Here are some useful tips if you are considering using Loftplan Designs Limited...
Don’t use them
But if you've already signed up...
Beware of hidden costs – for example, we were given an all-inclusive cost for the build. When they started the soak away (required for the run off for a downpipe for the conversion), we were told they would have to dig up our side path and part of our front lawn, but would make good any damage. However, they then tried to charge us for re-laying the path! An additional point to note here is that the path was laid crooked and the lawn very unlevel on 17th April 2014, and that when Loftplan returned to dig up the path again to correct it, the foreman stated that the soak away had not been dug to a level considered good practice and so they would have to re do this as well. The soak away, path and grass were finally re-done on 12th July, three months later (and six months into a build that was only supposed to take approx. 14 weeks), once we had commenced the adjudication process.
Insist on a work schedule – we asked for a work schedule on numerous occasions but David Bernasconi insisted this was not possible in case they ran over a couple of weeks to improve the quality. At the time we accepted this, as our priority was a quality job, but if you don’t get a work schedule, you have no come back. We were told our build would take approximately 12-14 weeks, but excluding the issues with the brickwork, it still wasn’t finished after 26 weeks…and still isn’t (see the list of work Loftplan didn't do below), but at that stage, we informed them that we didn’t want them back into our home and would make alternative arrangements.
Ensure that if Loftplan cause an issue, they do so within their working hours – we completely ran out of water on two occasions, twice came home to no heating, suffered a major leak, had roof tiles fall off and smash outside our door…. and when phoning David Bernasconi, were greeted rudely, stating they had a life and couldn’t be at our beck and call! Most of these issues we ended up having to resolve ourselves.
Don’t let them install their usual pump if having a bathroom built in the loft - it is unbelievably noisy, to the point that you would wake up your household by simply running a tap at night. The best option instead is a pressurised system, which is quoted for by their competitors – for example High Ridge Lofts, whose quote was actually cheaper.
Insist they put every promise they make in writing
Keep a diary of events in case like us, you end up needing to take action against them.
There are a number of things that remain unfinished, but because of the issues listed below, we refuse to allow Loftplan back in our home and prefer to bear the additional costs of employing competent workmen:
We came home to find faeces floating in our toilet
We allowed them access only to our cloakroom, but they used the family bathroom and broke the flush, which we arranged to be fixed, as they couldn’t send a plumber for three days
Without permission, they thought it was acceptable to rummage through our kitchen cupboards to find tea/coffee/etc (and without washing their hands first) and then dripped tea bags across our kitchen floor and down the bin
Almost without fail, every time a plumber did any work, we were either left with no water or heating or had a leak. They even used the excuse that the reason our system was blocked and we had no water, was due to the mains water coming into the house containing debris! As Thames Water pointed out, why would only our house be affected and no others, and on two separate occasions. It eventually transpired that is was due to sawdust in the newly laid pipework
In many instances their workmen treated the inside of our home like a building site
We constantly had to chase jobs up to get finished
The return pipe to the heating system has been installed incorrectly, resulting in hot water running to the radiators when only the hot water is turned on
The two rear windows in the extended first floor bedroom are loose as they have not been fully tied into the wall
The plastering on two ceilings is so poor that we cannot use uplighters as we have in the rooms not plastered by Loftplan
The ceiling in the new ensuite slopes up
The walls are curved in places, so that when we placed a set of drawers, 1.2m in length against them, although both ends of the unit touch the wall, we can put our fingers down the gap in the middle
The rear gutter still bows down in the middle resulting in rain water running over the edge, even in relatively light rainfall
The slabs of the re-laid path are clearly marked where they tried to remove the cement