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.