website is a client
review of building works (a
small ground-floor extension as shown
in the header above)
carried out by Chris Deighton Builders
Ltd of March, Cambridgeshire in 2013/14,
including details of poor and shoddy
worksmanship, waste, deadline breaches,
repeated over-charging, failure to take
and follow instructions, failure to
follow plans and subsequent and ongoing
Deighton Builders were originally recommended
by local consulting engineers, Morton
& Hall and local plumber, James
Harradine as the construction brief
was more sensitive than usual with a
single, 90-year-old lady to remain resident
while the works were carried out; and
her son, responsible for commissioning
the work, living and working in France
and only able to visit the site on an
The original, inclusive quotation
which was submitted on the 28.09.2013,
was for £52,560.00
(VAT included). This
was widely regarded as 'expensive' for
the work entailed.
within less than a week (02.09.2013),
an email was received from Deighton
which read, "I have relooked
at plans and regs and there is a lot
of underpinning to do and shore up next
doors building and build up neighbouring
wall. This adds £3,800 to the
job so price is nearer £44,000
again, the wider reaction was that someone
claiming to be a professional builder
who had apparently overlooked such basics
as 'underpinning and shoring up"
when preparing a quotation, beggared
belief. Furthermore, these extra works
were finally never undertaken - although
no adjustment after payment was offered,
cost. By the time Deighton submitted
his final invoice on
21.03.2014 the grand total had reached
of invoices plus £3000 in cash)
- almost £23,000 more than
the original quotation - and £15,000
more than a revised 'estimate' given
by Deighton mid-works for 'extras'.
a further £1000
(approx) of cash payments to other plumbers
for works which Deighton and his plumber
failed to complete. (While remedial
plumbing work at the property is ongoing:
bring boiler to correct working pressure;
replace boiler pump; replace underfloor
heating pump, etc, etc.)
factor. In addition to the cost,
the work, originally estimated to take
"two to three months",
dragged on for almost five months causing
a significant deterioration to the health
of the 90-year-old occupant, inconvenience
to neighbours and time, travel and opportunity
losses to the client.
One man ('the' builder), a van,
a cement mixer, a petrol-engined disc
cutter, bricklaying tools, The Sun,
thermos flask, pack-up - and as per
subsequent invoicing, 'High Hopes'.
Elements of the worksmanship were
shabby, bodged and unprofessional. Departures
from the plans took place regularly
and without discussion, despite a watching
brief by local consultant engineers
and architects of the extension plans,
Catalogue of Incompetence
should be remembered at all times when
considering Deighton's workmanship and
Morton & Hall's monitoring, is that
the remit for all works was to facilitate
usage by a person who was elderly, infirm
and/or disabled, including confinement
to a wheelchair. The
following is what was actually provided.
of the longest-standing of the extension's
legacies was and remains, the garage
door. At the beginning of November 2013
a manual, sliding garage door was ordered
with a Deighton supplier, Fenland
Garage Doors. It was emphasised
repeatedly to the salesman (and Deighton)
that the door should be of manual operation
for ease of use and reliability.
months later, when the door was eventually
delivered and fitted, it was an electrically
and remote-controlled model which both
Deighton and his supplier had decided
to order instead, without discussion
or consultation with the client.
the door was reluctantly signed off
by the client, this was on the basis
that its electrical operation could
be over-ridden manually (in the event
of a power failure, for example.) But
in effect, the door could NOT be over-ridden
manually from outside; and from indoors,
the mode could only be altered at a
height of 6 feet - clearly beyond the
scope and capacity of someone who was
a short, infirm 90-year-old. (Much less
the operation of a small, easy-to-lose
remote control which the occupant could
conversion to manual operation on safety
grounds was requested and although the
suppliers reluctantly agreed to the
conversion, twelve months later, the
correct replacement mechanism still
hadn't been received from the manufacturer.
See: Right of Reply
#1 and Right
of Reply #2.
2. Garage floor.
an area which was intended - and explained
- to be for leisure and storage use
rather than parking a car, the concrete
floor slab was of poor quality. The
surface was not smooth or regular, the
edges hadn't been trimmed nor filled
and there were numerous impact marks.
was assumed, (especially as Deighton
had immediately blinded over the concrete
with sand to hide its imperfections)
that a screed would eventually be applied.
when the screed failed to materialise
and the quality of the slab was challenged,
Deighton maintained that its finish
did not see fit however, to include
his interpretation of "good"
in his quotation which was of itself,
a masterpiece of brevity. It could be
assumed therefore that from a client's
point of view, Deighton's "good"
= layman's "crap".
was particularly surprising is that
hiring a concrete grinder and tidying
up the floor would have taken no more
than half a day. However, for Deighton,
this was too much effort and expense.
3. Garage roof and roof insulation.
the purposes of supporting a roof covering
of light artificial slate, a few laths
and a membrane, one could be forgiven
for thinking the truss design and construction
was 'over the top', utilising more wood
than the hull of the HMS Victory and
resulting in almost negligible, usable
storage space which had been requested
Deighton's efforts at then insulating
the roof space, were a master class
refused to apply roof insulation from
above the construction because it was
the day before his three-week Christmas
break, the only remaining solution was
to finally try and stuff the uselessly-thin
insulation up and between the joists,
holding it in place with rapidly peeling
strips of tape.
there was a skilled and professional
carpenter on site, Deighton preferred
to bodge the work himself in order (one
imagines) to justify further inflated
4. Front door.
the overall fitting of doors and windows
to this extension was of a good standard
(Fox Windows, March), exceptionally,
the front door proved problematic.
some reason, it was sticking quite badly
immediately it was fitted and to such
an extent that the bottom seal tore
the fitter returned to try and rectify
the problem, his solution was to cut
away the rubber seal completely without
replacing it and to adjust the door
height. Unfortunately, this caused the
lock to stick, instead.
third visit saw the seal replaced and
the door adjusted again but at best,
the solution this time was just a compromise,
as the door still continued to stick
albeit not as badly as before; and the
lock mechanism worked albeit not smoothly.
the fitter claimed he knew where the
high point was - but did nothing about
this last visit, the sticking has persisted;
plus, the door handle to the interior
has now snapped off. And the new rear
garage door has started to stick as
well. However, see Right
of Reply and Updates.
Hallway and hallway door.
size of the hallway and the positioning
of the hallway door, are departures
from the plans. Both Deighton and Morton
& Hall took it upon themselves to
deviate from the original layout for
reasons which remain unclear to this
day. And once again, these changes were
not mentioned to, nor agreed, with the
did suggest that the size of the shower
tray eventually fitted in the adjacent
bathroom was not as shown in the plans
and consequently, Deighton built the
bathroom/hallway party wall to accommodate
the comfort zone of the plumber - his
'mate': the selfsame plumber - James
Harradine - who had recommended Deighton
in the first instance.)
consequent loss of symmetry to the hallway
door speaks for itself.
bathroom was intended to be as user-friendly
for an older, infirm or disabled person
as possible. In the event, it was once
again a departure from the plans and
riddled with poor workmanship.
The plans showed a corner sink unit
to maximise space and accessibility.
A standard sink unit was fitted instead.
Furthermore, waste in the bowl could
only be evacuated by placing one's
hand into the dirty water to depress
the plug; there was no external mechanism
for draining the contents of the bowl.
Whereas the choice of a single lever
mixer tap was totally inappropriate
for someone who was elderly and infirm.
toilet base was not fixed to the floor
in any way and rocked every time anyone
sat on it.
shower screen was too narrow, allowing
an excessive amount of water to splash
out onto the floor.
shower mixer manifold was visibly
out of horizontal.
once again, there was no client discussion
or approval sought for the choices
made by Deighton or his plumber.
the extension where new skirting was
fitted, this has shrunk considerably
as it dried out on the laminate floor
covering the underfloor heating.
gaps throughout are considered too wide
to be filled with mastic as the laminate
floor must be allowed to 'float' and
the only professional solution would
appear to be replacement with composite,
rather than damp, wooden skirting as
supplied by Deighton.
most aspects of finishing (plasterwork,
painting, etc) were good, niggles remained
which, given the cost of this project,
were simply unacceptable.
detail between two, waist-level electrical
sockets for example, was unfinished.
Fiddly this may have been for the plasterer
and it could also be argued that the
painters and decorators could have filled
this imperfection before painting. But
the fitted sink unit shows further unfinished
workmanship, with the painting stopping
short of a full finish up to and around
the underfloor heating matrix. Which,
incidentally, is a further example of
plumbing without any consideration for
a standard cupboard layout to follow,
and shows the hole which had to be cut
out in the side of the unit to accommodate
the excessively offset installation.
The Great Cement Ridge Mystery.
the course of the underfloor heating
being screeded over, (a finish which
was once again, visibly uneven) Deighton
asked for a cement ridge to be applied
to part of the adjoining room floor.
For whatever reason.
this day no rational explanation for
this 'work' has been received. However,
the ridge was sufficiently pronounced
to be felt through both underlay and
a thick carpet, all of which had to
be subsequently uplifted for the ridge
to be removed before being re-fitted
building surveyors and a legal specialist
were consulted after completion of the
building works, as the most serious
and potentially costly of the consequences
of the work were the regular departure
from approved plans without client consultation
of the surveyor's reports makes the
following observations: "However,
there have clearly been departures from
the plans prepared by Morton Hall Consulting
Ltd, the reason(s) for most, if not
all, of which are not clear. 1 understand
they were made without prior discussion
or your (client) agreement.
All drawings show the new garage abutting
the gable of the neighbour's barn, with
200mm x 100mm x 8mm RHS steel posts
incorporated within the new brickwork,
up to eaves level of the extension,
to support the barn gable.
built, the garage stands wholly independent
of the neighbour's barn, with a clear
gap of approximately 200mm between the
two structures. There is no evidence
to suggest any steelwork has been incorporated
to support the barn gable. (Editorial
note. This gap also shows the building
debris left behind by Deighton which
he eventually 'disguised' with a covering
of sand - but only after he had received
a letter from the client's solicitor
to clear this waste.)
understand it was your (client)
intention, at some time in the future,
to introduce a connecting door between
the garage and barn, which will clearly
be more difficult to achieve now that
the two structures are totally independent
of each other.
All drawings show the rear and splayed
side wall of the extension being carried
up to form a low parapet finished with
a red engineering brick coping over
a tile creasing, and enclosing a fully
lead lined valley gutter. The valley
gutter thus formed is shown as being
drained via an internal downpipe into
the eaves gutter at the front of the
suspect this rather complicated, difficult
to maintain and potentially troublesome
arrangement was designed to prevent
encroachment onto the adjoining owner's
land, as the rear wall formed the
boundary between the two properties.
built the extension is formed with a
traditional eaves and gutter arrangement
at both front and rear.
is my understanding that a strip of
land was purchased from the adjoining
owner to facilitate the introduction
of an additional door and windows in
the rear elevation, which also enabled
the change to a traditional overhanging
eaves detail. (Editorial
note: The strip of land in question
was bought from the neighbour for £10,000,
not so much to facilitate changes in
construction detail but to avoid potential
litigation after additional windows
were inset into the facing wall without
consultation with, or the approval of
the neighbour, and after neither Deighton
nor Morton & Hall, seemed to consider
it necessary to even mention this potential
problem. Consequently, one could add
that £10,000 (plus solicitor's
and administration fees) to the overall
cost of the build, bringing it finally,
Some room dimensions differ from those
shown on the approved drawings.
garage (on the latest drawing nurnbered
H3418/02G) is shown as being 5.565m
long by 4.115m wide. Site measurement
shows it to be approximately 5.685m
long by 3.88m wide, marginally longer
but some 235mm narrower, as a result
of the structure being built away from
the gable wall of the neighbour's barn.
bedroom is shown as being 3.975m long
by 3.35m wide where narrowest at the
front. As built the room is approximately
4.095m long by 3.28m wide at the front
increasing to 3.915m at the rear. Again
marginally longer by slightly narrower
than as proposed.
shower room is shown as being 2.8m wide
by 1.565m deep, whereas it measures
approximately 2.74m by 1.485m, slightly
smaller in both dimensions.
hallway is shown as being 1.1m wide
whereas it measures approximately 1.23m.
or two door positions are also marginally
different to those shown on the drawings,
as are the door swings, both those from
the hall to the shower room and to the
bedroom being different to what is shown
The layout of the sanitary ware in the
shower room is not as shown on the approved
drawings shows an 800mm square shower
tray, and the accompanying notes describe
the shower as being set on a 100mm raised
plinth. Adjacent to the shower is shown
a close coupled wc suite and there is
a corner basin.
a corner basin is shown, a standard
wall mounted pedestal basin has been
fitted. As a result the basin encroaches
upon the space dedicated to the wc and
adversely impacts upon the use of the
wc by a wheelchair dependant occupier.
The basin also restricts the space available
for the fitting of grab rails and the
to remind ourselves, Deighton estimated
the extension duration at between two
and three months. Professional opinion
estimated the build should have taken
no more than six to eight weeks.
the event, Deighton took four and a
half months and even this was under
protest, as neighbours became increasingly
unhappy with his nuisance parking while
nothing much actually seemed to be happening
and effectively, more time was spent
on delays than actually making progress.
should be borne in mind is that although
'Chris Deighton Builders Ltd' suggests
a firm, it is in fact, a mere bricklayer
(without even a labourer on this occasion)
and all other work was performed by
sub-contractors - even down to the simplest
of concrete shuttering and small areas
and site clearance was a week late starting
and took almost another week longer
than originally forecast.
were delayed by two to three weeks when
consulting engineers Morton & Hall
belatedly decided to introduce additional
supporting steelwork, even though the
load from the new wall was inferior
to that of the original wall which had
not shown signs of stress or movement
for over a hundred years; and the existence
of identical steel reinforcement in
parallel to the steelwork proposed,
already present in a neighbour's extension,
just one metre away.
the steel was a stock item, Deighton's
'mates' who were responsible for the
groundwork were unavailable for a further
two weeks, which meant that within the
first month alone, there was already
a month's delay.
3. Consequently, by the time Deighton
had managed to erect the walls and the
roof trusses had been secured, Christmas
was looming and without a finished roof,
doors or windows, the 90-year-old occupant's
plans for a family reunion, were ruined.
At that age, possibly her last chance
of a family reunion.
for Deighton and his 'mates', the Christmas/New
Year holiday break took, to all intents
and purposes, three weeks. Even into
the fourth week, no significant progress
was made other than slating over the
4. Merging the new extension with
a single room of the 'old' house - five
weeks. A job which took a long weekend
or 'short' week in the client's adjacent
properties, ran for five weeks on this
occasion, mainly for two reasons.
one of Deighton's 'mates' - the electrician
this time - had to go to another job
for over two weeks, leaving his work
half-finished - and the build delayed
- until he returned.
Deighton himself took two weeks to make
an opening in a brick wall for a window
sized approximately 4' x 3'; then, there
was a further two week delay when the
window which had been ordered arrived
but was the wrong size and had to be
sent back. And finally, another two
weeks for the replacement window to
arrive and be installed.
Deighton had thrown away (or given away
to another one of his 'mates') a second-hand
window of the same size, in perfect
condition, which he had removed from
another wall in the same room.
consequential impact on the health and
state of mind of the 90-year-old occupant
as a result of these delays, the dust,
the noise, inadequate draught-proofing
and basic creature comforts, was considerable
and unexpected hospitalisation occurred
on two occasions shortly after the build
was finally terminated.
5. Supply and fitting of the garage
door. Four months for this delay, which
was nothing more than an off-the-shelf
item in Europe where the door was manufactured
(Hormann) and supplied and fitted
by Fenland Garage Doors.
normal circumstances, it would have
been a relatively simple matter for
Deighton to have been relieved of this
project once problems and delays became
apparent; to have found other tradesmen
to have completed the work; and even
to have taken matters to litigation
there were two critical elements to
this build which Deighton manipulated
to his advantage.
the well-being of the frail, 90-year-old
occupant and the need to try and complete
the works with a minimum of further
delays and disruption which obviously,
finding different tradesmen and engaging
in a dispute would only have aggravated.
secondly, the regular absences
of the son who lived in France, who
was unable to monitor progress, or the
lack of it, on a permanent basis.
the most critical element of this project
as delays and costs continued to mount,
was to get Deighton off the site with
as much of the work completed as possible
and without exacerbating a worsening
included a termination without any form
of guarantee, written, verbal or implied.
professional opinion -
two chartered surveyors and a solicitor
who added a further £2000 to overall
costs - was unanimous. Although all
parties agreed there were 'issues',
the lack of specific written instructions
from the client,
allied to no formal complaints being
made until AFTER the construction work
was 'finished', were seen as key
obstacles to obtaining a client-favourable
addition, despite repeated and non-approved
departures from the plans - which are
of themselves a client's 'written instructions'
- Deighton's workmanship was largely
considered, nonetheless, to be of an
industry acceptable standard.
a client's point of view, on the other
hand, especially one who has paid out
virtually £90,000 for a project
which wasn't even worth half that, Deighton
isn't fit for purpose. And if his standards
are 'industry acceptable' then that
industry isn't fit for purpose, either.
would explain why even the construction
sectors' trade bodies have long since
given up trying to police and accredit
their patch, leaving just the media
to present an industry-unique series
of reality television programmes dedicated
to the country's national epidemic of
crooks and cowboys posing as 'builders'
and related 'services'.
within six months of the extension being
'completed', the elderly occupant could
no longer cope with the slovenly and
inappropriate workmanship which included
the step between her bedroom and the
garage falling apart and causing an
accident; saddened by the fact that
she could not safely use the garage
area for her gardening or simply sitting
under cover watching the neighbours
come and go because the garage door
wouldn't work as she had hoped; and
left endlessly dangling for solutions
to these and other problems, the decision
was taken for her to quit the property
altogether - after having lived there
more or less, for over fifty years.
threads indicating the time scales of
Fenland Garage Doors responding 'immediately'
to problems with their installation.
And two years later, problems remain.
client to Chris Deighton.
Unfortunately, whether as a result of
something you may have done while putting
in the step or not, the garage door
repeatedly stalled when I tried to close
it a little while ago.
I couldn't find any obstruction so
I put it into manual and reset it and
eventually, it closed. However, to ensure
there are no repeats of the problem,
especially with my mother trying to
use the door, I have pulled the plug
on the motor and the door is now completely
out of service.
However, the episode confirms my aversion
to an electric system and its total
unsuitability as an installation for
use by someone who is as infirm as my
I would be grateful therefore if the
installers were ready to convert the
door to manual-only operation when I
get back in 3-4 weeks' time and not
just talk about it.
From client to Chris Deighton.
Could you just confirm that your garage
door supplier is ready to convert the
door to manual operation, please?
The police/emergency services are keyholders
to the garage door as a second means
of entry to the property but due to
the door's problems, that option is
currently unavailable to them.
If your door suppliers are unable to
make the necessary modification, then
I have had preliminary discussions with
an alternative supplier who assures
me they will be able to manufacture
and fit a suitable replacement door
at short notice.
From Chris Deighton to client.
Sorry being a while coming back to you,
of Fenland Garage Doors)
is very elusive to get hold of.
If you are still in England, he can
pop in this Friday morning (22nd august)
to explain how this new lock will work.
He says it's will cost about £110
+ vat, you can pay him and deal with
him direct .
Please can you let me know ASAP if
the visit Friday is possible as I need
to let Paul know ASAP.
Again, sorry for any delay.
Finally, Fenland Garage Doors' 'immediate'
response to the problems of their installation
fitted on 17th of February 2014.
Its taken all week to finally get from
Hormann the information (see thread
below) relating to the conversion of
this door to manual. Frankly I'm shocked
at the costs of the various bits and
although I'm happy to take the automation
back and do the conversion F.O.C, I
can't see there being any refund for
converting to manual because as spare
parts, its working out more costly.
Also note Hormann have quoted 3-4 weeks
on the parts. I'm sorry about this but
Hormann are a global distributor and
I have not way to sway this any sooner
otherwise I would do so.
I hope this is acceptable.
Paul (Arnold, MD, Fenland Garage
From Fox Windows, March.
Not sure if you aware
but I visited your property on Friday
3rd June 2016. I supplied a new handle
which I fitted to the front door and
then refitted the existing handle to
the garage door. I adjusted the garage
door so it now does not stick or rub
on the threshold. I also made an adjustment
to the front door which has helped to
ease the locking of it.
Your tenant was happy with the work
done and I hope you will find the same.
I have attached an invoice for the
replacement handle and fitting of for
your kind attention.
Regards Paul Fox
Fox's modest invoice for a replacement
door handle, has been paid with thanks.