28th December 2018 at 12:16 #5050AK1Participant
I have received an estimate from Camden for external building work to my property, under the Better Homes project, the work is due to start in early 2019. My estimate is for £34,000, which was arrived at after a cursory external inspection (I was not informed that this would be happening and was not present). A contractor has now been appointed and I have been told at Consultation meetings that the final list of work to be done and therefore the final cost will be decided once scaffolding goes up and a proper survey takes place. Obviously I am concerned by this apparent ad-hoc approach, at the lack of any control I have over what work may be carried out, how the work is done and the cost.
1) Does anyone else have a similar experience or have any advice they can give me?
2) I have been advised to appoint my own surveyor who can shadow Camden and act in my interests. If I do, how can my own surveyor successfully challenge Camden’s findings? Can anyone suggest a surveyor they have used?23rd January 2019 at 21:39 #5079Leighton GroveParticipant
Have you seen the thread about Leighton Grove below?3rd February 2019 at 18:27 #5095MartinParticipant
To begin with – You’re absolutely right to be concerned.
I’ve just been through a similar renovation (major works RPK/48 and RPK/9). The original quote and the tender was around 9.000 for my flat back in 2016. 3 years later my leaseholder account is now showing that I’m 24.000 in debt and Camden’s accounting department has just issued Final warning relating to 2 unpaid invoices which includes the normal threats around forfeiture of your leashold agreement etc. If I should believe the numbers showing on my account, they’ve run over the initial budget with roughly 160% (9K -> 24K).
From the start, I was trying to get information around the proposed works. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I managed to get detailed imtemized spreadsheets from the Contract Manager showing what they planned to address as part of the contract. One of the first things I noticed when reviewing the costs of the planned work was that only around 30% went to real tangiable improvements to the property, 70% was spent on building access, suspension of parking bays and overhead costs etc. I raised these concerns with the Contract Manager as well as Leaseholder Services, but they didn’t listen. I then went on to file a complaint with Camden’s complaints team, and managed to get a response that partially addressed my concerns. Since then, there has been no further information beyond the yearly service charge pack including invoices. I’m currently refusing to pay the invoices on the basis that the landlord has not showed me any evidence of the expenses they claim they’ve incurred (I’ve made multiple requests to review their accounts to no avail).
I’m certainly no expert after this, but would give the following advice;
1. Try to influence the landlord before they’ve committed to any work. Once they’ve incurred expenses, it’s less likely you’ll be able to do anything about it
2. Seek independent advice; it’s important you understand your rights as a leaseholder as well as Camden’s obligations as landlord. This will help you understand what your options are at each stage of the process
3. Establish contact with the Contract Manager in the Capital Services team, and send requests for updates on a regular basis
4. Try to establish what the process is for the landlord to notify the leaseholder of additional / unplanned costs associated with the work. I didn’t receive any information at all indicating that the works was exceeding the planned costs, and now I’m expected to pay 160% more than I thought I would have to
You’re absolutely right to be concerned about the ad-hoc approach. The problem is that the contractor will be awarded the contract based on a indicative list of work items following the tender process. They know that additional things will be discovered as they start the work, and they’ll be able to run up the bill later on, so they’re fine to provide a low price on the first quote. Ideally the landlord should be required to put all additional work out for tender, and not just the original scope.
Please contact me privately if you’d like me to share some of my letters that I’ve sent. I just sent a fresh one to Camden’s complaints team with a long list of complaints that I have. This is in preparation for going to the Tribunal as I’d like to have a record showing that I’ve done more than what should be expected of a normal citizen.15th February 2019 at 21:55 #5143IMDParticipant
My street property was subject to external works in 2014. I had the same estimate as you of £34000. I was told at consultation that this was a generic estimate and not specific to my property. Camden said that my bill would be much lower and that I would get a more accurate estimate when scaffolding went up. I never received the revised estimate.
To cut a very long story short, what was supposed to be a 10 week job took 2 years.The quality of the workmanship was the worst I have ever seen. I documented the whole job with a daily diary and hundreds of photographs.I made my first complaint the day that the works started.
Trying to get Camden and Lakehouse to perform properly was like having a second job. It took up all of my spare time. Over the next 4 years Camden continually lied, bullied, threatened and intimidated me. Camden organised a totally crooked survey of the works which found the job to be ‘without fault’.
I had meetings with numerous Camden officials, gave a deputation to the Housing Scrutiny Committee, filed several freedom of information requests and had my MPs (both Frank Dobson and Kier Starmer) write to Camden on my behalf.
In the end, after 4 years of fighting, Camden finally referred me to Dispute Resolution. This resulted in another survey taking place which found fault with every aspect of the job. My half of the bill was reduced from £12000 to £3000.
I wrote to Georgia Gould asking why the two survey’s findings were so contradictory and asking for an apology for the behaviour of the Camden officers involved. Ms Goulds secretary contacted me and said that the best way forward would be a formal complaint which would take about a month. That was 6 months ago and no answer has been sent despite my chasing Camden for it several times.
My advise is as follows:
1) Don’t let work start until you have a revised survey which is fully itemised and costed.
2) Document the work with photographs and a diary (I was told by Dispute Resolution that without this evidence, I would not have had a case).
3) If and when the works go wrong and costs spiral, gather as much information as possible, forget about tribunal as they are pretty toothless and push for Dispute Resolution as soon as possible. The Dispute Resolution officer that was appointed to me was the only honest person that I came across during the whole sorry affair.
4) Be prepared for a battle.
Sorry I can’t be more positive, it is very depressing to hear that the £34000 estimates are still being handed out. Clearly nothing has changed!
All the best and good luck…12th October 2019 at 17:36 #5353echoParticipant
this is very depressing and our estar has just received estimates of £30000.
We are questioning the need for quite such extensive repairs.
Interesting to read of your very time consuming and no doubt stressful process.
Please contact me as we need advice.
We are at the start of this!
DF26th October 2019 at 22:09 #5357
The estate were we live (Camelot House) is included in the Better Home programmes starting this year and we are trying to get more info from the Council which is proving very difficult. Some of the costs they are estimating are nonsense.
Anyone living here who wants to get together and challenge them?
Did anyone else manage to get a detailed cost break down list?
Service charge is increasing rapidly as well and it all seems very fishy..
GB27th October 2019 at 21:53 #5359jstokelParticipant
We too have exactly the same issue. Huge bill (£34000) and most of it estimates even after 1 year and the contractors coming round to clarify works.
When we ask the council for specifics and why the costs are so high we are met with guarded answers or simply silence.
Our building has been left in a shocking state of disrepair over the past few years.
When we have asked the council to be specific about the works they can’t give us answer.
We have spoken to our MP and have a councillor involved. Sadly it seems they are giving everyone the exact same treatment.
Our service charge has also increased by £200 this year but they can’t give us specifics on why.
We have asked for a detailed break down of the costs from the council for exactly one year one year now. Still haven’t for one.
This process is shocking. We are refusing to pay for anything until they can justify the works and give us full costings
Maybe a joint effort is the best course of action. They seem to be doing this to all leaseholder.
JS28th October 2019 at 13:26 #5362
Is this something that can be discussed at he next forum? Maybe we can all meet there and join forces..
GB28th October 2019 at 13:26 #5363
Is this something that can be discussed at he next forum? Maybe we can all meet there and join forces..
GB28th October 2019 at 17:12 #5364Peter WrightParticipant
Thanks for the comments.
Our next Forum is on Tuesday, 19th November and I have no problem with discussing repairs and works then, and will explore getting an officer.
I would just add to the comments to date.
If you are in a street property, keep an eye on the possibility of enfranchising and taking over the freehold if you can as soon as Camden talks of doping expensive major works. There are rules on how you do this; it has traditionally only been possible if all the flats are leasehold. But, if you have a tenant minority and they agree, Camden might too. The tenants would remain tenants of Camden Council which would have a lease on their flats. So you would not necessarily escape Camden completely, but you would be in charge so long as you are supported by a leaseholder majority. For the tenants, they are unlikely to be worse off, and dealing with you is likely to be better.
If you are in a larger property with a number of leaseholders, consider setting up a Recognised Tenants Association; it makes it easier to employ a surveyor (costs you but very much worthwhile), and gives the surveyor legal rights to see Camden documents which he can then interpret for you. No more prevarication; he sees the paperwork.
Yes, doing anything will take lots of your free time, but if it works you will not be paying Camden top rates for poor work, and this will boost the value of your homes as and when you come to sell.
Chair Camden Leaseholders Forum29th October 2019 at 21:11 #5365ebettaneyParticipant
I too have an outrageous major works estimate for works which are about to start and after reading all the comments on this forum am concerned about the quality of the work and whether the actual cost will turn out to be even more.
I am the leaseholder for a street property (a conversion with 3 flats where 2 are with private leaseholders). Can anyone provide more information on purchasing the freehold? I have no idea how much this might cost or how to go about this. If anyone has tried this I’d love to hear your experiences.
Elaine Bettaney7th November 2019 at 19:06 #5375billmurrayParticipant
Here at Millman Place WC1 we are about to be hit again by Camden’s Major Works steamroller. Peter Wright makes useful points above about employing a surveyor. We have done this in the past to a limited extent. Obviously we should be organising ourselves to pool this service, but this is beyond our capabilities. It is not inexpensive and one could perhaps end up paying even higher costs. Does anyone have any advice or surveyor recommendations?16th September 2020 at 07:13 #5584CarolynMParticipant
With not a little trepidation I am about to embark on an external works programme for a street property. There are five flats in the two houses involved, I am the only leaseholder in my house so liable for a proportion of cost. I have asked for a very detailed cost breakdown, and have had a long call with two people at camden going through line by line and also establishing that they will communicate with me during the works if the spec/costs change. But having read this thread I am going to keep them on a tight leash. One issue I have already raised is that in their “overheads” breakdown they included a sum of £6k to pay for use of a parking space for a site office for four months. This money of course goes back to camden – and seems excessively high. Anyone else heard of this type of charge? And is there any way the “site office” can sit in the front garden rather than in a parking space?16th September 2020 at 07:45 #5588Leighton GroveParticipant
My advice would be to stay on top Camden, scrutinise everything, don’t assume they’re acting in good faith, or hat they’ve read your lease.
The whole system feels like it’s wide open to abuse. Google Lakehouse – a preferred contractor, from Essex, that Camden told me they sued in one round of Better Homes, and then awarded multimillion pound contact o in the next round. Lakehouse have a record in Kensington and Hackney hat should have caused the whole leaseholder major works.They went bankrupt leaving workers unpaid…
Some of my experiences:
Fire Safety work relatively recently – they did work that they had no right to do under the lease. Pushing back for a year on the lease issue led to an admission. The bill is ‘on hold’. Next step is to take the admission and force them to reduce or reverse the bill.
Huge major works bill for tens of thousands – they admitted that they ‘estimated’ all the possible work that could be done on he ‘archetype’ of building my flat was in and added a huge profit and 20% contingency. My building (a terraced house) didn’t even have some of he areas (like communal areas) that they planed to do work on.The bill came down to just a few grand in the end but I had to hire my own surveyor and get a report and costing of my own.
A very old major works bill- they dragged out billing for 6 years then tried to cut a deal at the 6 year mark.16th September 2020 at 09:43 #5589
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