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What happens when you employ the wrong people to run your refurbishment project?

In today's episode of “Renovations going wrong” let me introduce you to Amy. Amy is a business owner. She has been running her accountancy practice for the last 12 years, grown a team of 15 people and in order to expand further, she decided to acquire and merge with another similar size of a business. In simple words Amy is a busy person.

Her personal life has always suffered because of her work aspirations. However last year Amy decided to change her flat for a garden property so that she could get a dog. A perfect life companion. She purchased a property in North London that used to be occupied by an elderly lady who had sadly passed away. The property was dated and needed a lot of the work but Amy wasn’t really worried by that. One of her clients is an Architect running his own practice. We’ll call him “David”. She reached out to David on the spot and they agreed what needed doing. David has given her a budget quote for the works as well as offered his services to design and manage the refurbishment. Amy didn’t need long to decide that’s exactly what she wanted and instructed David on the spot.

The process of planning and looking for builders seemed extremely long and daunting. Planning permission came in relatively quickly but builders quotes… not.

Amy started getting annoyed when 2 months after planning being granted they still hadn’t chosen a builder and received only one quote from a builder who happened to be David’s relative. As a typical business woman she pulled her socks up and started asking all her friends and family for recommendations on builders. They got 3 more quotes giving them a total of 4 to choose from.

One of the first red flags for Amy was the fact that all quotes came back over £100k more expensive than the figure David had given her. When she asked him about this he said that it was due to Covid, Brexit and recession that prices have gone up. Since Amy knew nothing about construction work she has accepted his word as fact 🤷🏼‍♀️

David suggested going for the second cheapest quote. He assured Amy that he had checked out the company, they seemed the most legit to him and he would want to work with them. Again Amy’s position was - you know better than me so let’s do it your way.

But Amy was still concerned that she didn’t really have anyone to Project Manage the scheme. She knew that her business needed most of her attention and she just couldn’t invest money and her time into this project. She spoke to David about it who offered to do it for her at a further percentage. That seemed like a great solution to Amy so she simply stepped out the picture and allowed David to do what he needed to do. The works started and the anticipated programme was intended for 6 months. Amy was getting regular emails with questions, additional works quotations, revised drawings and loads of questions. She wasn’t really going to the site as she didn’t have the time or desire to get involved in things she was paying someone else to deal with. She was also getting regular invoices so she thought everything was going to plan.

On a random Wednesday morning she was having her nails done in the salon she always goes to. Funny enough her new neighbour from across the street was also having her nails done. They had a bit of a chit chat, Amy said that she is having all of this work done and the neighbour mentioned that the site was really quiet lately. She seemed to believe that no one had come to the site for at least the last few weeks. Amy was a bit surprised and called David straight away, he of course reassured her that everything was ok. But for the first time Amy had this weird feeling that something wasn’t right. She asked David for a date of the next site meeting and that she would like to be present. She also called her Uncle who had some construction experience. When they arrived on site, 2 months before her moving in date, the house was an absolute wreck. The back wall was removed, inside was completely stripped, a forest of props and supports was holding up the structure. The garden was a mud hole completely snowed with bags of rubble. Amy was shocked.

David and the site foreman tried feeding Amy the story of materials shortage but luckily Uncle Jack was there asking important questions that were left with no answer. That same afternoon Amy received an email from the owner of the building company saying that they were experiencing financial difficulties and couldn’t afford financing the project further. At that point Amy started going over valuations sent to her compared to the works she had seen done. She quickly realised that she had significantly overpaid this company. The more she started digging in the less responses she was getting. Up until the point that David informed her he was going on holiday.

At that point Amy realised that her project is one of the horror stories out there. She was furious but at the same time knew that she had no idea who to talk to, what to do and how to get her house back. She looked online for someone who could help her. She shortlisted 3 people, booked discovery calls and asked Uncle Jack to help her. On the call she knew that Julia was the person to help her.

The next day she terminated David’s appointment. A couple of days later when Julia visited the site and provided Amy with a report on what she thought the value of works was. Amy was horrified. For the first time she realised the monetary scale of her losses. The site was empty, no-one was working there, tools were left and Julia’s valuation stated works were overpaid by nearly £250k. Julia helped Amy put together a plan of action to get Amy into the position she should have been. With all the losses, additional fees and rental of accommodation Amy was about £400k out of pocket. Julia put Amy in touch with lawyers to help her reclaim at least some of those fees.

The project is yet to come to completion but already Amy can see a massive difference. If she had known what to expect she would have seen all the red flags in David’s processes. So what should you expect when you don’t know what to expect? You can find information here on how a typical building project should progress 👇👇👇

Having another conversation with lawyers Amy was advised, that should David have acted differently, it wouldn’t have necessarily have changed anything. She disagreed. It might not have changed her financial position but it would definitely have saved her a lot of stress, a lot of time and a lot of headspace that she needed to find in order to bring the project back to life.

If you feel like your team is failing or something is not really going right but you can’t put your finger at it you can book a free discovery call with us here 👇

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