Avoid Chris Birch and CB Services at all cost!
The short version:
Didn't finish the job (not even half done!).
Asked for more money up front several times.
Messed up ordering the main component of the job (a staircase).
Delivered a less than half-done job (leaving us with a loft we can’t safely get in to).
The long version: We left Christopher Birch of CB Services to put in a staircase to our loft. We were away on holiday for a week and he promised us that the job would be finished when we returned. We agreed payment of £1550 for labour, £1000 for materials (including £450 for the staircase). Material cost paid upfront. Labour cost paid on completion.
Four days in, we had a phone call from his friend, Peter Barnett from Prestige Plastering, who explained that there had been a problem with the staircase that Chris Birch had ordered. It was wrong, the measurements he
(Chris) had sent to the stair company had been wrong, so the staircase was too long for the space it was supposed to go in to (cutting it down would mean the steps were not at a 90 degree angle).
Chris was in the background, audibly agitated and upset about the situation.
Peter said that they had talked about it, and the best way to rectify the situation in their view, would be to use the staircase that had been delivered but put it into the loft through the bedroom rather than the landing, this way it would fit!! As this would mean taking out over a quarter of our bedroom, we did not agree!
We then spoke with Chris after he had composed himself. He apologised, tried to say that it was the stair company's fault - he said he had sent them the measurements and they had taken them down wrong. We said that if this was a mistake on the part of the stair company, then surely they would rectify it and just send us the right stairs. It turned out that the fault was not theirs, it was a simple case of Chris messing up the measurements in the first place.
During this conversation he tried to get us to pay him £750 so he could pay his plasterer (Peter Barnett from Prestige Plastering). Note that the full labour cost was £1550 and the plastering Peter Barnett had done at this stage was less than half of what needed doing. Needless to say, we did not agree to pay this.
At the end of this conversation, we left Chris to sort out the mess with the stairs. He said a new staircase would arrive 5-7 days later and then he would come to finish the job.
We did not believe that the mistake had been the stair company's. We did not believe that he needed to pay the plasterer the full £750 - we assumed he needed this extra money to pay for new stairs. But we decided to give Chris the chance to make things right and kept the tone nice throughout.
When we came home from our holiday, we were very upset to see the complete mess Chris and his team had left the house in! The sanding of the plasterwork done in the loft, had been done with all but one door closed in the rest of the house. There was dust EVERYWHERE! There were black marks on tables and other surfaces (assuming this was from cups) and there were dirty cups left in the sink. It took hours to clean up!
We didn't hear from Chris for two weeks. He didn't respond to our many texts and emails, didn't answer our calls.
Then we had this in an email from Chris:
I apologise for not getting back to you sooner.
My van is now off the road due to the alternator failing, thus not being able to start.
Also my phone again is now going in for repair for the 2nd time in 3 months, my car is also of the road too.
All I can do is apologise, as soon as both have been repaired I can give you a definitive answer as to when I can finish.
Needless to say, we found this very hard to believe, but we kept the tone nice as we had throughout, and waited again.
Another 10 days later, after Chris had ignored a fair few emails and texts, we had this:
I am unfortunately closing CB Services down as I getting ever so ill.
I had taken the last week to try and get better but it wasn't the case, and am needing more time.
I do apologise for all of this and this is something beyond my control.
Pete will be in touch with you soon.
We have heard from Peter Barnett from Prestige Plastering. He asked to be paid for the part of the work he had done. We informed him that our agreement is with CB Services and that we will not be paying for a job that is not finished.
We now have NO STAIRS to our loft, a plastered half wall in the loft, and we have paid £1000 for materials we have not received.
We have started proceedings to recover our money from the credit card company.
Our advice to you: AVOID CHRIS BIRCH AND CB SERVICES AT ALL COST! More...