You can’t be serious?!

seriousSo the reason for my long absence from my SEC blog was, in honesty, my disappointment that we couldn’t get 10 people together to continue with the South End Close Tenants and Resident’s Association (SECRA). There are a few people living in SEC who, like myself, wanted it to continue, but without the additional support needed we couldn’t continue. Such a shame when there are funds available to us to make improvements where we live.

My reason for writing this post today is following a conversation I had with one of my neighbours this morning and notification from another who wrote on my blog regarding the works that took place by Camden/Apollo on restoring the cold water pipes.

I was very pleased to hear that leaseholders have been given a reduction in their bill for the waterworks and I hope that my continued correspondence with Camden helped towards this. I have yet to receive my bill, but am hoping it too is far better than the original received for £4700+

However I wasn’t pleased to hear from another neighbour that she had opened a letter regarding the planned tiling of the porch floors. I came home and had received the same letter. SERIOUSLY? Am I really expected to pay £4503.12 towards flooring, let alone flooring I don’t even want? You may wonder why I don’t want it? Personally I think it will spoil the lovely 1920’s built buildings we live in, the sample of a deep cleaned floor we had been shown (the first in the 27 years I have lived here) produced great results, and let’s get real – judging by the history of Camden’s previous contractors, the work will cause nothing but nightmares yet again for all of us!

The letter says that we have now carried out a full validation survey to the property and it has resulted in an increase in the estimated cost for these works. The revised cost for the contract to your block is now £146,768.21 (including contractor overheads). So that gives me, as a leaseholder, a bill of £4503.12! Get real!

In an email to me of 16th December 2014, from Shamsul Alam, Contracts Manager of Camden Council, regarding the proposed tiling of the porches he wrote the estimated cost of the proposed tile floor per staircase entrance is estimated to be just over £13k including prelims, contractors overhead and profits.

As part of my reply I wrote On another note, I did receive your correspondence with regards to suggested porcelain tiles in our porches at a cost of £13347 per porch.

If this option went ahead, I noted that you stated ‘I am hoping to purchase additional tiles’ – with a cost as high as this, I think additional tiles would be imperative should any get damaged in future. If stock was suddenly discontinued, we would just be left with damaged tiles or unmatching tiles completely defeating the object of laying them in the first place.

My estimate for 15 porches at £13347 each = £200205. With 141 flats and 43 leaseholders (as far as I am aware), each leaseholder will be looking at approximately £1419 each. Is this correct? Or do these figures not include management costs, etc on top?

So how does the bill per leaseholder go from approximately £1419 each (in Dec 2014) to £4500 (in June 2015)?

I also requested that a survey take place asking whether those living in SEC wanted porcelain tiles or the existing flooring to be deep cleaned. The survey took place with questionnaires having to be returned by 5th Jan 2015 (despite the date at the top of the survey stating 5th Jan 2014!)

A short time later we had the results put up on the noticeboards –

30 voted for new flooring

16 voted to deep clean

1 vote did not specify either of the two options

So a grand total of 47 out of 141 flats responded.

My questions now are:

* How many of the 47 who responded are leaseholders?

* Given the astronomical amount leaseholders have only just been informed they are going to expected to pay (yet again) for this work, can we request another survey be done before this work is agreed?

* Given that only 33.33% of the flats in SEC actually responded to the survey, is this a valid enough result for Camden to go ahead with the decision to tile our porches?

By the way, my email to Mr Alam (when I believed that I would be looking at approx. £1419 for tiling work) also included

This would mean we have bills of £3500-£4700 for cold water pipe replacement, £2000+ for decoration of porches and £1400+ for flooring (should this go ahead). When will final costs options be provided to leaseholders and will this be prior to the work, be it cleaning or tiles, being approved?

Please don’t forget the nightmares we had with the simple task of painting of walls in our porches. As a reminder, here is another section of the same email I wrote to Mr Alam

My given figure of 4/5 workers was provided by both the caretaker and the workers on the estate. I am pleased to hear there were more when you paid your visit. However please do not forget that as the workers also informed me, there are many times when they are pulled away from SEC and move to jobs elsewhere, hence them saying how fed up they were.

Will the delays caused by accessing properties in order to paint the doors cause an increase in our final bill? I one tenant telling me yesterday that she waited in for a whole  day for a decorator to paint her door and he didn’t turn up!

With regards to a reduction in the cost of care-taking, I don’t think this should be an ‘if the bill will be reduced’ as there is simply no question that this bill should be reduced. Our porch hasn’t been touched since August. I look forward to Sue’s response on this.

 I absolutely understand that there will inevitably be some disruption and inconvenience caused to residents with any work taking place, however this job has been badly managed. There is no excuse for starting a job and then leaving it unfinished for over two months leaving us to live in the conditions featured in my videos. It is disrespectful to both the tenants and leaseholders. No one is asking for compensation, but we are asking for those in charge to pay more attention to ensure that those you have chosen to employ do the job properly and efficiently. This has not been the case.

Unsurprisingly, despite an email from Mr Amal stating that the caretakers fee would be reduced due to the fact that he couldn’t clean our porches for months, my Service Fee invoice did not reflect any form of refund.

I end today’s blog with my last comments written in my email of 16th December to Mr Amal

In a current climate where the cost of living is increasing and salaries aren’t, it is no wonder so many of those who are leaseholders in SEC are currently selling their properties or renting them for small fortunes. I have lived in SEC for over 26 years and didn’t buy to rent, I brought to hopefully live here for many years to come. With a heavy heart, thanks to Camden’s horrendous charges for jobs that never fail to be badly managed and cause upset, I may join those in either renting my property for profit so that Camden’s bills are far less painful or will be putting my home on the market in the very near future.

Residents of SEC, I welcome any comments you may have.

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2 Responses to You can’t be serious?!

  1. Yuwan Liu says:

    Hi Pier, actually like yourself I want to continue work together with the South End Close Tenants and Resident’s Association (SECRA) to make improvement projects more cost efficient.

    In fact I agree with you that I don’t even want the tiling of the porch floors either and voted for a deep cleaned floor instead. So your questions are right:
    1. How many of the 47 who responded are leaseholders?
    – if less than 50% leaseholders voted for the tiling of the porch floors but the council still insist to go for it, then please explain are there any health and safety reason can’t do a deep cleaned floor instead?
    2. Given the astronomical amount leaseholders have only just been informed they are going to expected to pay (yet again) for this work, can we request another survey be done before this work is agreed?
    – yes, we need to know how many leaseholders voted for what option.
    3. Given that only 33.33% of the flats in SEC actually responded to the survey, is this a valid enough result for Camden to go ahead with the decision to tile our porches?
    – obviously it’s NOT valid, as it’s less than 50% of SEC people voted hence it’s not sufficiently representative.

    I also received an estimated charge (£3441.44) from Mr Victor Akinbisehin for ‘Spring Clearn. In the letter, they gave me the flooring costs for staircase for 111-120 (which is wrong block for me, but it can be indicate figure), £12,028.11, if it is averaged by 10 flats, each need pay £1200.


  2. Yuwan Liu says:

    Also here are our further enquires to the Water Services Manager, David Cattell regarding to the water work/project:
    Sent: 23 June 2015 14:13
    To: Cattell, David
    Cc: Ford, Rhianne
    Subject: RE: FW: MWP11/119 380

    Hi David

    1. We have requested LH services for the invoice with full breakdown for costs that you received from Apollo before we can verify that we are not being overcharged and/or paying for unnecessary work.
    2. Even if the partnering arrangement Camden entered into Borough-wide on which LH were consulted that does not means the contractor can charge any fees without any justifications. So we still need to see detailed justifications for these fees:
    – Fixed Fee 7.07% 29,506.88 £208.29
    – Performance Fee 1.00% 4,173.53 £29.46
    – Contractors Running Costs 14.36% 59,932.19 £423.06
    – TOTAL RECHARGEABLE COSTS £510,965.88 £3,606.86
    – Management Fee 10.00% £360.69
    3. You said the site set up suggested most residents were happy with the works, but Ms Pier Reid said at that website:
    So should I have been directing our request for transparency on the invoiced amount for Apollo from David Cattell? In which case, David could you please provide the invoice breakdown which you received from Apollo?
    I am really starting to feel like we’re going round in circles! Surely this should be a simple request. “
    4. Please let us know how to get access to the refurbished Tank rooms to assist the SEC leaseholders’ inspection.

    But David replied:
    Dear Yuwan,
    See attachments

    David Cattell
    Water Services Manager
    And here are the attachments:
    Sent: Fri 19/06/2015 07:52
    1. LH services
    2. These are not duplicated .It is the partnering arrangement Camden entered into Borough-wide on which I believe all LH were consulted. From my experience in the construction industry this is good value. In other Local Authorities where I have worked access to properties for example (A programmers nightmare at the best of times all failed access was charged for .On this site it is included automatically at no extra cost to Camden.
    3. Estimated costs were the BAFO price. “Invoice” is Final Account LH Services have this. The site set up suggested most residents were happy with the works. Problems were dealt with locally by the site contract manager and his team. This did include work in LH properties for which they were not charged. The invoice breakdown is the final account that was sent to LH services. I went through this and suggested a number of items although vital to the project were not to be charged to LH.I had an independent QS look at the account and they were happy with it.
    4. Answered
    5. Tank Rooms in roof space.

    David Cattell
    Water Services Manager
    And his reply before:
    Sent: Wed 17/06/2015 11:11
    Hi ,
    1. I have asked LH services to deduct the charges I previously highlighted. See above.
    2. These figures are part of the partnering arrangement .
    3. There was a lot of consultation I attended meetings with Apollo and Pier Reid on numerous occasions.
    4. This article has nothing to do with this project. It was tendered under the partnering arrangement against Apollo’s BAFO price (Best and Fairest Offer) which is the benchmark . The Supply chain contractor then bids and comes under the BAFO price.
    5. There are no photos .The work was mainly underground mains work with new mains rising up the back of the properties and clad neatly with Insulation.
    6. Complaints were dealt with by the on –site agent .
    I have no further comments as I have commented on the rest of the email on several occasions.(These were the comments of Pier Reid)

    David Cattell
    Water Services Manager
    If any SEC leaseholder believe David have already indeed answered our queries above, please put your comments here. Thanks!


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