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Homeowners Building Nightmare

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No one tells you about the months of cleanup after a renovation or home build.

Homeowners are left with an immeasurable amount of rubbish, leftover food waste, and drink containers, including glass, screws, nails, and building materials. It seems that however long it takes to construct the home or complete the renovation, it takes as long to clean up.

Plus, it’s not just the homeowners left with the mess; it’s also their neighbours, as the New Zealand news site Stuff reports.

As we like to compare ourselves with Australia, homeowners also put up with a lot more than our British counterparts. Here is an Australian homeowner’s nightmare experience with a building firm, so we’re not alone. While we put up with the ‘rough and ready’ inconsiderateness of builders and their subcontractors, the grass is much greener on the other side of the globe.

UK Builders Do It Better

UK builders do construction in residential areas better than our own. In New Zealand, homeowners believe they have to put up with foul language, loud music, and a ‘bomb site’ for a garden for months, whereas builders in the UK are far more considerate.

Stuff reports the Considerate Construction Scheme (CCS) in the UK. A building site is the ‘face’ of the business, and homeowners see its condition; therefore, it’s fair to say it will impact its reputation and homeowners’ perception of the industry. Thus, the CCS, a construction industry-created independent not-for-profit organization in 1997 to improve builders’ professionalism and on-site etiquette, and it’s working, with over 100,000 construction sites operating within its guidelines and the reputation of the industry on the way up.

The code of the CCS requires construction sites to:

  • adhere to health and safety requirements
  • take care of the appearance
  • Manage workers’ antisocial behaviour

Immaturity

Back in New Zealand, the ‘she’ll be right’ and ‘anything goes’ attitude of builders on site is unacceptable, and it’s like stepping back in time, maybe as far as the 1970s. Yes, we’re in the 21st century, but in many ways, you wouldn’t know it in some industries, with male chauvinism still ruling the business in every way.

According to the Stuff article, a female construction worker said the topless female calendar is still a thing at her place of work. Really? New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote, yet clearly, there’s a lot of work to do, and it’s more than a gentle reminder to homeowners experiencing the trials and tribulations of building.

As homeowners who recently got our home rebuilt, we can confirm we had a similar experience dealing with builders, subcontractors, and tradespeople, including their use of foul language when in earshot of neighbours. We also had a mountain of rubbish after the build, which was soul-destroying.

However, what annoyed us the most was that the house itself also needed a significant cleanup. Brand new windows and doors looked like they had years of grime and dirt on them, and there was no attempt by the supplier or the builder to clean them. Plus, inside the home, the new flooring also had paint splashes, dirt, and plaster dust, and it was there, so every surface needed a top-down clean, which we had to do.

I guess it was unreasonable for us to expect to receive a clean product after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on it!

I asked the builder: when you buy a brand new ute or car, do you expect it to be clean? Of course, was his answer. Ignorance is bliss until it isn’t.

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Expectations

Homeowners brave enough to push ahead with their refurb are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do they vacate the premises and live elsewhere during the build to avoid the chaos and deal with the mountains of waste to remove at the end of the project, or do they try and brave it out by living on-site and moaning workers to behave and cleaning up afterwards?

We chose the first option, preferring to live off-site. Our neighbours were very understanding even when they couldn’t get out of their driveways due to our workers blocking access.

Our neighbour’s rubbish bins were often left full too, as their collection providers said they couldn’t access them due to our workers’ vans.

Rubbish Bin Story

The builders often used our rubbish bin, which we left at home instead of taking to our temporary accommodation. They would see it as a convenience to move materials, and, even if we filled it for rubbish collection, they’d tip our rubbish out and carry on as usual as if it was theirs to do whatever they liked with it. We mentioned this oddity often, and we requested they don’t use it anymore; well, one day, it went missing altogether, and that was the end.

We learned to pick our battles as inevitably, you will get whatever they give you. Like many homeowners brave enough to go through the building process, we had no choice but to be complicit in their bad behaviour, just to get a well-built home.

Summary

Common decency should be extended to homeowners and their neighbours by all builders and their subcontractors. The word has gotten out, and it’s working in the UK with building firms willingly signing onto the Considerate Construction Scheme. When will our building sector wake up and instigate a similar code of conduct?

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