Should Our Builder Know The Excavation Height?

My parents are building a house on a property that slopes from left to right. Our neighbour filled his land up, and we excavated down. We are okay with splitting the costs of a retaining wall as suggested by the neighbour based on height above:height below natural ground level.

However for over a week now our builder has failed to provide us the excavation depth below natural ground level, citing 'I forgot', 'don't know what you mean', or just not responding to our messages.

What's up with this? Is it possible that he honestly doesn't know? I can't tell the depth from the house plans. Getting really frustrated and thinking of escalating to his area supervisor, or the developer's customer service.

Comments

  • +3 votes

    If he doesnt know then he isnt fit to do the job. He should definitely know the answer to that question.

    •  

      My parents have been having problems with him (that i didn't know about). For example, they upgraded the front door, but it was cracked when being installed (I don't know how much). Parents complained, and someone painted over the door, but the crack is still visible. They're not happy at all with that.

      Another problem was in the kitchen, the cupboard space was only half the depth specified, they complained to the builder, he didn't respond. My parents bumped into the kitchen installers, and they double checked, said they were given the wrong instructions, and then raised it with the builder, and reinstalled the right cupboards.

      There's a few other things too

      •  

        The door has to be changed. Don't even let them shirk the responsibility. Most non reconstituted (which I assume would be the upgrade) wood doors are planks that have been pressed together and then planed flush. If the planks are splitting, no amount of glue, much less paint, is going to remedy that problem.

        An average builder may not know much about excavation TBH. A good builder will make an attempt to know the entire plan but the excavation may very well be the engineers department and beyond the builder's comprehension.

  •  

    "Is it possible that he honestly doesn't know?"

    You do realise we do not know your builder and therefore do not know what he knows and what he doesn't know.

    Why don't you just ask him if he knows?

  •  

    The Builder as the company knows. This person you have asked might or might not know. Even if he knows he doesn't have to tell you verbally. Why don't you just email the Builder and request for information? This way you have written confirmation to show that you have requested it and also to your neighbour when you get the reply.

    •  

      Yep, we have done that now.
      Originally he vaguely replied with "according to your house plan, a retaining wall is to be built", and not answering how much the land was excavated. Asked him again, because we're not experts at house plans and just wanted a numerical answer. He didn't answer any calls or texts. Finally got an email when we contacted the developer's office, and had to ask all the same questions again.

  •  

    For your reference, you should be able to see the depths on plans marked with RL xxxx . That is Relative Level in metres or mm. The surveyor will have taken a height at a fixed point, presumably your concept of natural ground level (maybe marked as GL?), then you will see the height relative to that point

    I'm not suggesting that your builder is now in the clear or whatever, but at least you'll maybe be able to school him and prove that he's an idiot

    •  

      Thanks, someone else suggested this too.
      survey report says RL on their side was 32.03, and the two RL points on our house closest to our shared boundary say (front) 31.80 and (back) 31.90, which equates to 230mm or 130mm I'm guessing.

  •  

    If you haven't already got a contract with this guy, I'd get out of there.

    While "building" should be a builder's specialty, years of experience should have at least given him a pretty good idea of the other areas around his specialty.

    From what you've described, it almost sounds like he's never heard of the question you've asked him!

    •  

      The house is almost done! Too late I suppose.

      •  

        Yikes! I would try and double-check/confirm what happens next - especially if this is the same guy that's going to be physically building this wall.

        •  

          No the neighbours have taken the lead with getting the retaining wall done, getting the quotes etc.

  •  

    When you say builder, either he's a sole trader and is the building business (obviously subcontracting out various activities), or he's a building supervisor working for a building company. Which one is it? If it's the latter, escalate issues to head office if you don't get a satisfactory response from the building supervisor.

    •  

      Sorry, I meant building supervisor at a building company. We are escalating up today.

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