It doesn't fit

by Mike Welham, February 2018

The eco new build was progressing well, not mine, but that of our friends and they had reached the stage where they had to order the windows and the external doors – the front door being special. The design of the house had been such that it could accommodate standard sizes. The company was selected to supply the door and frame and their people arrived on site to take measurements. Plans handed over and notes taken of specific requirements – it was all straight forward for the “professionals”. The quotation was presented along with a time line for delivery and installation; the contract was signed. It was accepted that the company would take longer than usual because of August. For those who do not know – nothing happens in businesses in August as the country virtually shuts down for the annual holidays. Now until you are in the middle of a large project there is no conception as to how annoying that is because nothing seems to be made, built, fabricated, transported or installed during this month. But it’s worse because it’s the middle of September before things get back to a semblance of normality.

It’s now a case of wait for the delivery date. Time passes, nothing happens. Telephone calls and emails become the by word most of which don’t get answered. They paid a reasonable sized deposit so they want the goods. Then it’s back to the UK for our friends which happens to be the time when the contractors arrive with doors and windows but they have access to the property so it’s not a problem. Upon their return to France they discover that the window frames do not sit on the lintels so there is a gap. The door wasn’t right as they had it opening the opposite way to what it should have. The battle began about the window frames as the excuses as to why it was not the contractors fault defied belief but it was the door that was to be the most interesting.

As building work continued there was a need to secure the doors and windows at night and during the day when nobody was on site. Close the door, turn the key but it would not turn. It took some working out to discover that when the door was closed the top and bottom of the door touched the frame but in the middle it did not. It was enough to stop the door closing correctly and being able to be locked. Telephone calls and emails were the tools of battle.

The response was that when the door and frame were fitted they were all right. The client must have done something wrong to cause a problem. A site visit confirmed that the door touched top and bottom and there was a gap in the middle. A solution proposed was to move the fittings on the frame to allow the door to close and be locked and whilst there was a gap nobody would notice. The fight was long and hard and eventually the company decided to change the door and frame.

Eventually a new door and frame was delivered. Artisans followed and set about removing the old ones and fitting the new ones. When installed the door closed and locked as it should do but for one thing – the door opened to the left blocking access to the reception area and going the other way meant climbing up stairs. The installers checked the old door and frame to determine whether the new door was incorrect; it was. The phone was very hot that afternoon. The new door and frame was in, it worked, the fact that it still opened the wrong way was hard luck – the company was not going to change it.

It was a war of attrition and if they wanted to get the house finished our friends had to find on site solutions and move on. The door opening to the left meant that the proposed staircase had to be relocated so that the space it would have used became a small lobby. You open the front door get the people into the space then close the door to allow them to walk through into the house. The windows were lowered but it still required them to be sealed in place and the company was not interested in doing it. The “old” expensive door and frame that was left on site waited for several months before a truck came and men threw them on the back and drove away – somebody with carpentry skills and machinery could have sorted the problem out. The lady of the house who is French summed it up – it is France, they are French, there is nothing more to say.

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