ROGUE BUILDER'S TACTICS TO EARN MORE MONEY ON CHANGING THE DESIGN AGREEMENT
We thought it would be useful to put together a common list of builders' excuses we hear daily which can get quite tiring trying to explain to the homeowner that it is not just mentioned on their job but on every other project we deal with. It's like a tactic that is played out by the builder thinking that we will not mind or it will easily slip through the net which will benefit the builder by saving large sums of money.
LIST OF ALL THE COMMON TACTICS
BUILDERS USE TO SAVE & SKIMP TO BENEFIT THE ONLY PERSON BUT THEMSELVES
If you are a homeowner and are currently preparing or are already into your project and have been asked by your builder the following from the list below, we have put together the most likely reasons why your builder is questioning it. Over the years we have heard and seen to hand all the excuses made by builders in ways of trying to cut corners to gain profits to line their pockets in making more money for themselves. Making more money is the main reason behind all the suggestions they come up with, the other reason is the ease of the build method as they can’t be bothered to build the correct way or they may just not be experienced to carry out the works the correct way to follow building regulation methods. Any builder that mentions the following before hiring to take on the project should be avoided. Below are just a number of examples of excuses we hear for the builder to avoid doing the job properly.
DO NOT FALL, VICTIM, TO ANY OF THESE COMMON TACTICS
1. We can do away with the BOX-FRAME and use one Steel Beam instead.
The Engineer has designed a new foundation with a specific size in width and depth that is different to the existing foundation arrangement to withstand the new loading designed. The existing foundation is inadequate in size and does not carry the design composition to withstand the loading of the new structure.
Saving the need of excavating and using cubic meters of concrete is a
massive saving in labour and skip hire will be around £250 per cubic meter.
No, the builder can't use one beam. The engineer has designed a box frame consisting of 4 STEELS to be bolted together for the additional loading designed to accommodate for any lateral restraint, (2 columns, 1 ground beam and 1 upright) all designed by a specialist and approved by building control.
Saving the purchase and installation of 4 STEELS (BOX-FRAME) will be around £5000+vat.
2. We can use the existing foundation as its good enough.
3. We can use a timber post instead of a steel post in the loft.
The post has been designed on the drawings as a steel post that is solidly fixed to two beams by bolts. one end of the post is fixed in the floor beam and one end is fixed in the ridge beam. A solid steel fixing arrangement is the best method for loft conversions. Timber and steelwork have limited fixture results.
Using a timber post saves fabrication detailing, welding on site and ease of installation as the timbers can be cut on-site easily and fixed together, saving approx. £350+vat.
4. We can build up the gable wall in timber instead of brickwork on this loft.
Brickwork or blockwork is much stronger than a timber wall. The ridge beam is supported on the gable wall and this needs to be solid. Building any gable wall in timber is a shortcut in using more expensive materials and the use of a bricklayer. A Timber wall does not carry the same properties as a solid wall construction choice, in every thermal composition, durability, fire protection, soundproofing nature and look.
Saving around £1000+vat using timber materials and carpentry skills instead of hiring a bricky.
Not mentioning any Loft Conversion Company names with this photo above, but this is a shortcut to making profits only for the company's benefit and no one else. The Client knows nothing about building or construction methods. In today's field, it's even more challenging to get a Builder to quote the customer happy. The Builder promises a loft conversion to the client and talks about the visual elements and what will the customer be getting out of the money being spent. How many Bedrooms? Is the ensuite included? How many Velux's can we have? fitted wardrobes are they included? etc. The Loft conversion company are like a salesman, no different to Kitchen installers selling the product to the customer. There is never talk about the materials being used for construction. We live in the UK, not in AMERICA, JAPAN or TIMBUKTU where houses are built out of TIMBER! We live in the UK where all houses have always been built out of BRICKS / BLOCK / STONE still following the traditional methods of building from when Castles were built. We did a survey asking 30 Builders if when they were building a loft conversion on their own property what form of construction would the GABLE WALL be built out of? All 30 builders replied SOLID of course! Why ask the question? timber is the cheaper alternative and we want the best for our house! so why ask the question?
THIS PROVES SOME BUILDERS ARE TRYING BY ANY MEANS TO GAIN PROFITS. (not all builders)
5. We can do away with a steel beam or post as its over kill.
6. We can use MK04 skylights instead of what the client ordered.
7. We can build the Extension in blockwork instead of brickwork.
The client has chosen the size and amount of skylights which have been approved by the local authority. The size matters as it brings in natural daylight into the loft space, who wants a dark loft room after spending over £40,000+vat + on their loft conversion?
Choosing Mk04 Velux compared to Mk06/8 has a saving difference of £150 - £250 for each Velux.
The Engineer has designed all to work with backed up working calculations to justify all loadings being imposed on the new structure so a strict rule to follow the design is essential.
Avoiding a Steel Beam or column will be in the region of £300+vat per meter.
The Client has chosen Brickwork and has followed strict council design guidelines, brickwork looks much better than a blockwork render finish and is maintenance-free.
Switching from Brickwork to blockwork will bring the cost down of the build substantially
8. Were going to use 50mm insulation instead of 100mm.
No, the design has been carefully designed to achieve all the U-Values, especially now since June 15th all the Approved Building regulation documents Part L have been changed. Stick to using what is on the drawings so the homeowner can obtain a final completion certificate of compliance.
Using thinner insulation is a common tactic to try and get away with the different insulation being not noticed by the inspectors. The inspectors are not stupid and know all these tricks, they will ask the builder to expose other areas of the wall to see if the right insulation has been installed. Using 100mm Kingspan or Celotex insulation to 50mm will save the builder Approx. £75+vat per sheet.
NOW FOR THE NEGLIGENCE STOREYS
9. Your project does not need planning permission just build without it.
All design works whatever the design if it falls within Permitted Development must be checked by the planners as peace of mind. No design is safe until a submission is made and a final certificate of a planning decision is made. The builder wants to start right away in a rush, he or she is not a planning specialist and I'm sure if a breach in planning control is made the builder will never be seen again leaving you the homeowner to sort all the pieces out. Our famous saying back here in the office is
"NO DESIGN IS LAWFUL UNTIL PROVEN BY MEANS OF A SUBMISSION". There are 32 Boroughs in London and all 32 Boroughs' planning systems can or may interpret the PD legislation different from the other, so it's a massive gamble thinking the design falls with the PD policy when you could receive a refusal by means of a case officer interpreting the guidelines differently, which has happened countless times. Never build thinking your design falls under PD as you may be the one with Enforcement knocking on your door which could leave you ££££££££££££'s in financial loss.
Starting the works without the necessary certification such as planning permission or obtaining a certificate of lawfulness is the whole responsibility of the homeowner and no one else. For a sake of £103 for a certificate of lawfulness and waiting 8 weeks you will get a planner within the council checking the design for compliance and completing all the background checks on the property. Same if the design needs planning the only difference is paying £206 and waiting 8 weeks for a decision.
10. We can double up on timbers instead of using steels.
No, the engineer has designed the works using steel beams, please follow the drawings and no shortcuts, please! Timber does not have the same properties as stainless steel weighing up to 90KG per meter, so stick to the drawings no ifs or buts........
Builders always call in and ask for this to happen as the most common reason is they more likely have not priced the job up with the steels and are trying to cut the cost down. Steels cost money and for the builder to surprise the homeowner and ask for another £3000+vat plus is a bit embarrassing which the homeowner will not buy. Timber is cheaper than steel beams and columns, it is easier to work with and alter on site.
11. We can raise the ridge height if we have not got enough head-height.
No the ridge of the house cannot be raised, this is not allowed under permitted development or very rarely allowed if obtaining planning permission as it changes the street scene in the council's eyes.
Do not listen to any builders that have the opinion to raise the ridge or extend out further. If any changes are made with extending out further or raising any ridge line of the current roof then the only person at risk will be the homeowner, they will be in breach of planning control.
12. Not paying for building control.
If the builders include this within their services to you then please check that your application has been registered as in some cases not even inspectors have been out on-site to carry out the inspections leaving your final build in jeopardy of receiving a final completion certitifcate.
Not paying for a building control service can save the builder around £1000+vat so it's big money saved, again this has happened on a handful of occasions last year and it has not been a pleasant experience for the homeowner.
13. Ordering and guessing Steel Beam design without calculations.
No builder on planet earth can order, purchase or install any steel beams or columns without the engineering drawings which include calculations of steel connection detailing. This is the most common rule that everyone including builders knows. Always the builder's guesswork is wrong and when building control asks for the engineering calculations for the builder's works the engineer will come up with a different solution which will be a nightmare for the homeowner to dismantle the build to make it all work, again all wasting money and time from the negligence from the builders rush rush approach.
Builders may think they can get away with not being asked by the inspectors for the engineering calculations. Engineering calculations cost money so some builders avoid hiring the engineer knowing that it will cost around £100+vat per beam or column element which can save £££££'s. In the end, everything is found out so get the calculations made and prepared and pay the money.
14. Charging more money for the job after receiving the structural design.
A Good builder when pricing up the job will ask for the Structural calculations so that all elements are on the drawings for pricing, beam sizes connection details everything!
No builder can price a job accurately with half the design on the table. This is bad practice and very unprofessional. How can the homeowner receive a quote from a chosen builder for say £40,000 for a rear single-storey extension and then compare it with other quotes from other builders then to find out 1/3 way into the project that their builder is demanding more money after realising that a new design for structurals is presented to them or in some cases the build starts and then the builder realises that there are no steel sizes on the drawings? panic stations the builder then makes up excuses that the calculations should be included within the design non knowing the service agreement of the client and the architect. Engineering calculations are paid for separately by the homeowner the structural design is carried out by an experienced engineer and not by the architect. If no beam sizes or connection details are presented on the drawings then the client will need to get these in place well ahead of starting any project as the design will need to be checked for compliance by the building inspector prior to works starting or purchase of materials. If the builder comes up with a lame excuse of no beam sizes on the drawings then this is the builder's fault for not highlighting this to the novice homeowner who does not understand the process.
If you experience any of the above from your builder then seek advice from the
the building control department you are using, your allocated inspector will see
that your project will be carried out in a reasonable fashion without any
shortcuts are taken, they have seen all the tricks and know where to look.
London Building control inspectors are a phone call away and usually carry out site inspections within 24 hours of booking an appointment.
We hope you found this article useful to give you a small insight into what is involved in these cases. doing the homework first will save you £££££'s in the event of a surprise which you cannot carry out. Feel free to call our team for a free consultation over the phone and we will be more than happy to assist you on any technical matters. Regards John. D.