Dream bathroom design becomes nightmare in botched installation

Barbara Bulmer had been resisting the urge to give her family bathroom some much needed ‘TLC’ for a number of years, so when the time came for a designer make-over, she wanted to make sure it was done to the highest standard.

“We wanted the complete package” said Barbara, “Quality was everything – we wanted something stylish and modern, having lived with a tired design for so long.”

Barbara chose a bathroom showroom and design company in the affluent village of Hale, Cheshire, to deliver this design.

“At first we were really impressed. Everything looked beautiful and of excellent quality. However, we soon changed our minds. We were given a rough pencil sketch of the new bathroom, rather than a detailed plan or rendering. The plans included half of what I had asked for and my dream bath was nowhere to be seen.

“Perhaps alarm bells should have started ringing, but the affluent and trustworthy appearance of the showroom assured us that they knew what they were doing.

“We expected the work to start on a Monday, but nobody arrived until a full week later. We expected a team of people, with specialist tillers, plumbers and electricians, but only one person turned up. The job was estimated to take no more than two, maybe three, weeks. In fact, it took more than twice the time. The workman regularly left the house in the middle of the day for a seemingly endless list of unrelated errands.

“What we were left with defied belief. The tiles were misaligned, as was the sealant and grouting. A five inch step had been installed below the open shower, which was something we hadn’t asked for. My son is 6’5” and couldn’t even fit under the shower head. The extractor didn’t work and within weeks the vanity unit under the sink fell to bits.

“We had tried to point out the problems as the project went along but all we got was a shrug of the shoulders and excuses. We sent countless letters, emails and made calls to the company’s showroom, all to no avail. We even brought in tradesmen to quote for fixing the issues but everything was in such a mess that they just told us to rip it out and start again.

“To make matters worse, the company threatened us with legal action for refusing to pay an outstanding amount, which was due on ‘satisfactory completion of the work’.

“We needed help, so I contacted Stephensons. From the very first meeting, the attitude was very positive and I started to feel as if there was a real chance of the situation being put right. Our dispute resolution solicitor, Asim, was excellent. He understood our frustration and set about turning the negatives into a solid case. Six months after the first meeting with Stephensons, the company agreed to reimburse us for the full amount we paid.

“Without Stephensons’ help, I think we would still be arguing, suffering the constant threats and living with the fear of legal action. Now we’re planning to have the whole bathroom re-done and hope that we will finally get the design we want and deserve.”