I met with the builder one evening last week. I had some queries about the bill for the work he had done and wanted to run through them before I paid him. He gave me 20minutes notice that he was coming round so I scarcely had time to find my paperwork before he was there.
My queries were simple. 'Why is the bill nearly double the estimate'. I had done my maths and my homework. I knew exactly what I had asked for as extras and I figured it would be a 20% increase on the original quote. You can imagine my horror when it was more like 70%.
I had tried to bring this up before but to no avail. My builder does not like to talk about money. Not at all. He likes to be given money without complaint. End of story.
Now, essentially, the builders did a good job, and at a good price. Even the inflated price was still a good price. But I resent being told something will cost X and then, once the work is completed, being told that actually is was Y + a few zeros.... I think that an estimate should be accurate within about 20%. I'm naive like that it seems.
Not a fan of paperwork, the invoice was a simple one sided page. On it was the original cost plus the extras which were lumped into two categories. Plastering and Joinery. I had already asked how the plastering had trebled in price when we had not done triple the amount of work. The builder produced his time sheet for 'time spent plastering'. Just one glance and I knew it wasn't accurate but what was I to do? he is the only builder for miles, also a neighbour, and I couldn't call him a liar to his face (quite happy to do so here though). I showed him the spreadsheet I had done which showed what was allowed for and what was extra. He went red and he went on the attack.
'Nobody else would have done this work for the price we did it' he spluttered.
'That's not the point' I replied 'you estimated for the work at the price you chose and that's why I went with you, not someone else'.
There was more spluttering and more along the same lines of what a bargain they were, how hard they worked, and that the cost is what it was. All this underlined with a sort of accusatory note that I was to blame for this and shouldn't be questioning him.
The thing is that in my line of work I run a lot of building jobs and I have never had this problem before. Then again I haven't had to deal with welsh builders before either.
The builder's son, who was there too, tried to calm him down and let me speak my piece, but to no avail. 'I've got men to pay, mortgage payments, children to feed' were all thrown into the mix. I felt myself flushing under the onslaught. I knew I was being steamrollered. I also knew that if I were a man I would not be in this position. If I were a man, or had rented a man for the evening, he would have a sane conversation about it and we would come to a compromise. I know this because other couples I know have used him and that is what has happened. 'He's very reasonable' the husbands say. Not this night he wasn't. My builder hates dealing with women and I was suffering because of it. I simply couldn't get him to listen.
To my intense rage and humiliation I felt my eyes well up and my throat tighten. These were tears of frustration and rage and though I could stop them welling over it was going to be obvious that they were there. I was fulfilling all his stereotypes and I was also being bullied into paying a bill that I didn't fully understand.
Several days later I am still bitter about it. I feel I have somehow failed myself. It is not the money (though now my emergency 'rainy day' savings have been horribly depleted which I hadn't wanted). It is the failure to communicate. That night, I felt that being single was not a good thing. I felt lonely.
The price of health
1 day ago