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Dealing with a Dodgy Landscaper

Discussion in 'General Property Chat' started by MsAli, 20th Jun, 2016.

  1. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Hi All,

    Need your input on this one!

    Three months today we got our landscaping for our home started (yes 3 months ago!). These were one of the 4 odd landscapers we interviewed and these guys knew the most. They (husband & wife team) came over the day before new years to quote and were bending backwards and were easy to negotiate with! So we included concrete areas & drive way as well to the quote.

    Thus far the work has been really tidy. However the challenge has been the blown out costs and the time it has taken. They said they couldn't tell how much sand fill we needed before they came on site. Claimed 45 tonnes filled for a ~350-400sqm back yard and charged $4150 plus GST. They rushed us to quickly take action on those as well as on the other invoices. With the fill, in hindsight we didn't know any better and should have called around. There would be bob cat hire & labour involved, but from the pricing I received from a near by supplier we would have had this $1300 delivered plus labour. Now the bob cat & 1 day labour couldn't be $3,265. So later on I asked for an itemised invoice which they refused and said that's what they charge and we are not getting one. Fair trading rules suggest that there is penalty for not giving an itemised receipt to the consumer on request.

    Also during this time they disappeared for 3 weeks suggesting their brickie had gone on leave for one week. Sounded like BS. The bricking was really poor so we called that out in the evening when it started. They immediately offered to do rendering of the bricks for free. We never wanted it rendered. So the next morning, we looked at the bricks in daylight. Turns out that Austral had discontinued the bricks we had chosen and the new bricks were differently sized & colour. So they kept their word about the rendering. However since then (I believe early April), landscaper's wife has said on the phone every single time on how they shouldn't have paid for it blah blah. At the end of the day, we wouldn't have noticed had the bricking been half decent. Also every time she speaks with me, she says the rendering cost her $2500. When the render guy said it was $1500 or so..

    Further, we have some family stuff coming up in July that needs priority and these guys were told of this before May and the landscaper's wife had said she didn't see the landscaping going past end of May. Now it has been 4 weeks since the drive way was poured in. As of 22nd May we had paid 95% of the progress payments with 30% of the work outstanding (I know, mistake..)

    So I asked what the delay was, they said they were waiting on brick fence slats & gates which were to be delivered last Thursday. Now when I called last Thursday landscapers wife said they won't pick it till Tuesday.

    Moving on, she said she had a few things to talk about and since they paid for the rendering, she needs more $$ to order the grass..i.e. $1000 out of the remaining $2500 which were due with the final progress payment upon completion. I told her that their request will only be considered should the landscaper email it and commit to a firm completion date. She said she will get him to do that. She made 3 statements 1) we will come back from Wednesday 2) we will come back once other jobs are complete 3) won't come back unless we pay this ransom of part of the final payment

    Following this conversation, I sent an email suggesting her comment that she has said they won't come back should there be no more payments..No response!

    Saturday I emailed them saying they won't be getting any more $$ as the earlier progress payments work had not been finished - paid as early as March 2016. I asked them to return by Monday and finish the work by Friday given they'd be aware of the rules & regulations around not keeping to progress payments vs delivery. Again no response to this either. They just don't want to commit to an end date or take responsibility and instead start attacking back...the husband via emails and the wife on the phone.

    Some findings / thoughts
    • Fair Trading have advised the business or the guy is not licensed to do works more than $20k and our invoice is much larger than that
    • The insurance in place is not one Fair Trading approves of (only 2 insurers are allowed QBE and one other)
    • As per Fair Trading website his license is valid until 26th June 2016. By the way the license scan he gave us is already expired as of June 2015 (not sure how Fair trading would see that)
    • He hasn't delivered on progress payments - penalties of of $110k for corporations & $22k for individuals and $500-$1000 fine on the spot
    • Refusing to provide itemised receipts - $15k odd fine --> I know we don't have any price regulations in NSW but the pricing that he charged for the fill is just exhuberant
    • Using coercion tactics to get the invoices moving, in particular the "Extra" cost blow out invoices
    • His wife would harass by calling 5+ times a day at times and now no calls what so ever (was annoying)
    • Now apparently 2-3 days work is left yet they don't want to commit on when to complete (but yes 30% outstanding to be ticked off per the contract)
    • Unreasonable time frames - there is nothing noted on the contract (again an oversight!) as verbally he had said the job is 3 weeks!
    So we are giving him till Wednesday to return and then proceed with a Fair Trading complaint. Don't want to wait till next week really as we've waited long enough now..

    What would you do in this circumstance? I also think it's the industry which is the way it is. Had we known it won't be easy like a project build, we would have been EVEN more prudent and this is after doing SEVERAL reviews and updates of the contract, progress payment schedule as well as annexures.

    Look forward to the PC input..

    @melbournian - remember we posted a similar thread on SS...
    @MTR
    @Terry_w
    @Brian84
    @Westminster

    thanks!!
     
    Last edited: 20th Jun, 2016
  2. Cactus

    Cactus Well-Known Member

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    I think you've been patient enough. I'd email them back your research highlighting the fines they stand to recieve and advise if the works are not satisfactorily completed within 7 days you will have no choice but to proceed with your complaint to fair trading.
     
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  3. Be Developer

    Be Developer Property Developer Business Member

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    @MsAli

    Copy n paste above in an email to fair trading and cc landscaper on it.

    Licence (as long as it is valid ) -not much you can do

    Progress payment - based on your version- landscaper can get clipped

    Delays - whats written time frame on contract??? Any mention of liquidated damages?
     
    Last edited: 20th Jun, 2016
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  4. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    What does clip mean @Be Developer ?

    Nah no time written on it. He had said verbally the job was 3 weeks. It's straight forward ....nothing complicated.
     
  5. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    As it is your ppor, the contractor is stuffed as they cannot rely on the NSW Security of Payments legislation. I assume that they have put a contract in place (sounds like it as you have a payment schedule) but keep in contact with OFT.

    You could probably ping them in several areas.
     
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  6. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks Cactus. Considering email them the breaches. Though do you think we'd be caught off guard by telling them our next steps?

    I'd like to call out our street cross over was vandalised overnight when it was poured and I suspect it was the landscaper. I have no way to prove that. Fortunately it wasn't cured so our neighbour helped us sand it back and it was still within council's approval. I am wary of further such issues...
     
  7. wombat777

    wombat777 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Are there any reviews of the business on productreview.com.au. Not suggesting you leave a review ( would only inflame a situation ) but perhaps you can see experiences that others have had. Might give some insight into the underlying issues and their modus operandi.

    A general Google for other reviews of the business may yield more info.
     
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  8. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Cheers Scott No Mates. What's NSW Security of Payments legislation? How does it stuff them? How is it related to PPOR?

    In fact, they owe us money right now :(
     
  9. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Couldn't find any reviews other than their website (of course all positive). They gave us two references that I spoke with. Of course they were +ve. One couldn't speak English. Go figure.

    They were the most responsive ones and were bending backwards to get our business.....So nice to so not nice in the end. Hasn't been fun! We haven't been able to use our back yard and don't even have a clothes line 3 months on!
     
  10. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    Ouch. Sometimes when companies are easy to negotiate with it's a dead give away that they will charge that money back somewhere else!
    How far over the original estimate are you?
    What did fair trading recommend you do?
    I'd be losing my cool and threatening them with a horses head in their bed but I've watched too many Godfather movies.
     
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  11. Be Developer

    Be Developer Property Developer Business Member

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    Seems like your concern is safety and vandalism!

    If crossover isn't completed to council's expectations, you may have tough time getting bond back.
     
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  12. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    It's now done.......and resolved by sanding. But he quoted 3x to redo till we told him it was already fixed...
     
  13. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Hey Westminster...30% work is outstanding and 95% payments are done!
    Fair trading told us that he has already breached by doing >$20k job. They said to send him all these breaches along with an ultimatum. I didn't go in too direct in my "ultimatum" just said it needs to be complete by Friday. So no response thus far.......

    I feel as if they are taking advantage thinking that we don't know enough ..
     
  14. Gockie

    Gockie I'm an ISTP-A female, so I might be a bit quirky! Premium Member

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    What an absolute shocker!!! Sorry to hear this Ms Ali :(
     
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  15. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yeh he thought OUR insurance will pay anyway. I'm not sure if it should be our insurance? I didn't check too much into it. But I was surprised as it should have been his responsibility to ensure it was done and dried. Esp when he poured it on a Friday arvo
     
  16. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    PPOR is exempt from the legislation (affects all other properties).

    Mainly dictates the timeframes around payments - used by builders to ensure timely payment where as the owner you fail to respond within set time frames but can be used the other way around in absence of a response from the builder.
     
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  17. Cactus

    Cactus Well-Known Member

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    Its a risk, but sometimes if people know where something is going to end up if they don't complete they will begrudgingly complete to avoid the outcome.

    As for vandalism etc, this is a criminal action. If anything more happens I would inform the police.
     
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  18. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Cheers. Do you mean used the other way round to ask for a refund? ta
     
  19. MsAli

    MsAli Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks Cactus. The police were informed. But they can do little if there is no CCTV
     
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  20. Cactus

    Cactus Well-Known Member

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    The biggest one is where they issue a claim with a substantial variation. Unless you actually write and deny the variation within the statutory time period, it is considered approved and your in breach for not paying the full claim within the 28 days.