28th December 2018 at 12:16 #5050
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 #5079
Have you seen the thread about Leighton Grove below?3rd February 2019 at 18:27 #5095
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 #5143
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…
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