Roger's rant: Against my better judgment
I am currently working on the building site from hell. It was a job I took on against my better judgment. When I was pricing it alarm bells were ringing in my head because there was a new spec and drawing almost every day. The job itself isn’t actually that bad; it is a complete replumb on a large central London house with an ensuite on every bedroom and underfloor heating throughout. The money is good but what makes it so difficult is the bloke running it. He calls himself a builder but he seems to have no idea. Almost daily my mate and I enter into protracted arguments with him about the difference between the way he does things in the Middle East and the way we do it here. Invariably we walk off the job in protest at the latest demands. We only go back because the client, who is a lovely person deserving of much better than this site agent, pleads for us to come back.
Quite what his appeal is we don’t know but there is some kind of family link and it doesn’t do to enquire too deeply. There isn’t a day goes by when the drawing doesn’t have an amendment; the boiler has been in three places, the shower room has changed, the bathroom has been turned 90 degrees and every pipe run is moved and moved again. We have three 90 degree spigot bends one after another on a horizontal soil run because he suddenly discovered that an RSJ was in the way.
It isn’t just us, every trade in the house has been subjected to the same kind of lunacy. Walls move, doors are altered and crazy demands are made. As is common on most building sites these days, there is every nationality under the sun. We all rub along very well and have a laugh and a joke, united in our hatred of the common enemy. We have been on to him for weeks to supply a Portaloo but he gives us a bucket.
His latest demand is that we turn on the central heating to dry out the screed. It was laid over our pipes only six days ago and he wants us to fire up the heating and dry it out so he can lay the oak flooring. I have told him it will crack and turn to powder if the moisture isn’t allowed to stay in it long enough for it to complete its hydration, which is 28 days give or take, but Abdul knows best. Despite the fact that some of the tradesmen speak little English they all have “Abdul knows best” word perfect. For our part we are learning lots of new languages… or at least the swear words.