Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Let Down By UK Contractors Again!

We have been putting the house through some much needed updates and refurbishment. We had it built in 1984, and haven't done much to it since. We have installed two new bathrooms, a new kitchen, and a new back fence amongst this work. One last job we decided to undertake was to improve the driveway. Over 30 years it had sunk considerably, and we also now would like to increase its width.

In order to do this we embarked on the usual methodology of inviting specialist contractors to attend and quote. We did this during May this year - 2016. Some showed an interest, then didn't attend, another attended, spent an hour measuring up, left and we never saw him again. We ended up with two quotes, but one of those companies did not publish their address details on their website or quote - just an 0800 telephone number. This immediately caused suspicion of who I might be dealing with.

We awarded the work - not at all cheap - to a local company who had a professional looking website, and had 80 4.5* - 5.0* reviews on a review site that says it always checks the reviewers are genuine by verifying their details before publishing their review. This contractor also published his business address. He pointed out that he had work already booked in that would last 6 months, so could only start our driveway to our agreed specification within his quote, on the 19th September. We agreed, as being busy also seemed to confirm a reputable company.

The 19th September arrived with no sign of the contractor - he apologised and said he had been very busy, but would start work the next Monday the 26th. That came and went with no sign of a start. This time his digger had broken down! Unfortunately we now had an appointment in London, and I informed him he would have to start work on our return - to which he replied he would have our drive completed for our return home **ALARM BELLS**.

Undeterred, we went ahead, because our very good neighbour agreed to keep me informed about what was occurring while we were away. It transpired that the digging out had been contracted out, and his brief did not match the depth required for our agreed foundations. I rang my contractor again and put this to him. His excuse this time was he had farmed our whole job out to a "friend". He was sacked on the spot, as it then became apparent that our driveway was scheduled to be laid on no foundations at all other than what was already under the existing drive, and which we had discussed at length back in May were not suitable as the old drive had sunk. So what do you do when faced with a mess like this.......

Research the way it should be done and do it yourself!

The digger contractor had done a very good job - so we started from there. I used internet calculators to ascertain what materials we required to do what was needed and ordered 10 tonnes of MOT hardcore, 3 X rolls of geo-textile matting, 6 X Concrete border slabs, 40 brick blocks to be used to segregate the drive from the service strip, 2 X bags of cement and 6 X bags of sand. We got to work.

One of the tools I needed for this job was a compactor whacker plate. As my job would take some time, I decided against hiring and plumped for this at just under £200.....

Click here to view the Evolution Hulk Electro compactor plate.

As it turned out this machine is brilliant at what it is supposed to do, and at the price, a bargain.

The foundations were put down in layers, compacting between each one. Half way through the brick and concrete slabs were set in, before completing the foundation layer, compacted solid.

When this was complete 4 tonnes of red granite aggregate and 1 tonne of green granite aggregate was purchased to finish, again whacked in once spread.

We are very pleased with the results of our labour, and at a fraction of the cost the driveway "specialist" contractor wanted for what would have been sub-standard work if we hadn't been vigilant. How long did this take us? Just one week all finished.

I have said it before when a marina "ripped us off" with so called specialist work that later being found to be sub-standard resulted in the loss of our narrowboat - if you want a job done properly - DO IT YOURSELF!


  1. A new career in your retirement, I reckon ... You've already got the most important piece of equipment and you can hire the rest!

    Looks like a good job done well.

    Cheers, Marilyn

    1. Thanks Marilyn, but I don't want a retirement career even though my order book could be filled with all the comments from neighbours about the quality of work they watched develop into our finished driveway. We are pleased with the results.


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