite a lot of electrical works involved – it’s amazing how many plugs you need in a kitchen now – which really disrupted things for a week. It wasn’t the planned times when the power would be off that was the problem as the unplanned trips. When you’ve got an hour’s work done on the computer and BANG off goes the power, well shall we say the air turned blue?

Still, it’s basically done now apart from waiting for a replacement fridge. In the 20 years I worked in the kitchen industry, I don’t recall ever having a fridge dead on arrival, so this was a first for me!

However, I’d promised we’d have the kitchen Val wanted this time and we have. Our other kitchens have always been designed with selling the house in mind but this time it’s purely what we want. Not the most expensive doors in the range by far but we’ve got pull out units, large pan drawers, carousels and even a 3 part pull-out recycling waste bin. No scrabbling in the back of cupboards for when we’re old and working with arthritic knees!

Just as the kitchen fitters were finishing up, the next set of builders arrived. At the back of the house we’ve a cowshed, about half the size of the house. This is in two separate sections with a door between. Potentially these sheds will be incredibly useful and will provide a storage area for my rotovator and shredder etc and a log store on one side the other being a utility area come workshop and a food store.

The builders had hardly gotten started when the first and a major problem arose. The plan was to remove the existing slates from the roofs, felt and re-lay the slates to make the roofs watertight. What we couldn’t see from ground level were the tiny little holes indicative of woodworm

The rafters were that rotten that you could literally crush some of them into powder with your bare hand! Once you’ve started a job like this, there’s no way out. You bite the bullet and replace them and just hope the bill isn’t too outrageous.

On the other roof there was a long purlin which was supposed to support the rafters above. Comprised of 2 beams about 3″ by 8″ bolted together, it looked pretty robust but it turned out to have rotted away at both ends and was actually suspended in the air by the sagging rafters rather than holding them up! The wonder is that the whole thing hadn’t collapsed.

Add to the mix the discovery that there once was a wooden lintel over a doorway that has completely rotted away and so the wall above is standing up by willpower and the wooden lintel above a window is nearly gone to and it seems we’ve got the builders in just in time.

If I’d waited a year, as we considered, rather than adding a bit to the mortgage to pay for all this, I think we’d have had a large pile of rubble rather than sheds. How they roof hasn’t gone under some of the winds we have here, I don’t know.

Now the problem from a gardening point of view is that everything is crammed into the dry section of the sheds whilst they work on the other roof and I can’t get at anything. It’s not just my gear either, the builders are storing their gear in there. Everything from bags of cement to saws and drills. Must admit to being a bit jealous of their power nailer – that’s a beast of a tool.

So, in response to the emails I’ve had asking if I’m well, yes I’m fine thanks – just not a lot to write about (to do with growing) in my diary. I’ve popped a few pictures up that I took earlier today of the ongoing works.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
2 comments on “Living in a building site!
  1. dig4victory says:

    Hi John
    This is the first time I have checked in to the dairy on this site – I’m looking forward to looking over past entries.

    Good luck on the rest of the building work, it looks an exciting project.

    What a lovely picture of the cats checking out the work in progress – you know a project is right only when you get the paws up from a cat.

    Happy belated New Year to you and all here!

  2. steve calver says:

    Ah ha so your still living then? Thought you had fallen off the end of the world, or had forgotten us.

    Oh yes to the grist, kitchens are interesting things, ours was refitted a few years back, not to how I would do it but we had little choice.

    However, the cooker is somewhat ancient being 2nd hand when I moved here in October 1993. Recently there was a blue flash when I switched it on so decided to get a new one, it still carried on working and I am still here to tell the tell.

    But one piece of advice I have given the experience that I have had from Sainsbury’s in regard to a new cooker or any white goods, is that in future I will go to a small reputable independent dealer in future and the majors can go hang themselves.

    Cooker was duly order 2 weeks ago, delivery scheduled for Sunday 23rd January 2011. It arrived the old one was removed, the installer, said “oh this is a new model” (word of warning not a good sign), he then wired it up and fired up the wall switch.

    Result big blue flash, resetting the circuit breaker was fine, he then looked at instructions and wired it up again. It was working intermittently except the oven or so I was lead to believe. “Oh if the top works I can manage until you get a replacement out”, I said.

    He duly left, cooker did not work at all when I went to use it, result I phoned Sainsbury’s to be greeted by what can be only described as some one talking in a metal box lined with wool (and about as much use), it was easier to hear what the person next to her was saying than what she said. Result, I would have to wait until Monday as no one was in with the delivery company and no manager was around.

    So I waited until 10am on Monday and phoned them, to be informed that the persons I needed to speak to where on the phone busy and that they would inform them to ring me asap. ASAP turned into 4pm, result new cooker would be delivered to replace this one on Saturday between 8am and 12pm, an engineer would call out on the Friday (today) (an all day appointment, as no time could be specified) and he would check out the electrics.

    All fine you would think, oh the sum total of my compensation was £10 in the form of an e-voucher which was issued on Sunday.

    By Tuesday I had had second thoughts and was out of the house when I had a bit of luck, I got off the bus and next to the bus stop was a second hand store, I could see fridges etc etc outside and went in. To find right before my eyes a cooker very similar to the one that I had but which was not working.

    I enquired as to how much it was, £90 including delivery, it had only come in the day before all the usual stuff, it won’t be here for long. So off I toddled and did what I had to do but on the way back I decided that I would purchase this cooker, having left a deposit and it will be delivered when I want. It is now mine…all simples you would think…….

    Ah but not so fast….I proceeded to call Sainsbury’s back this was around 2pm, I requested that the engineer should still come out to look at the wiring and socket to ensure it was all safe. My next request was that I wanted a refund was accepted but when it came to when are you taking the unwanted appliance away…..”oh you will have to wait for our delivery company to phone you back”.

    Now you would think it was again simple, no all they had to do was turn a delivery slot on Saturday into a collection only slot. No…..”it’s a different policy was what I was told”.

    So I waits in on Wednesday and by 6.30pm had had enough, so I called Sainsbury’s back, to be informed that the despatch company had phoned me and left me a message.

    It was at this point I got somewhat annoyed. As indeed I had gone out but prior to going out I had dialled 1471 on my phone and the last incoming call was on Monday 24th at 16.38pm. I did the same upon my return some 40 minutes later and again before I phoned them.

    When the operative was informed that she was incorrect in her assumption that they had called me I got the response “Don’t shoot the messenger”. I was informed that the item would be collected on Saturday between 8am and 12pm.

    At this point I spoke to a manager who could understand my distress in not being able to cook, no mention was made of compensation and none will be made until the item is returned to them. Meanwhile I have been unable to work all week waiting for them to phone me or sort out the issues. “Nothing could or can be done until the item is picked up”.

    What made it even better on Wednesday I got an email in regard to the cooker on “how satisfied I was with my new purchase”. Needless to say as of yet it has not been filled out.

    Thursday went fine, no dealings with Sainsbury’s or phone calls.

    Today the man called checked the wiring and electrics, the 1st installer had indeed wired it up wrong, the 2nd corrected it. Tested it no flashes or clicking of circuit breakers. All good you might think…..

    He gets a call on his phone and he speaks to whoever and informs her of situation, he thinks I wish for a reschedule having not listened to “I want my money back and they are coming to pick it up tomorrow morning”.

    He suggests the person who installed it needs to be retrained. Its not what I would suggest but hey ho.

    Moving swiftly on, so I decided to call them some 3-4 hours ago to double check that they are still coming on Saturday to pick the item up. Oh no it is my mistake, there seems to be some confusion, there is no record of it needing to be collected.

    It was suggested that “as it was Friday, I may have to wait until Monday to get a call.

    So it looks like I may loose the best part of another weeks work but hey they can understand my problem and how difficult it is for me.

    So the guy offers for me to speak to manager, who again understands my problem but offers to email and phone the delivery company (Comet)to see if he can move things along like.

    So far nothing not a peep have I heard nor am any closer to getting the unwanted item removed, or getting the 7 month old cooker installed. But hey no worries after all I am only the customer.

    We are and never were very good at customer service as a general rule in this country but when we get it wrong we get it so very wrong. This has been a nightmare from start to finish and no sight of a resolution either, meanwhile my money still sits in their bank account.

    It is tempting to have Bulky Bob’s or some other community interest company come along and take it away, it would be worth it just to tell Sainsbury’s where to pick it up from. Perhaps if some purchased it they would then go some way to see how inconvenienced I have been.

    But the downside is that not sure I would get my money back but it would make a great story for the newspapers.

    But I suppose I should be grateful, I now have a cooker in which two rings work, along with the grill and the oven. Only I wish it was gone from my sight.

    Throughout this whole fiasco I have not once lost my temper or done more than raise or change the tone of my voice. The only bad language I have used was in the conversation with the first manager who took exception to my use of the words “cock-up” and threatened to terminate the call if I did not stop using bad language.

    I have a few words for them which are much more choice than cock-up which I think by most peoples’ standards is pretty tame but who am I to argue after all I am only the customer.

    Here is the moral of this tale, another colleague of mine has had a similar issue with his washing machine. Get this on Wednesday he travels some 30 miles round-trip to an independent retailer. He selects his model, and “asks when can you deliver” response “would tomorrow (yesterday) between 9am and 1pm be OK.

    It arrived at 12.30, they took away his old machine installed the new one, delivery was free as was installation. Now similar to another colleague (hence why he went there), when she priced up the same model with Comet, it would have cost a further £60 with delivery, recycling and fitting…now go figure.

    If an independent can do this why oh why can a major not give such outstanding customer service. Answer because with the majors, its not tied up to customers, its tied up with logistics and central distribution, the customer comes last.

    Hence why in future I would not be going back to any major for any goods, give me an independent dealer every-time (had a similar nightmare with Dell some years back but that is another story).

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