It’s all go at Camberford as Professional Builder checks in on the fledgling firm once again.
We’ve lined up a job adding a high-end extension in South West London, which is going to be great for our resume and hopefully allow us to start winning more high-spec work in the future. Every business needs a ‘signature’ project to hang their hat on and we’re hoping this one could be Camberford’s.
The problem is, the rear end of the house and its garden are right up against a train line that’s three or four metres above where the property starts. Finding a way to reduce the sound pollution wasn’t too difficult but providing a solution to stop the garden resembling a swimming pool every time it rains was a bit more problematic.
We’ve decided to go with some French drains. For those who don’t know, a French drain works by ensuring that the water has somewhere to go, rather than sitting on top of the thick clay in the garden.
They are installed using perforated pipes wrapped in a geotextile membrane on top of small shingle, then covered in larger aggregate, which lets the water through to the pipes.
The pipes are then connected to a soakaway dug down into the ground at the end of the garden. The pipes are below ground but high enough that the rain water can soak into them easily.
It’s not the only job we’re working on at the moment. Camberford’s now running three sites and one of them is a real salvage job. We’ve been called in to fix up a gym where a resin floor in the shower area of a commercial property had been installed on top of 18mm shuttering ply wood.
The resin has snapped due to the poor structure of the built up timber floor. The floor had floor joists at one metre centred, with braces across at random places, so it was therefore too bouncy and this caused the resin to fail. Once the resin failed it was allowing the water to creep under the surface and rot the wood.
More often than not, you’re having to fix an honest mistake but obviously the client is thinking they’ve been burnt before, so you have to be extra considerate and in terms of communication.
Turnings things around in that kind of situation isn’t easy either. Generally, you don’t know what the approach was of the previous company and everyone does things their own way, with their own little problem solving quirks.
The easiest thing to do is to rip it all out and start all over again but sometimes that’s just not possible, especially if the client is like my current one and running a business from the premises. We’ve had to approach the project sensitively.
We had to remove the shower cubicles, then rip up the resin floor and timber boards, strengthen the floor joists with more timber and install two layers of 18mm marine ply. We then lay new anti-slip vinyl flooring before finally replacing the cubicles.
Most building firms like mine will have to deal with saving a botched job at some point – no-one is perfect and I think our trade can be misunderstood by those who work outside of the industry.
If you make a mistake when you’re onsite, the consequences can be expensive to rectify and or physically dangerous.
Still, we’re learning a lot about what kinds of things puts a client’s mind at rest. More and more people are asking if we can provide a written contract for the work, which is where the FMB’s plain English contracts come in handy.
Back when I used to work for other businesses on domestic projects, not knowing who was responsible for what was a big source of tension.
Getting things written down and agrees saves us no end of grief and it’s how we should all approach our work.
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