Thursday, 1 September 2016


I'm writing this from a little town in the South of Italy.  No, BH is not finished.  Yes, we chose to run away from it all for a bit!  But just look:

You couldn't expect me to stay in UK the whole summer knowing this was waiting for us!

A week and a half before we left, I sat down with the two teams working on BH because, even having been friends with each other for more than ten years, they were both complaining that they'd be better off having the site to themselves.  We all agreed that the builders would stay on site and finish all they could for 3 days, then the floorboard guys would come back in on Monday and have a week to finish their job so they could be paid in full before we left for Italy.  Everyone was happy with this approach and, despite the project not being 100% finished, I was happy enough with the progress over the 3 days that I gave our builder the bulk of his final payment and my blessing to take some time on holiday in Bulgaria with his family while the floorboards were done.  Hmm!  Anyone recognise this scenario yet?!

Well, maybe not, as this doesn't play out at all as I would have expected!  Monday comes around and my builder has started his drive across Europe and as much as I really, really didn't want to disturb him on his time off, I didn't know what to do when it turned out there was no sign of his floorboard friends on site by lunchtime and after a few hours of texts and leaving messages, I was none the wiser as to why.

When the floorboard boss finally phones he tells me his team have left UK for their holidays and, despite having received £2000 (more than generous for the work completed to date), they won't come back on site unless I pay them in advance the rest of the money for the full job!

Best laid plans and all that!  I thought I had everyone lined up perfectly, but instead, I was left with no-one on site.  Worse than that, I was kicking myself that, once again, I had let myself be cajoled into giving tradesmen more money than I wanted to.  On top of all that, I had let my guard down, once again, and been charmed by a builder into believing I could count on him to look after my best interests, because while this is going on, a little voice says, did your builder leave for his holiday, with your money in his pocket, knowing the other team, with your money in their pocket, that he brought to you, had no intention of being on site?  Jeez, was I still as naive as ever even after all this time on all these projects?

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.  I was reassured somewhat when my builder was so incensed by the betrayal of his so-called friend that he said he was going to come off the German motorway he was on at the next exit and start back to the UK in order to confront him and put things right (of course I told him he better not even think about stopping his holiday with his family for this mess).  More conclusively in terms of helping me know who I could count on, 2 days later, the bulk of the money given to the floorboards guy came, via the builder's account, back into mine, along with a very bitter text from the floorboards guy leaving me in no doubt as to the pressure he'd been put under by our mutual builder friend!  I would never have imagined I'd get my money back!  Given the amount of time they had spent on site and petrol and materials, they are seriously out of pocket now!

Best quote of this whole thing came from my builder:
"I leave you alone with the site for 6 hours...!"

So, onwards and upwards!  My builder is firmly in my good books, (though I am still somewhat perplexed as to the leverage he has!) and we're now onto our third company for the floorboards (I don't think I shared with you the story of the local company I originally booked, who came out with so much racist rubbish in the week leading up to their starting that I told them to take a hike!).  Fingers crossed, we'll return from Italy in a couple of weeks to find the house full of beautiful, stained and varnished floorboards.  Is it too much to get my hopes up?  What could possibly go wrong now?! Ha ha ha!

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