Monday, 7 June 2010

All in all you're just another brick in the wall

You have all been wondering what has happened about THE WALL situation I blogged about in March. The news is not good - in fact the reason I haven't told anyone about it is it has just been too drainingly tedious for words.  Just the sort of nightmare I predicted having years of experience and filing cabinets full of post-builder correspondence which has left me pretty much phobic about having anything else done. Unfortunately, in a house and garden built in 1900 there is always going to be something.

At the time of the last blog about it the walls had not survived the winter and had dissolved dangerously in parts making its immediate removal a necessity.  Mad Andy - who might be mad but is very hardworking, trustworthy and reliable - was going to remove them leaving the area clear for a proper landscaper to finish off neatly and install new fencing.

At the beginning of April I called a recommended landscape firm explaining that it wasn't the most glamorous of jobs - basically some building works and erecting a fence - but that I wanted the job done properly and by people who would show some care and sensitivity towards the garden. The point was also strongly made that as the crumbling wall was being removed the following week that time was of the essence and the works needed doing as soon as possible after that.The landscaper visited and seemed happy to take on the job.  The original quotation figure they gave me seemed rather expensive but worth it to get the work done properly and speedily by people that I wouldn't find to onerous to have to cope with when they invaded my house and garden.

[At this point I deleted my long and boring diatribe detailing events but suffice to say that I was let down badly by someone who clearly couldn't be arsed to do the job, forgot various details I had asked him about, took ages to produce an updated quotation full of innacurate figures, led me to believe that the job might take place end of April or early May, etc. etc. etc. until I had such a bad feeling about the whole thing I gave up with them. The firm hasn't contacted me since sending the second quotation so I guess they weren't interested but failed to bother to tell me this.]

Landscaper no.2 was contacted and seemed to know his stuff and at less than half the price of the first one didn't appear to be taking the piss. Because Landscaper no.1 had wasted a month during which, of course, everyone's work schedules had been booked up, Landscaper no.2 can't start until end of June.

To say I am pissed off is an understatement.  In the belief that works would take place in April/early May we hacked back all our shrubs along the wall to allow access and dug up and potted many of the border plants that were likely to get destroyed in the process. It was imperative to get the fence in early so I could replant this and other new shrubs in order to have the garden look good this year. The shrubs are now regrowing and will have to be cutback again for the fencing to be put in.  Much of the stuff I potted up isn't really happy and it has been a huge job watering it all.  I have had to restrain myself in my usual horticultural retail therapy as there is nowhere for anything to go and stuff that I have not been able to resist is languishing in pots. Late spring and early summer is my absolute favourite time in the garden and it is still a mess. I am heartbroken.

Worse, we hadn't realised that our garden was 18" lower than the one above and that the wall  was the only thing stopping it from collapsing into our garden in the event of a monsoon.  Luckily rain hasn't been forthcoming - yet.  The neighbours ageing fence was also supported by our wall so that is near collapse too and is support by some bags of rubble on both his and our sides making the garden look even more like a building site.

On the other side of our garden we now have an open plan effect with the elderly neighbours wildlife garden and her appalling fence.  It has to be said that the cats love this if nobody else does.  We are having her fence removed and our new one will form the boundary a cost which we will cover but it will mean the whole thing looks neater.

Plus the fencing that I wanted was originally on special offer which due to the delay in ordering has now finished costing me another few hundred pounds!

All of this couldn't have come at a worse time for various personal reasons that I won't bore readers with but
I am denied the relaxation that the garden would normally bring me when I really need it.    Sometimes it is just all too much.


Victoria Summerley said...

OMG, Arabella, it sounds like a complete nightmare. If it's any consolation, I'm about to have my kitchen done. I'm sure it isn't any consolation, but at least you'll know someone else is going through a Summer of Hell. I'm tempted to check into a hotel for a couple of weeks, or even go camping, but I can't leave Pushkin with the builders there. He'll get himself walled up behind the fridge or something.
Many commiserations, Victoria

Arabella Sock said...

Oh dear - kitchen's are hellish although bathrooms are worst particularly if you only have one toilet in the house. :( By some amazing coincidence the Bedsock has invariably found that he has had to disappear off to stay at a hotel (for work reasons of course) during the most trying of the building work.

The cats are another problem - they will have to stay in when the landscape people are around and that will make them very fractious!

Ms B said...

Do you need more emergency cake?

WV is catensaf - that must mean something!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of all your sockstrife! My neighbours builders are in week 16 of their new kitchen, to my horror it has arisen as a cathedral sized monstrosity, which I have named St. Wilson's (after my not so neighbourly neighbours), keep well x

Michelle Wheeler said...

Gosh how awful,I sometimes cannot understand why contracters etc let people down.Would never do it to my clients.*virtual glass of wine with chocs heading your way *

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Oh dear, how frightfully unpleasant, no wonder you are not a happy sock. That bedsock, never around when you need 1. Typical. ;-)

Juliet said...

Sorry to hear the wall situation's still causing you so much stress, Arabella - sending virtual hugs, though I know real landscapers would be of more practical value.

I'm still Pretending My Wall Isn't There - or at least that it isn't cracked - and hoping it doesn't fall down before we've sold the house ;)

Anonymous said...

We have the same sort of contractor woes across the pond, Arabella. They seem interested when first contacted about a job, never to be seen or heard from again. Like they don't want to hurt our feelings by saying they are not interested in our piddling job. May you find The One who will do exactly as you wish, under budget and ahead of schedule.

the cycling gardener said...

Good landscapers are a rare species. Once spotted, they need to be tagged and guarded jealously. I’ve just had my own falling out with a landscaper I’ve worked with periodically for 10 years. He has also taken the piss so I won’t be working with him again. It’s perhaps even more of a nightmare when it’s not your own garden – certainly very distressing and embarrassing. I sincerely hope landscaper no. 2 works out for you and you will be able to de-stress in your lovely garden later in the summer.

Yan said...

Lots of sympathy. We are in much the same situation with our builder. A small job is about the same time as building the Great Wall of China and in the meantime we live with the mess. Builders and landscapers are a law unto themselves. I just keep telling myself it will be lovely when it's finished. Your wall will be, too.

The Constant Gardener said...

big virtual hugs and a packet of chocolate biscuits (accompanied by more red wine) on its way to you. I feel your pain. There's only one way from here: hope it starts getting better soon.


Arabella Sock said...

Thank you for all the sympathy - I know everybody understands because I have never met anyone ever who doesn't have at least one similar 'builder/artisan' story. I just wish I didn't have so many.

I am crossing my fingers for Landscaper No.2 to work out OK. I think something I do wrong is to be too friendly to these people from the beginning - in part because I will be stuck with them in close proximity in my house and garden for a week and I need to feel comfortable with them. I think this possibly gives the impression that I am 'laid-back' enough to be walked over. So with L.No.2 I have been much more formal and business like. To be honest I have tried every possible approach to these things over the years and nothing really works.

Astonishingly when I ordered the fencing from a suppliers in Kent (less than 50 miles away) I was told they could only deliver on THursdays or Fridays in my area despite the charge of £40 delivery. I need it delivering on the Tuesday so that L.No2 will be here to deal with it. I eventually got through to their rather more helpful (female) sales director and said did they want my £1700 order or not? She has organised it to be delivered on the Tuesday.
I just absolutely hate having to 'deal' with people.

janerowena said...

The loooooong fence all along one side of my garden is due to be replaced this autumn, and I am dreading it. All that clematis/honeysuckle/roses-smothered trellis to be removed, more shrubs to be cut back,and the lack of privacy for heaven knows how long.

Also, it isn't our fence, and the neighbour is erecting a lower fence, so we will have to pay to have a new trellis fence installed all the way along just to get our privacy and growing heights back again.

Garden boundaries have always been a bone of contention enough, without unreliable landscapers to contend with as well.

Yan said...

How's it going?