So the last time we did a major structural refurb was back in 2014. What an experience. I figured, 8 years on and many cosmetic projects later, maybe it’s time to embark on another structural refurb! Since this one is our own house, there wouldn’t be too much to risk involved. Cue the birth of #projectegerton.
Well - let me tell you a story….Let’s rewind back to April 2022.
We had plans ready to go and interviewed about 4 builders. Only 2 of them got to back to us with a quote. (This was when labour and materials were at peak heights).
We chose a builder that was recommended from a friend who could start within 2 months. We were off to a flying start in June 2022 and I was so hopeful it would stick to schedule. We had lots of trades on site and lots of materials which gave us real confidence that it would be a successful project.
However we very quickly realized that after the first eight weeks things started to slow down. Between availability of materials, cost of materials, availability of skilled labour (especially plumbers), quality of work started to become questionable at this stage. On top of this, the schedule of works were becoming more and more delayed and we were going into winter with lots of rain. Trades will come in for the week and then not returning the next week and this was a telltale sign that something was not going right.
THE UGLY We got to the 75% mark of our build and we could see things starting to go wrong. Sub contractors wouldn’t work past a week because they weren’t getting paid! Ta-dah! We got to the 90% mark and the builder decided to shut off communication and close his company! Cue the whole drama with solicitors. Very luckily, we weren’t burnt financially thanks to stage gate payments. We did however had to use some of the budget allocated to the final stage gate to pay the trades that helped us get the project over the finish line.
So what's the moral of the story?
The biggest learning out of this was to trust your own gut instinct. I think when I knew that there were little things just weren't going right we should nip them in the butt a lot earlier but we also had this trust with the builder that things would come good again.
But the biggest saviour where the clauses in the building contract that we set out from the beginning Andrew's many years have experience with commercial contracts and key customers became absolutely key in adding clauses in case of the worst case scenario which we hoped we never had to use but it turns out we did. It turns out these causes what absolutely instrumental or we would have had our fingers really burnt.
Although this builder was recommended to us through a really good mutual friend and due diligence was done on the company in hindsight we probably should have asked more questions upfront before commencing the project.
We were really lucky that we had our own team waiting in the wings to help us finish the cosmetic and interior fit out which meant the delays were not as bad given the circumstances however it did mean there was more work involved from us in order to get it to the quality of workmanship that we desired.
All in all I'm so happy that this project is now completed and it's now a fantastic house to live in. Give it a while before I give another project like this ago though…