The Bi-fold adventure

The drama of the bi-fold doors. It was supposed to be a simple story but then things are never simple, not with building projects. We’d had a recommendation from our electrician. In fact most of our trade recommendations have come from our electrician, and he’s a good guy, having used this company in his own place and been very happy with the doors. So we went along, met with the door guy, selected our finish, opened and closed the smooth mechanism on the doors a hundred times, stepped through, from our imaginary extension into our imaginary garden (within the confines of his showroom). I learnt about the importance of the trickle vent. And it all felt good.

Bi-fold doors are beautiful. They allow you to open up the whole of the back door into the garden. They bring the outside inside, light, air, space. Gorgeous.

So, we placed our order and the doors were set to be installed into the gaping hole at the back of our property within the month. Great. And they were. And we thought it was fine. Except it wasn’t. Well, the doors were OK, it was the glass window above the doors that wasn’t fitted correctly. It was at an angle, and too far over to one side, with a big gap between it and the wall.

But the company thought they were done. And they wanted paying.

And so we entered into what I can only look back on now as a Mexican standoff. We had half the balance to pay on the window but they hadn’t done their job properly, it was unfinished. It was a little grey as to whether the window had been fitted incorrectly or the building built wonky. Lots of slopey shoulders and finger pointing. There were a lot of un-returned calls to the supplier. Then calls to the MD, then calls to the manufacturer, who weren’t able to get involved. Then calls to alternative suppliers who wouldn’t touch it. We scratched and banged our heads against walls, steering wheels, anything with a solid surface. We argued, puzzled, and nearly wept with frustration.

Our window man told us he was ordering parts. We waited 3 weeks, we found out he hadn’t placed the order. Blood boiled.

Months passed.

We wrote letters, sent emails, threatening to take the window out and use the money to pay for a replacement. Time was ticking, other costs were ramping up, our whole project was old hold.

I don’t quite remember how it got rectified in the end. I know that our builder was involved. He is a great bringer together of people. The mediator, the negotiator. The peacekeeper. We never really know who’s side he’s on, who he’s representing (well, largely himself), but perhaps that’s part of his craft.

Anyway, finally we had a sit down meeting, at the bi-fold show room. Across a table. Very formal. Pictures were drawn on a whiteboard, dates were promised, breath sucked through teeth. And yes, we decided it was time to part with our cash.

The leap of faith. He could easily have walked away with our money. Thank you very much. We left that showroom feeling uneasy.

But they did come, and they did put things good. Better, at least. There are still a few things that could be better, and they have yet to fit my trickle vent.

And with that a huge weight gently lifted off our shoulders. And the wheels of the beast that is our project slowly started turning again….

Lessons: Make sure you contract properly with suppliers, ensuring drawings and specifications are signed off on both sides. Get your delivery and payment schedule pinned down before you start. Understand all of your bespoke requirements and make sure the supplier also does. And most importantly, be on site when the doors/windows are fitted, so you can check and sign off.

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