That was the challenge for Nicky Sissons after she found her recently landscaped garden “covered in rubble, wet cement and brick dust” from the construction of a conservatory next door.
“The builders asked if they could get access from my garden just for a day,” she says.
“I agreed as a favour and to be a good neighbour but then this happened,” she explained.
Nicky complained but then the main contractors, in their attempt to clean up, applied a harsh liquid that left her pale, perfectly placed paving smeared with lurid yellow stains and surface damage.
“Lime in the cement caused the first problems but then the cleaner left burn marks on the slates and it reacted with the binding agent,” explains Nicky.
“I saved for two years and paid £7,500 to get my garden done, seeing it now breaks my heart.”
Everest, the contractor, sent its project manager to assess the damage.
“He asked me to get a repair quote as soon as possible,” says Nicky.
“I did that and my landscaper said there needed to be substantial relaying.”
Everything seemed on track until she got a further message telling her to go ahead and pay and then submit her bill to Everest for reimbursement.
Worried if that didn’t happen she could be left chasing a large company and – as a lone individual – without the funds to go to court, that seemed too risky so she wanted payment upfront.
“It all went quiet,” she told Crusader.
“But now I’ve had a response saying the damage is hard to see and that they will not pay. This has been dragging on for six months and now I’m stuck in something not of my making.”
After we spoke to Everest it was agreed that an independent surveyor it would pay for could move matters along.
The company explained it was its policy to make amends when in the wrong but quotes had to be “fair”.
We also asked consumer affairs expert, solicitor Joanne Lezemore of consumer-genie.co.uk, to advise on Nicky’s next steps.
Contractors have a duty of care and where damage is caused a consumer could claim for all foreseeable losses incurred, she explains.
“Moreover, if an offer is made to put it right, that work must be carried out with reasonable skill and care. When considering a claim in negligence, someone does not have to have the work done first in order to bring a claim. What must be shown is how much it would cost to carry out the repairs.”
While an amicable solution is advisable, Lezemore adds: “It should be marked ‘without prejudice’ on the basis that the contractor confirms it has had no previous connection with the independent surveyor.
“Upon receipt of the report any landscape gardener is engaged by Everest so Ms Sissons does not have to pay the bill and the duty of care continues and the work will be completed to her satisfaction and within a reasonable period of time.”
At the end of last week it was confirmed that plans are in place for a surveyor to visit.
“Getting the advice has made such a difference,” says Nicky.
“I’m hoping we have all now turned a corner.”