EVEREST HOME `IMPROVEMENTS` part 2

TWO

“WORK COMMENCEMENT DATE COMES…AND GOES.”

On the 12th of May 2017 we received a letter from Mr Stuart Timbers who at the time was the National Processing and Operational Manager Conservatory and Driveway Division. What a bloody mouthful that is! I say “at the time” because I have never had any dealings with the bloke so I have no idea if he still works for EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS or not any more. Seems a little silly to be wondering if someone still works for a company after just two years have passed but this will not seem so silly later on in the factual disclosure. Anyway, the letter was to confirm our new conservatory was ready to commence in to manufacture and that our “contract” had been passed to their installation team to progress. If we had not been contacted already then someone would be in touch in the next couple of days to confirm installation dates. He gave me the name of our `personal point of contact` Nancy, who was a Customer Service Administrator and whose job it would be to “oversee our contract through both the manufacture and the installation process”. The telephone number was given for contacting our installation team as well as an email address and we were told to simply quote our customer reference number. Finally, Nancy would be in touch to discuss “mutually convenient installation dates” with us.

The 18th of May 2017 saw the arrival of another letter, this time from Nancy. We had spoken on the telephone and the letter was to confirm the dates that had been “mutually arranged”. Now something that you need to pick up on right away if you are unfortunate enough NOT to learn from the VERY EXPENSIVE mistakes of the likes of me and MANY OTHER VICTIMS OF EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS is that they don’t like to commit to timings. Once they have your deposit they know you are stuck and essentially they can behave any way they like. Here is the letter…

You will note the date is a “PROVISIONAL” date . EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS love the word PROVISIONAL and here is why. The meaning taken from the Oxford English Dictionary is… “arranged for the present time only and likely to be changed in the future..” So the physical works can be commenced whenever EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS choose however the delivery of the conservatory is seemingly not subject to such “PROVISIONAL” dates as they need it out of their way. As Nancy says, she will be in touch to advise of the EXACT date of the week commencing 19th June 2017 and the TIME. Next Nancy throws the terms and conditions at you that you stupidly signed. Interestingly it is about stage payments however the terms and conditions clearly state… 3 Payments. 3.1 The contract price is payable in the following stages. 3.1(i) The deposit shown on the purchase agreement-with the order. 3.1.(ii) Where the total order value exceeds £20,000-50% of the balance when you are notified by us that the goods are ready for installation and 3.1.(iii) The balance on completion of the installation. So where do the stage payments come from? Now I have taken this up with EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS and according to their legal guy (I’ll introduce you to him later on), they essentially have the right to ask for payments as and when they see fit. So as that part of the terms and conditions benefits and safeguards the consumer, that part does not apply. This next bit definitely does apply though and I think you will figure out why…5.1 The installation target period quoted overleaf is that anticipated at the date of this agreement. This is an estimate and not a term of the agreement. Just so you are aware of the target installation date is quoted as being between 13 and 14 weeks. 13 to 14 WEEKS, let that sink in when I tell you that it is the 5th of August 2019 and it is still NOT FINISHED. The next bullet point is telling me that after delivery a team member will be in touch to arrange the erection of the conservatory and finally I am given the name and number of the Project Manager, I took this to be the guy who would be making sure it all ran smoothly, but then isn’t that the job of Nancy? Maybe this is where they got confused.

So the 5th of June came and went and we were told work would commence on the base for the conservatory on the 7th. The works did indeed start on the 7th of June 2017 but it was short lived. On the 8th we had another letter from Nancy…

So now EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS are putting up their steel umbrella letting me know that there is a possibility that the delivery may not actually arrive but that they cannot be held accountable if this is the case. This was another combat indicator that I missed. A company that will not give definite dates an will not be held accountable if things are not delivered on time. One thing that they are sure of though, that you WILL be paying the amounts they say when they say it contrary to their own terms and conditions previously shown.

Hang on a minute, what is that? VAT? But I was told there would not be any VAT by MARK CONNOLLY the salesman. That is the amount that I was told would not be charged as it was being built specifically for a disabled person. I will have to address that but meanwhile, where the bloody hell is the builder? I’ll get a hold of Anthony, my “Project manager”. “Hi George Wayne will not be with you today as he has been sick overnight he will be back on Monday regards Anthony”. One days work, well, EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS know the timescale. I am sure it will be ok. Not best pleased about having to ask where the workforce are though, common courtesy is to let me know. This wouldn’t be the only time that I had to chase the workforce whereabouts. Moving across to the actual conservatory. Some alterations to the plans have been made which has removed a roof vent but that is not an issue, one thing that EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS did not tell us though, is that the Gallows brackets for holding the box gutter up, will not be available for the build. The manufacturers inform EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS of this on the 9th of June 2017. The builder has only been there a day so they could have asked us if they wanted us to proceed or to wait until they had all the bits of the jigsaw but instead they chose to ignore the option and crack on anyway.

The conservatory base is due for completion on the 29th June 2017 however on the 26th of June I get this message from Anthony….”Hi George Wayne has got a water pump issue with his van he is hoping to get it sorted this morning so he will be late on site today regards Anthony” Only now, knowing how little EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS care for their victims and indeed how flippant they are with regards to terms and conditions, contracts, timings etc, do I wonder if there were any actual problems and that the builder may have been pulled off to attend any other jobs, I will never know.

At this point if I knew then what I know now, I would have told them to fill it back in and go home.

So whilst this is all going on I am also trying to get the VAT charge removed as per what we told by the salesman MARK CONNOLLY. Anthony the “Project manager” is relaying my messages to the office as he knew who it had to go through, but things are slow to be replied to. Meanwhile, 3rd of August and Anthony sends me this…“Hi George sorry for the late reply I have seen Wayne today and he had told me he will with you this Saturday and Sunday to complete your base works ready so we can then start putting it up regards Anthony” So much for being complete on the 29th June then!

On the 13th July the VAT relief forms are received by EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS and on the 19th of July 2017 I am told this DOES NOT qualify for the VAT relief I was promised by MARK CONNOLLY. Now it is abundantly clear that we were told this so that we would go from our idea of a covered walkway to the conservatory. On the 26th of July I request the forms be sent back to me so I can give them to MARK CONNOLLY to look over. This farce goes on well in to August where I am asked for …“proof/certificate of disability from customer Pas, In the form of a Disability Living Allowance letter/Disabled Parking Badge etc…” Back to the conservatory…The fitters come and put the front up and then the roof, oh hang on a minute, the roof. The roof is too BIG, yep you read it right, after all the delays in getting the base built, the roof is too big for it. So what to do? The builder has actually built the base EXACTLY to the plan give or take a few millimetres so how can the roof be too big? By too big I mean A FOOT too big. It turns out that MARK CONNOLLY potentially didn’t do something on the computer which has put everything out. So, make a new roof or extend the base? Well obviously I want the base to be the correct size for the structure so get that sorted. Work recommences on altering the base around the 31st July 2017 after the fitters have removed all of the frames and glass. Finally after a load of buggering about, the conservatory goes up and on the 11th of August I am asked for a cheque for the sum of £17,386.80 which STUPIDLY I PAY. I paid because I didn’t want to be being chased for money but what I didn’t realise was that there were a couple of bits of glass missing from the roof and had not even figured in to the whole build that there was no door separating the garage from the conservatory and the rest of the house. There was also a wooden prop holding the box gutter up but the fitters told me that would be for a couple of days whilst the parts came in. Needless to say, it wasn’t a couple of days.

Our 13 to 14 WEEK build isn’t going so well. We have glass missing from the roof, wooden prop holding up the box gutter, no door to the garage, the walls have yet to be dry-lined and plastered and the floor is still awaiting screed. That’s before we start looking at electrics and heating On the 1st of September I ask where the bloody door is and unsurprisingly it hadn’t even been ordered! Anyway, that’s enough for this part. I hope that you are starting to see why I am posting this nightmare, a nightmare that I am still living with no actual end in sight at present.

Next time, “A new guy brings new hope.”

EVEREST HOME `IMPROVEMENTS`

I want to start by saying that when I say EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS, I use the word IMPROVEMENTS simply because it is the name of the company but would suggest the word IMPROVEMENTS be used loosely, by loosely I mean looser than a well used prostitutes parts loose. As such I have decided to write a little “book” about my on going experience with EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS. I say “book” because the saga has so far been going on for over TWO YEARS! That’s right, in TWO YEARS EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS have been both unable and (more worryingly) UNWILLING to complete the `conservatory` that I have so far paid them just shy of FORTY THOUSAND POUNDS for. So, let us start this “book” and I will take you on a journey from the measuring stages right through to where we are now. With luck, before we finish, you, the reader, will have shared the link to this “book” and it’s various chapters with everyone you know or at least told everyone you know not to enter in to any kind of `contract` with EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS so that no one else gets caught out and taken for a VERY EXPENSIVE ride such as I. Here we go then…

ONE.

“ OFFER ACCEPTED AND A NEW BUILDING CONTRACT”

In July of 2011 I was seriously injured in a road traffic collision, there were many injuries which those who have read my diary and the page about me will already know about, but the injury that causes the most problem is my being paralysed from the chest down. Obviously you can’t just sit back and let the world crack on without you so over the course of six years whilst my legal case for compensation was going on, I had to learn to deal with the problems resulting in the collision. This was not easy and indeed is still challenging to this day but each day, week or month you learn to accomplish or deal with something else. Once the long slog of fighting for compensation for my injuries was completed I had to find a house that offered the basis of suitability for my day to day needs and then obtain quotes for the relevant works to be completed to make the whole house work for me. Having looked at several and getting to the completion stage on one which only fell through because the seller got greedy and went back on just about everything she had included on the sale. This should have been the warning triangle to show that people were going to view me as a soft touch, a ‘crippled cash cow’ if you will but I thought it was just a greedy old lady and forgot about it. Anyway, we did find a house and we went to view it on the 23rd of February 2017. It was over the budget I had laid down and it was too big if the truth be known, but taking these two factors out, (two quite big factors to be fair), the house ticked ALL of the boxes and some that had been considered but were looking unlikely. On the 26th of February 2017, just three days later, we had a second viewing which the sellers kindly let us do despite it being a Sunday, this time we took the children and some help to get me up the stairs and after a good look but this time looking at the layout for me and the positioning of a lift etc, we decided to put in an offer on the house.

The offer decision came early on the Monday morning, I had gone in quite a bit less than the asking but it was a cash sale so I thought I would chance my arm. I had had a feeling that the offer would be rejected but now I had to hope that I had not insulted the sellers. We wanted this house, it was not where we had wanted to be as it was out of town and in the lanes, neither of which were anywhere close to ideal. To go in to town which I did daily for fresh air, I would have to drive and I would have to use my manual chair. How would I get on with that if my wrists or shoulders were to give me the grief they so often did. What about the kids, they could not simply wander in to town to meet with their friends as the lanes were potentially a bit dangerous for them to be wandering around in. We started to almost put problems in the way but we kept coming back with solutions for all of them so I decided to up the offer. Would they be happier with the offer? Would they think to push me for more to see how much I wanted it? If they did, would the devil on my shoulder just say “Bollocks, 2nd place is the first loser, just do it already!” I called the estate agent and she informed me right away that the seller had received an offer for full asking price but had not responded to it as they knew I was going to let them know if I would submit another offer or forget about it. I submitted the offer, reminded the estate agent the purchase would be cash and put the phone down. Literally five minutes passed when the call came from the estate agent. Five minutes is not a long time to consider an offer, “It’ll be a no” I kept thinking in my head. “Five minutes isn’t long enough to seriously consider the offer, it’s a no”. I waited with the phone to my ear having said “Hello” but the reply seemed to take for ever… “I have spoken to the vendors and they have told me to let you know that they have an offer for the full asking price…” that’s that then, I was waiting for the agent to ask if I wanted to offer the same of above the offer of full asking. The agent continued “…however this would involve them being in a chain and as such they would like me to tell you that they accept your offer.” Holy shitballs, we got it, we got the house! Right then, now we have to get contractors in to measure up and cost for the various works to be carried out. I wonder if we could be so bold as to ask for permission for the contractors to visit the house whilst the searches and other legal bits are being done? Is that taking the piss? Is this one of those times that `Don’t ask, don’t know` doesn’t count?

My Wife actually trained at the same gymnasium as the Gentleman seller and whilst on the exercise bikes shortly after the acceptance of the offer, he asked if we had many adaptions to do to the house in order for it to be fully accessible and suitable for me. She did say that there was quite a bit to do and he very kindly asked if it would help for contractors to visit and measure up so that they could commence work immediately that the house purchase was complete. This was exactly what we were hoping to be able to do and was going to ask permission for but to be offered was simply unbelievable. We did of course take him up on his offer and set about finding the contractors required for the works. One of the things I needed was for a wider door to be fitted at the rear entrance to the house so I could get in and out and so on the 8th of March I attended the house for a quick measure up with my friend who I served with in the military but who was then working for EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS as a sales representative.  Here I spoke to him about the idea of a walkway to link the house and garage, more about that now. The house has a very large garage adjacent to the house. This offered the ability for me to be able to get in and out of the car in the bad weather, in the dry. I had an idea of a covered walkway to go from the back door of the house to the garage side door and thought of ways it could be done relatively inexpensively. One day I was having lunch with the ex-military friend I spoke of earlier and we were talking about the various works required on the house we were buying. I mentioned the covered walkway again. He said that it may be something that EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS could quote for. He did tell me that it was not his department that he worked for, he was a rep for the windows side of things but he would ask his colleague MARK CONNOLY if he could meet, run through my idea and quote. We agreed to this out of interest and to be able to dismiss the idea if that is how we decided to go.

I explained to MARK CONNOLLY, formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS what I had in mind and he went with my idea, that was until he told me that the covered walkway was a bit of a waste of time and money which would not impress future purchasers, when I could actually have a covered area to get to the garage but also a usable room by purchasing an EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS conservatory. MARK CONNOLLY, formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS went on to explain how much value would be added to the house. He explained that you take the price paid for the house and divide that price by the number of rooms the house had. This gave you the price per room. So the added `conservatory` would give an extra room and therefore that would add that price to the house. I was still working on my original idea of the covered walkway to be honest but then MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS said he would measure up and give some figures for us to consider and so this is what MARK CONNOLLY did. Once the measurements were taken, and I had thanked the owners of the house for allowing us to come to the house to take measurements and surveys of the drainage, myself and MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS made our way back to the bungalow which we were living in. Here the design laptop came out and MARK CONNOLLY designed a conservatory.

MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS did have a few problems with the deign as the computer would not allow him to put a standard roof on and insisted that it had `hip` type ends to the roof where it joined the house and the garage but he said that it was a glitch and he would get it sorted out. I referred to the covered walkway idea several more times but MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS said that he could discount glass and that a glass front looking out to the garden would be much more pleasing to the eye than a block wall with a window and how we could sit in the evenings and enjoy the quiet whilst reading or just sitting. Finally MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS told me that as it was being specifically built for me as a disabled person, to transit between my house and my garage to allow me to get in  to my car in the dry and relative warmth in the winter, I could instantly knock around £7,500 off of the total build as it would qualify for VAT exemption. This did make it financially viable now to have the conservatory, knowing that it would be £7,500 cheaper than the given amount, the total being £43,467. This is a substantial amount of money but MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS had told us of how good the glass and frames were. He said of how secure the door locking system was and that the tag line “FIT THE BEST” was not just a gimmick. He informed us that once the lead time expired which was where the manufacture of the frames etc would happen, the actual works would start and that the estimated time for completion would be 12 to 14 weeks. This was written also in the contract. This would mean that it would be finished and ready for use by the summer of 2017.

MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS came to our bungalow on the 21st of April 2017 as we had sent a scan to head office of a letter from the solicitor to say that the contracts had been signed for the purchase of the house and essentially we were legally committed to the completion, MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS took the cheque for the deposit of £6,520. Whilst there we had to sign other documents, the plans etc which would be the `contract` between us and EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS. One of the ones we had to sign was what they call a “Knock through waiver”. This I was told by MARK CONNOLLY formerly of EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS was to basically stop the need to ask for planning permission and building regs. It was a “standard” document by all accounts and so I signed it. THAT was the SECOND BIGGEST MISTAKE I made with regards to EVEREST HOME IMPROVEMENTS but by no means the ONLY TWO MISTAKES.

Next time, “Work commencement date comes…and goes”