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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Kitchen installation: 3rd time lucky?

The 3rd set of kitchen installers from Magnet started today. So far so good, they arrived promptly at 8am, worked solidly and there were about 3-4 on site at any one time. They were polite and just got on with it. Why wasn't it like this the first time?
I have ceased feeling anything about the kitchen now. Just want the job finished, and people out of my house. It has been the worst experience of the house so far, despite being one of the most expensive things we've done to date.
We are still in ongoing discussions with Magnet senior management with regard the problems we have had previously. It's clear to me the subcontractor they used to install the kitchen was a rogue trader and a complete villain, and we are now having a war of words about who said what/did what to ascertain who is liable to pick up the additional costs passed on by our builder for the works needed during the installation (round 1). Just a horrible, upsetting experience. Yet still we need to get the kitchen finished and agreed.
The guys this time seem fine, and I hope will do a good job. It just makes it painfully apparent that all of this aggravation could have been avoided if they'd sent out decent people in the first place. I am still looking to them to show me they can rectify this for us and deliver excellent customer service now to make up for the past problems. All I can do is wait and see and hope common sense prevails.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

3 to 1

Just when I think the house can't get any more horrible, it does. For a 3 bedroom 4 reception house, the four of us are now down to having access to only 1 reception room and 1 bedroom. And the rooms we are using are piled choca block with stuff: loft stuff, kitchen stuff, now kids stuff, and stuff stuff for areas of the house we can't use fully yet.  I try to put some organisation into the chaos but it's not easy with 2 under 5's chucking things around (not to mention a husband who likes to leave piles of everything everywhere! grrr).

The new window has been put into the kids bedroom (a huge sash which took 3 men to put in). They are plastering around etc. In preparation for this we have cleared the majority of things from their room into ours, but each morning and night we have to take down/set up their beds and linen as well as hoovering and dusting before the kids go to bed. Trust me, at 7.30 in the evening it's the last thing I feel like doing.
I am going to ban dust sheets after this.

Grandma Jones is coming tonight to pick up the kids. The entrenched habit of trying to convince them I'm domesticated finds me trying to dust round the piles of paperwork downstairs. One question springs to mind 'Why?'. Why indeed...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

No Doors

The internal wood doors have gone to be stripped today. It took 2 of us to try and get them off the hinges and we couldn't get the (smaller) bedroom doors down the stairs. They weigh an absolute ton. The guy that came to collect them today picked them up easily and got them up into his van. Clearly he's done this before. Or perhaps we are just unfit?

Anyway, it's blowing a gale through the house when the back doors are open right now.

Can't wait to see what the doors look like on their return. Am hopeful they will return soon (or just return, full-stop really): I didn't get a receipt, he looked at me as if I was a bit barmy when I asked for one.

The company restore fireplaces and front doors too. If this goes well I think we'll get those done too.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Strippers !

That's  'door'-Strippers to be precise. This is the rather coy name of the company that we're using to strip our internal wooden doors this week.

In preparation for this, today we have (ie my husband has) taken the huge, heavy original wooden doors off the downstairs reception rooms and the upstairs bedrooms. All the door furniture has had to be taken off as they are literally just dunked straight into a solution to strip away the paint.

It's feeling very open plan in the house at the moment!

For £97 we get four doors stripped and neutralised including collection and return. This seems like a relative bargain to me: anything has got to be better than the 6 layers of off-whitey-cream gloss paint not to mention the 100+ years of grime and grot, currently on the doors.

Will let you know how the door stripping goes.

Friday, 7 October 2011

blinds in a box

We bought some temporary blinds for the front sash windows from Blinds in a Box. These are in essence paper, folded blinds up to 6m in length. They come in White or Black and to fix them to the window they have a reusable sticky tape across the top which you can peel off and then just stick the blind to the window or frame. It comes off easily (not too easily) without any damage to the window afterwards.
The blinds look ok, our middle bay window pane is wider than one blind, so they recommend using two blinds and cutting them down. This looks ok, not perfect, but they are only temporary blinds. the side panes are narrower than the blinds and we have cut them down. These look fine.
They provide complete privacy, let light through (we have white ones). They can be pegged back up if you want to see out/in etc. The pegs aren't great in quality, one or two keep pinging off which is a bit annoying. However as we have sash windows we've only used the blinds on the bottom half and so don't bother trying to peg them up during the day as we have enough natural light coming in and at night no-one can see over the half blind anyway.
A good idea if like us, you have just moved in, are mid-decorating/building and need a quick fix for privacy. At c. £25 for 3 blinds, they are also economical, easy to use (cutting to size is a bit of a pain, but I am lazy), look quite cool for paper blinds, and do the job they are meant to do.
I picked mine up from the office in Totteridge, but for a delivery charge they will post to you direct. They operate on-line 'www.blindsinabox.com'.
They also appeared on Dragons Den and got a Dragon to make an investment!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A day in the life...

Sitting here now typing this, feeling knackered, on the sofa it struck me that my day today has involved the following:
Put washing on & did kids breakfast before school 7.00
Dropped alice at nursery at 8.30 am
Dropped william at school at 9.00 am
Picked up car with broken boot (due to the bifold doors truck reversing into it last week) and took it to Kilburn for an insurance estimate 10.00 am
Dropped damaged car off and picked up hire car to get back to house by 11.00
Spent an hour with Magnet Area Manager & Store Manager going through the issues with last weeks unfinished kitchen installation 11.30
Put washing out 12.00
Collected Alice from Nursery 1.00 pm
Did shopping at Sainsburys for packed lunches for William.
Attended Williams school for a parent/children session involving telling a funny story about when William was a baby and bringing a photo along 2.45
Collected William from School 3.25
Took Willliam and Alice swimming 4.30
Came home, cooked tea 5.30
Kids in bath 6.30
Kids in bed 7.15
Typing this on sofa, knackered! 8.00

Is it really only Wednesday today?

Kitchen installation round 2

Having had to call a halt to the recent kitchen installation due to a hatchet job last week and appalling service, I had the Magnet Area Manager and Store Manager visit the site today to view the problems of the recent, still unfinished, kitchen installation and talk through a resolution.

A new installer is due to start next Thursday and some new design solutions have been put forward on how to address the space.

I am hopeful that they will demonstrate in the next couple of weeks that they can resolve this fiasco fully. If they can turn it around, propose a sensible solution and an appropriate financial resolution then I will shout their praises going forward. For now, the jury is out.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

It's all going Pete Tong

The kitchen has stalled to a halt. New fitters came into day, and their opening gambit was that we'd need to move 2 pipes a GCH and a water pipe for the washing machine to fit. which means that every single space has been measured incorrectly and 'nothing fits where it should'. They told me the best thing to do would be to rip everything out and start again. To be fair they were voicing everything I have been thinking the last few days.

They seemed pretty sound, but I told them I wasn't prepared for them to continue until I'd raised this with the store. The thought of hacking through more pipes or compromising on more units has got to me. The fact that we are spending a small fortune on the kitchen, yet have been treated appallingly, had our kitchen chopped and drilled apart in the space of 3 days, and to top it all we still don't have a kitchen is finally getting to me.

Enough is enough. I need to get this fiasco sorted out. What a fricking mess. It's time to get tough Maccy. Watch this space...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Cowboys (& it's not 'yee harhh')

Bad week last week. I decided after 3 days of hell with the kitchen fitters, that I wouldn't have them back on site. The fitter was subcontracted by Magnet to fit our new kitchen and from day 1 it has been a fiasco. Every (and I mean 'every') space had been mis-measured (by him) at the survey stage, and as a result our builder had to drill into every newly plastered and painted wall to try and squeeze in the various units. Some doors / plinths were missing and when I told him theywere available for pick up at the store, the fitter told me that '(he's) not a driver' and that it was for me to source them and ring him when they were delivered.
Having turned up at 3pm on Thursday, he told me at 5pm as he was packing to go home that he wouldn't be back on Friday, and 'would only do 1 more day', once I'd sourced the missing bits from Magnet. Seeing him leaving, I asked him to ensure he had moved all the packaging (piled high across the width of my garden) out to the front, to which he refused, despite my pleas that I had 2 children & the weekend was looming. Given he wasn't coming back to finish on Friday I would need to use the garden over the coming days. Still telling me he wasn't moving it to the front, he only relented when I said if he didn't move it out, I would have no option but to sue Magnet in the event of any harm coming to my small children in the event of accident.
He left me with a messy, unfinished kitchen, holes gauged out of walls, a cooker hood that bowed in the middle where it had been badly fitted, a back-to-front wall unit light, missing units, and doors that wouldn't open due to being poorly fitted. And more than that he left me feeling sick to my guts that someone could be so rude, surly, and downright maverick, while in my own home, providing a service I had paid for, and which was ultimately paying their wage.
I decided this couldn't go on, and on Friday, I rang the store, cataloguing the issues and said I wasn't prepared to have him back on site again. To their absolute credit the manager from Magnet took it all on board, he visited the site today, apologised profusely and appears to be taking steps to rectify all the issues including getting us another fitter that he has worked with previously. He told us that all the staff have changed, and he as the manager is new to this store, that he has no relationship with this fitter and did not know he had been allocated to us. And that this fitter has made mistakes previously and they were not using him anymore. Hopefully he will now rectify the problems, deal with it swiftly and get our kitchen finished, perhaps better than ever before.
I really appreciated his honesty today at any rate. It was a big decision for me to make the call not to have the fitter back again, I'd found myself thinking that perhaps the chaos and the rudeness was normal, and it was me being a difficult client. So, I hope to put the experience of the last few days down to a maverick fitter, not the store. If they can remedy it quickly and correctly with no further issues, then it will undo all the pain of the last week and I will feel positive about this kitchen again rather than ground down by the whole thing.
The fitter we had was 'Jopar's kitchens', a rogue trader if ever there was, in my book (blog!) at least.