Floor fitting - am I being taken for a ride???

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by Maria M, Nov 17, 2021.

  1. Maria M

    Maria M Member

    I hired a specialized flooring company to fit engineered wood flooring in 3 bedrooms, total of 37 square meters. The quote we agreed to was £2790 + VAT. (£670 to remove old floors, £2100 to lay down new), they estimated the job would take 4 days with 2 guys working. I was very clear about the objectives of the project: to ensure the floors are solid and don't creak/squeak, so we discussed an inspection of the subfloor and repair/replacement as needed at extra cost, which was TBD. This was really important, so I made sure i stated this in writing before the works started. Our house is built in 1950s and has standard pine boards subfloor nailed to joists with 6mm thinboard nailed over the pine boards.

    Once the guys started the job and removed the old floors they walked on the thinboard and said the subfloor appeared to be in good shape. They said they could remove the thinboard and lay floors directly on pine boards, but in their words "it didn't make sense". So they went on to fit the floors.

    At the end of day 2 they laid about 1/3 of the boards. This is where things got very complicated! When I came to inspect, I instantly discovered creaks in 3 different areas. The fitters said it's a problem with the subfloor and suggested taking floors up and fixing the subfloor. Since they secret nailed and glued every board, this would mean throwing all boards away (around £800 worth) and we couldn't replace them for weeks as they were out of stock.
    Hence we declined this option and asked for the remaining 2/3 of subfloor be inspected and repaired - thinboard lifted, pine boards screwed to joists etc. The cost was unclear as they didn't know what the condition of the subfloor was and how much time the repair would take, but said worst case it would be £2800, which is about £100 per remaining square meter! The subfloor turned out to be in very good shape, but they screwed down every board, repaired a few and replaced the thinboard. They also locally repaired the 3 squeaks by cutting out a few boards, screwing subfloor and fitting boards down. They ended up taking 4 extra to finish the job (not just because of the subfloor issues) and the sent a bill for extra £2750+VAT for subfloor repair plus £80 per hour+VAT estimate for repairing the creaking sections, so total extra cost would be circa £4000-4500 for the extra work in addition to the £2790 + VAT! It seems outrageous to me, especially since they took zero responsibility for the creaks and blamed me for not agreeing to do the work on the subfloor upfront, which is not even true. I'm incredibly upset as this is way more than I expected to pay for the floors, but I feel like we got trapped!

    Is this a fair cost for this kind of job? Am I being unreasonable? The house is in West London. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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    Last edited: Nov 18, 2021
  2. koolpc

    koolpc Screwfix Select

    Maria M likes this.
  3. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    Taken for a ride it feels. Sadly you didn’t agree costs before instructing additional works so pretty much opened a vein to be billed whatever they wanted.

    what you should have done is ask them to inspect the floor when they arrived and when they said it would be fine either record that statement or ask them to write it down and sign the same. From that point on they would be responsible for any defects in the floor.

    West London pricing too. That explains the detailed invoice etc
  4. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    Not much you can do now but try negotiate down , but they could stand firm and point to the contract you signed ! But in general always get a fixed price quote and try not add things to the list of work to be done after agreement , especially after the works have started, as prices will always be higher even with honest and reputable tradesmen.

    also, sometimes it’s better to let them choose their own supplier in line with what you want rather than supply materials yourself.
  5. Maria M

    Maria M Member

    Thank you for your reply. How can they charge whatever they want if I didn’t agree to it? Can I just not pay what I don’t think is fair? Like repairing defects in new flooring they laid?

  6. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

    Your mistake was accepting the risk and agreeing to the concept of extra cost if extra work was needed to the subfloor. The way round this (but it's hind sight) is to always try and agree a "design and build" contract. Specify an outcome and ask for fixed price quotes to achieve it any way the contractor wants. That way all the risk is passed to the contractor. You WILL pay for the risk, but at least you have fixed price at the start.

    This is often where disputes arise because the customer doesn't clearly understand who is carrying the risk for the project, and EVERY project has the risk of unforseen work.
  7. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    Sometimes we all take a hit, even with experience. As Mr Rusty has stated, its all about risk sharing. Sometimes genuine issues, some serious, are discovered during works. You can ignore some but others need fixing while “the covers are off”. Often this means stopping planned work, sourcing materials and making good the defect before returning to the original renovation. All of this takes time and money and often tradesmen may have to wait doing nothing while another trade fixes the issue. A degree of project management is often needed but this is something the customer cannot do (ie busy working) or won’t because they expect the trades to manage themselves.

    in your case, if you wanted a perfect squeak free floor, I would have said expose the floorboards as the hardboard could be covering a multitude of issues. The very fact it was there would raise my concerns.

    The only thing you can do now is try negotiate !
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2021
  8. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    If you didn’t agree a price up front then the additional works is just time and materials. I think you might have a stronger argument with the work to the floor they laid: after all they did inspect your floor and said it will be ok when it wasn’t. But even then did you make it clear when asking them to sort their mistake that you were not going to pay???
  9. Maria M

    Maria M Member

    No, I didn't make it clear that I wasn't going to pay. I am more than willing to pay for the overall job, just a FAIR price. They just got the final invoice sent over to me with several separate costs to repair the subfloor. When I add them all up and divide by the number of square meters repaired - it adds up to £112 + VAT per square meter! This is to remove thinboard, crew the boards and put thinboard back. Outrageous! ~And they charged me another £480 + VAT to repair the creaks in the floors they originally laid.
  10. koolpc

    koolpc Screwfix Select

    You need to contact them first. Take pics etc
  11. Maria M

    Maria M Member

    I did have a meeting with their boss today, it got very heated and he stormed off saying that the price is the price. When I highlighted the fact that they are charging me £120+VAT per square meter for fixing subfloor he got puzzled, then said they it’s justified as they are very skilled and good and then pointed out that quality of other work in my house is atrocious. I’m in touch with citizen advice and they advised to get 3 quotes for subfloor repairs and write a formal complaint saying that price in unreasonable…not sure if that would work, but I’ve requested a few flooring specialists to quote. The finished floors look ideal, so I have no complaints about the quality, just being overcharged!
  12. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

    It's expensive, but the quality of the work by the sounds of it is good. Personally I don't think you will get far fighting it.
    jonathanc likes this.
  13. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    Agreed. Likely to end up getting a legal claim and losing it
  14. koolpc

    koolpc Screwfix Select

    Have they done a big % of the work already?

    If not, get some quotes in to see how much to finish job and if you happy with one of those quotes, that can be backed up with recommendations, tell the existing firm you are releasing them from continuing.
  15. Jimbo

    Jimbo Screwfix Select

    4 days extra, 2 people, that's about £330 per person-day which seems reasonable for skilled labour through a company.
    Cloudsnapper likes this.
  16. Jiml86

    Jiml86 Screwfix Select

    You seem to be incredibly unlucky when it comes to having work done. What is the quality of the work like. Does your floor look good? How bad were the squeaky parts?
  17. stevie22

    stevie22 Screwfix Select

    Under formal conditions of contract additional works are expected to be priced on the same basis as the main work. This is intended to keep both sides honest.

    As I read it they wanted £2790 for 8 mandays of work. I suspect they would have hoped to be out in 3 but could have gone over, They therefore have some risk built into that number. If you are saying they took another 8 mandays then they should be looking at that sort of number or less.

    Redoing work where they have said the base was ok and now agreeing it's not is another issue. Only having done 1/3 the work in half the time suggests they have underpriced the work and seizing the opportunity to recoup.

    I personally think you've been shafted but as Rusty and JC have said it's doubtful if you'd do any good in the legal process without solid documentation.

    Best advice is chalk it up to experience and enjoy the floor. Vent your spleen by writing dire reviews if you wish but don't publish anything that isn't 100% accurate.
  18. Worcesterman

    Worcesterman Member

    I have no experience in the trade but I am thinking that it depends on exactly what was done to the subfloor. For an extensive and good quality reinforcement then that price might be a good investment and save you money in the long run. Surely it depends on exactly what you are actually getting for your money. Do you know exactly what work they did to the subfloor ? But I guess its all covered up now.
  19. Rosso

    Rosso New Member

    As the additional work is not covered by the original contract, it is now in "ordinary trade" territory.
    You have the right to get a good and workmanlike job done.
    They have the right to be paid the going rate.

    You have said that "the finished floor looks ideal, so I have no complaints about the quality", so it simply comes down to yours versus theirs perception of a fair price for that. If the additional work took 4 days for 2 men (how?), doubling the original time, then doubling the original time does not appear unreasonable. There appears to be a 1off charge of £80 to repair the squeaks in the laid floor, which seems very reasonable. Their bill appears to be an additional £2790+vat- £3348, not quite the £4000-£4500 that you mention.
    I think, if you were to attempt to dispute their bill via legal means, it would end up costing you an awful lot more. Your legal costs, theirs, time wasted, above all the heartache and headache of a suit, and still having to pay the bill, possibly plus interest.
    I suggest you contact the contractor, ask for a meeting to go through the bill, and then pay it with a smile. Claim the last meeting was based on a misunderstanding. And then put this behind you. You've got the lovely floor you wanted. Don't spoil it

    Mr Rusty likes this.
  20. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    Beautifully put. The only thing I'd add @Rosso, would be to ask for a heartfelt, genuine price concession at the meeting, based on no prior knowledge of the potential size (and consequent shock) of the bill they were going to present. A supplier is always far more likely to be reasonable and conciliatory when faced with a calm, satisfied, reasonable customer who's asking for a bit of a pencil-sharpening lifeline - not demanding it via threats or aggression.
    Mr Rusty and Rosso like this.

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