Saturday, 14 February 2009

St Valentine's Day Massacre

Towards the end of 2005 the builder had finished, at last. We had a short break in Rome and then started to get on with decorating the cottage, from top to bottom. Now that we had the cottage laid out as we wanted, it was time to think about updating the burglar alarm. The concrete and asbestos garage had been replaced by a brick built garage with a slate roof, the outbuilding which had holes in the roof had been replaced with a much smaller double glazed conservatory and the large bathroom had been converted into a smaller bathroom and an en suite shower room. The old burglar alarm consisted of a large control panel in the hall containing an elastic band and a piece of string plus three sensors. Discretion did not come into it. The control panel was obvious the minute you were through the front door. So we got an estimate the for job and thought about it and in late January 2006 I went ahead and booked the installation. The company suggested Tuesday February 14. It was a convenient day for me, but I had a few reservations about it. I had my evening class that night and it was St Valentine's Day but really it is just another day and my husband was going to be away anyway.

When the engineers had not arrived by 9.15 am I phoned up to ask where they were. One of the two, assigned to our job, had had to go to the dentist. They would be along shortly. After another hour's await and another phone call his mate arrived to make a start. About 12 noon I had the full compliment of two engineers. This job was supposed to take a day and a half. How were they going to achieve that when they had already lost half a day? Important things first, they had lunch then had a walk around the cottage with specification for the job. By now it was time for me to have my lunch. As I sat at the kitchen table with my sandwich I wondered why I could hear knocking coming from the water pipes. I went to see how they were getting on and found the mate with his finger stuck in the living room wall trying to stop the flow of water from the pipe that his partner in crime had drilled. In the ensuing panic they switched off everything that they could in the air ring cupboard and anything water related. They also attempted to drain every drop of water from our water works and all of the water out of our oil fired boiler, thinking that it was a gas boiler. Eventually they realised that they were out of their depth and phoned for a plumber who had time to fix the leak but nothing else. In the short time that the plumber was in the cottage the mate managed to drill into another water pipe in the cupboard under the stairs. The plumber had obviously only been asked to repair one leak and left pronto. By now panic had set in and the engineers were phoning their colleagues for re-enforcement. Eventually they found an engineer colleague who had done a bit of plumbing and was able to come to their assistance. He managed to fix the second leak then set about getting the central heating boiler started unaware that the whole system had been drained of water. So his initial attempts to get the boiler going just filled our central heating system with air. After switching back on what they thought was everything that they had switched off, they managed to get the central heating boiler going. But the system was full of air and every radiator needed bleeding. By the time that they left it was too late to think about going to my evening class. One day's work and what had they done? Drilled into two water pipes and laid a few cables.

Two days later when my husband got home at about 6 pm they were still crawling around the house trying to finish the job. One and a half days work had taken three days! As a result of the Valentine's Day fiasco we were draining air from our radiators for weeks before we managed to get the system clear of air, the central heating boiler kept switching itself off and the first time that I tried to have a shower I found that the water supply to it was still turned off. Luckily I had chosen to use the shower over the bath so was able to use water from the bath taps to wash the shower gel off me.

The next day was Friday and we were due to go away for the weekend, but before we did my husband phoned the burglar alarm company with the intention of speaking to the Managing Director only to be informed that he was currently on a cruise down the Nile.

26 comments:

Maggie May said...

I hope they paid compensation for all the work that went wrong and the time & expense to put it right.
A real nightmare company.
No wonder you remember it.
Hope this Valentine's Day will be different!

The Dotterel said...

Would burglars have been any worse?

Gilly said...

Hope that company is no longer in existence! What a nightmare! Did your husband ever reach the Managing Director??

jinksy said...

Love the story, but do I detect you have yet to come round to the point of laughing about it?!

Word verification of subha, should possibly have been sub ha ha ha...

Akelamalu said...

Oh boy, what a nightmare! Give us the name of the firm so we can be sure not to use them!

cheshire wife said...

MM - they had to pay for the central heating boiler to be serviced. It kept switching itself off because dirt had got into it.

The Dotterel - probably not.

Gilly - it is a local family run business. The MDs son came round and was very apologetic.

jinksy - it is funny now but it wasn't at the time.

Akelamalu - they are a local Chester company. I don't think that you are likely to come across them.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh my goodness... this is my worst nightmare... have a better day today PLEASE!!

blogthatmama said...

Nothing is more frustrating than bad workmanship in your own home. Terrible!

CG said...

WHAT a nightmare!!! I hope your Valentines Day this year was better!!

Sandi McBride said...

You know they told you you'd look back on this and laugh...hope you're laughing as hard as I am!
Sandi

French Fancy said...

You have made it sound very funny but I bet it was a first class nightmare at the time. How could they have drilled into the water pipes - I mean that is basic. Are they still in business?

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

What a fiasco! No hearts and flowers that day then. A x

Working mum said...

OMG! What a nightmare! What were they doing?

Luckily, I have a little man who did our house in one day and hid all the cables beautifully (knowing how fussy I am about that sort of thing) and putting very discrete little panels exactly where I had asked for them. Now I've read your post,I don't think I appreciated him enough.

Catharine Withenay said...

Oh my goodness! That sounds awful! How did they manage to get so much catastrophically wrong?

Ever since our first house sprang a leak (when it rained water poured in through the bedroom ceiling...) I've been quite paranoid about water damage and the plumbing.

Hope you can laugh about it all now!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Shoddy workmanship is something we seem to have to endure more and more these days. We shouldn't have to put up with it.

CJ xx

Susie Vereker said...

What a ridiculous farce! Sounds like a TV comedy with Frank Spencer. I don't suppose it was funny at the time, though.

cheshire wife said...

LWM - we had a better St Valentine's Day this year thank you.

blogthatmama - yes, I agree.

CG -yes this year was better thank you.

Sandi - we can laugh now.

FF - they drilled into water pipes because they did not use the pipe detecting gadget that they had.

SJA - yes and no.

WM - yes, good workmen should be appreciated.

CW - where water is concerned we do seem to be quite helpless. Luckily we had not got very far with the decorating when this
happened.

CJ - you are right, we should not have to put up with shoddy workmanship.

SV - no it wasn't funy at the time.

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

What a fantastic blog!
My hunny is from South London and we still have a kiddo in Portmouth and one in Barry Wales. I hope you don't mind if I follow?

Steady On
Reggie Girl

cheshire wife said...

MM&R - I don't mind if you follow. The more the merrier and thank you for your comment.

Vodka Mom said...

am I allowed to laugh yet??? Are you over it??

cheshire wife said...

VM - yes and yes.

Carol and Chris said...

I saw your comments on French Fancy's blog *waves to FF* and just thought I would pop over for a nosey. I'm very glad I did...that was a very funny post!! (although I'm sure it was not funny at all at the time!!). I can't help but feel that you might have been better off with the burglars :-)

C x

imbeingheldhostage said...

I couldn't even manage a smile or a snicker through this because of the plumbing problems we've been experiencing (more engineer silliness). I am bleeding my rads every day and have finally decided that we don't need the heat that bad and have reduced the time it's on by four hours already-- just to keep it from waking kids.

You don't need an alarm system, you could hide your valuables in all of the holey pipes you now have!

And THANK you so much for your answer to my question, I was beginning to think I was the only one who thinks there's a better way to spend money.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Oh boy, this is just one of those grin-and-bare-it moments. We've all been there with workmen, though probably not to this extent. Well done for the good humour! J x

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