Ten years ago some stonework fell off our building leading to a statutory notice being placed on the building. There is no doubt the stonework was in bad condition and needed some repair. This is a listed building in a conservation area and very prominent – its right it is repaired correctly.
The council’s own architect did a survey of the building from a cherry picker and drew up a very detailed (stone by stone) schedule of what work was needed. This was costed at £380,000 – expensive but not totally outlandish.
A statutory notice was applied as the owners could not agree on getting the work done. So far so good. The stat notice was for stonework, chimney repairs only now things started to go wrong.
When it was eventually put out to tender the amount of work on the tender was greatly increased including a new roof. Costs now rose to £700,000. A contractor was appointed. An architect appointed as contract administrator without any competitive tender.
The building works were supposed to be done in stages, i.e. phased, and the scaffold was supposed to be erected in 3 stages. The works were scheduled to take 18 weeks. A decision was taken to scaffold the entire building despite the fact that no company had enough stonemasons to work on the entire building at once. Most of the scaffold was unused for weeks at a time. No documentation exists to support this decision indeed it was challenged by a professional in the department and he was told “there is a reason for this but I have forgotten what it is”. The works started.
Under the guidance of the architect in charge much more stonework was replaced than indicated on the original survey – approximately 3 times as much. This is clearly in breach of Historic Scotland guidance. This phase of the work continued for over a year completing 80% of the work that had been scheduled by the architect. If the original spec had been adhered to this would have been plenty of time to complete the works. The contractor went bust having been paid over £700,000 for a project costed at £380,000 and tendered at £700,000 but it was still not complete. The project lay dormant for over a year with the building fully scaffolded even though another contractor was allegedly ready to take up the work. Eventually another contractor was appointed to complete the works.
The architect acting as contract supervisor continued to increase the scope of the works including complete replacement of the roof including insulating it and large amounts of lead work as well as significant works that were (in the words of an independent surveyor) Ill advised and purely cosmetic. After the best part of another year this second contractor also went bust having been paid over £300,000. The works were still not completed.
A third contractor was then appointed after further delays to finish the project. Costs had now risen to £1.4 Million.
The works were allegedly signed off as complete despite significant snagging / faulty work / incomplete work remaining. For 3 years I fought with the council to have the snagging work done. Eventually most of it had been completed.
The architect acting as project administrator was being paid a % of the total costs – he has pocketed £170,000 for this. All this on a project costed by the councils own surveyor at £380,000. Costs are now over £1.7 Million.
Snagging issues remain including some fairly serious ones. The fight with the council goes on. No bill has yet been issued. The items billable are around £500,000 thus the losses to the council on this project alone are well over £1 Million, plus the internal costs of council officials in trying to sort it out.