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Interesting questions re worktops and kitchens and ethics

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johnelliott

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Not long ago I undertook to replace the worktop in a customer's kitchen. Fairly typical L shape kitchen, with a fairly typical boxed-in soilpipe from upstairs in the corner of the L, approx 200mm each side.
I agree with the customer, who does not want to replace the tiles, that I will remove the existing worktop and butt the new worktop (which is 10mm thicker (higher)) up against the existing tiles and that any gaps left will be filled with silicone sealant. I've done tops like this before where the customer doesn't want to replace all the tiles, and has no spares to do just the bottom row. It's not the best way of doing it, but is quite a bit cheaper.
Anyway, I start to remove the worktop, and I'm having difficulty in releasing it from the boxed-in soilpipe area. After trying various tricks (including cutting the existing worktop in two to give me more wiggle room) I eventually remove a cabinet so that I can see what the problem is. It turns out that when the kitchen was built the soil pipe was put in first, then the worktop, with a small notch cut out to fit around the pipe. Then the box was made by nailing a framework to the worktop and then plasterboarding over :shock: :shock: :shock:
In other words, there was no possible way in which the worktop could be removed without seriously disturbing the boxwork and breaking some of the tiles which were attached to it!

At last, the actual questions
1. Should I have anticipated this dirty trick?
2. Should I or the customer pay for the extra work involved?

The customer thinks I should pay, I on the other hand think that the situation is analagous to a person taking a car to have a tyre replaced. The tyre fitter quotes £50, the person says go ahead, the fitter discovers that the wheel has been welded to the hub instead of bolted, the customer still thinks the tyre should be replaced for £50.
What do you lot think?
John
 

ike

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John,

If it was a fixed price agreement, I think you have to take it on the chin and honour the quote. When I do paying jobs, I try to gauge the "buggeration" factor (moderators: apology for commonly used trade term - not meaning to be rude) and price in a little extra labour to cover such eventualities. If it all goes smooth, them its down to you whether you pocket the extra profit, or knock a bit of the clients bill. The latter can pay off through a very happy customer giving out recommendations to others.

If it was agreed as per hour or per day, and made clear beforehand that unforeseable work (as in your case) will add to the bill, then the client should (must?) pay.

It all depends on what you agreed with your client.

Ike
 

mudman

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John,

If I'm seeing this correctly, is there any way that you could 'slice' through the frame connected to the worktop (angle grinder perhaps) to leave the box work 'hanging'? Then lay the new top up to it and install some new supports?
 

Adam

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Did you do a proper survey of the kitchen to determine if everything (as much as it could do to a visual inspection inside every cabinet) "appeared" standard?

In which case I'd say the customer is liable

Or did you give the kitchen a once over without looking inside and then quote a price?

In which case I'd say you are liable.

In either case you are going to come out badly, either the customer is pineappled that they had to pay more and won't be recommending you presumably. Or you stand the cost and loose out financially.

I don't think it's something we can easily answer to be honest - you'd need to see everything "in-situ".

Could you include a clause in you qoute which notes "additional building work, not obvious at time of survey will be charged at cost" type thing?

Adam
 

kityuser

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I think i would probably have to say that ANY REASONABLE person would expect to pay for the extra work.

It was my understanding that the law would be on your side for this situation. It is obvious that when undertaking a job where there is the potential for "hidden delights" that the customer should have to pay for the extra work. Otherwise what are you supposed to do? quote them for every eventuallity that could happen on the job...............

I remember that when I worked (summer work when at uni) for a fencing company that this was written into the terms and conditions when the customer was presented with a quote.

prehaps you should do the same in the future? remember some people have vast potential for being stupid!!!!

steve
 

Adam

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kityuser":2risbfu8 said:
It was my understanding that the law would be on your side for this situation.
steve
And pop would go any chance of your customer making a recommendation to their friends about their "great new kitchen".

It's a no-win situation either way.

My evening class teached (a cabinet maker) said he recently was asked to replace some cheap doors, with an identical design, except made in oak.

He duly did this and fitted them.

The customer then rang to say he was rejecting them, as they weren't the same thickness. A similar dilemma - does "copying" a design, mean exactly (as in the thickness) or as in identical - e.g. a 6 panel door with identical mouldings on the door (so it "looks" the same when open'closed.

Anyway, he spent another £600 on oak, and spent about 4 days including his weekend to replace the lot. All out his own pocket. He now has 3 doors he doesn't want.

Adam
 

StevieB

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Hmm, I agree, if it was not obvious from the initial inspection that this would be a requirement then the customer should be footing the bill.

I assume that you cannot slide a hacksaw blade between the worktop and the frame and cut through the nails, or cut the worktop round the pipe say to within 2 inches and remove the bulk of the worktop, then cut upwards with a reciprocating saw for the nailed portion in multiple places until it 'falls away'from the nails in the frame? Then either tap the nails back up inside the frame with a hammer or trim them flush with a hacksaw and slide the new worktop under the existing frame.

I guess this is how to do it not who should pay for it which digresses from your original question :oops: Guess it boils down to how much you want the job and/or the recommendations from this particular customer as to whether you put up with it or not.

Steve.
 

Aragorn

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In my T&Cs on all estimates I include this:
"Only the work specified above is covered by this quotation. If additional work is found to be necessary that was not apparent at the time of the initial site visit, or additional work arises due to defects or damage in the property that were not apparent, and this is agreed by the customer, a revised written quotation will be given."
But, wherever possible I try to Swallow extras into the fixed price. A happy customer means 10 new customers. I try not to even raise the issue unless it's going to cost me serious money extra. A few hours more of my labour isn't worth an unhappy customer.
My prices always include a percentage factor for this sort of thing. If the job goes well, I knock off that percentage and the happy customer is even happier!
 

Alf

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John,

It's a stinker, and as has been said, it's a toss up. Which is more important; the cost or the goodwill? No one can judge that better than you, when all's said and done. We've had more than one tradesman throw up his hands in disgust at the dodgy practices that have been used in our current place (electrical wires going diagonally across walls anyone?) but we've always ended up footing the bill for the extra time and expense it's cost because (by now) we have a fair idea it'll be a botched job and tell the unlucky contractor so (oh look, is that the central heating pump under the floorboards in the middle of the room? Why, so it is :roll: ). It's unlikely the customer in your case knew of this, so I suppose it was up to you to allow for the possibility. Looks like it's one of those expensive lessons to me. Commisserations. :(

Cheers, Alf
 
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Alf":sf9hptch said:
(electrical wires going diagonally across walls anyone?)
Been there, done that, hammered the nail into it :shock:

Anyway, my farthing's worth:
At first reading, my initial response was "customer pays"...but then I got to thinking about when I had my kitchen refitted; turns out my house isn't straight (surprise surprise) - the new kitchen has a board going across the top of the window, with spot-lights going through it. When first fitted, the board was about 2 inches closer to the window at one end than the other. I, of course, in disgust reached for a spirit level, only to find the board was level, but the window wasn't. The guys fitting the kitchen sorted it themselves, and even made a couple of custom units to work around some other oddities with the shape of the room - all at their own expense.

The result - I recommend them to anyone who asks about where the kitchen came from. And since the house has been up for sale recently, that includes all the people coming to view it!

So - your choice!

Cheers
~Esp
 

Keith Smith

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When this sort of thing happens I would usually sort it within the estimate. I once went 50-50 with a customer over some completely unforeseeable problem, thought I was doing them a favour, but I was told, by a mutual friend, that they were very unhappy afterward.

John do you have a Fein Multimaster? mine has got me out of a few tight spots and this sort of thing is where it excels.
 

johnelliott

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KeithS":15ute8bl said:
John do you have a Fein Multimaster? mine has got me out of a few tight spots and this sort of thing is where it excels.
Do I have a Fein Multimaster, absolutely I do. I can't imagine trying to fit a kitchen without one.
It wouldn't have saved me though, no way to use it without damaging the irreplaceable tiles.
John
 
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Anonymous

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John, my first post here.

I have been kitchen fitting for 30 years and have specialized in worktop changes for the last 6 ( must need my head examined).

The way I see it , you had no way of knowing how the boxing in had been constructed, which to my mind has been done the wrong way, I change a lot of tops that have been damaged and a possible change should be taken into account with all boxing in.

The tile thing is always a problem and I make it clear that I am NOT responsible for any that break, although I will change them free if they have spares.

I really do not think it is practical to add a percentage onto the charges, mainly because it is not an expensive job anyway, in my area £10-15 more would be enough to lose the job.

At the end of the day you do not have a choice if the customer does not want to pay, do it free and remember to point it out next time you are faced with boxing in.
 
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Anonymous

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I run into this sort of thing regularly, and not just for worktops. When I first started up I just took it on the chin, but I soon learnt that I was going out of business if I remained that flexible.

So what I do now when I do a quote is advise the customer "providing there are no unforeseen problems carrying out the work which could not have been reasonably identified via visual inspection prior to the work taking place". Or words to that effect.

Sometimes I've got the impression that the customer may have been able to undertake the work themselves, but knew about a difficulty and hoped to get some other fool roped in so as to avoid the difficult stuff.

My take on this situation is that if you didn't warn the customer up-front then you've got to take the hit. Put it down to learning the business.

Andrew
 

frank

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john i never gave quotes i all ways gave an estimate if i found a problem then i informed the customer , i think in law an estimate is not the final price. just look at the estimate for that bit of builing work in scotland

frank
 

Alf

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Welcome to the forum, danman.

frank":6h8warwk said:
just look at the estimate for that bit of building work in scotland
Estimate?! If ever there was a guesstimate, that was it. Not even an educated one either, it appears. :roll:

Cheers, Alf
 
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Anonymous

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John

Good will is worth maybe a half dozen new kitchens in the future.
 

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