Rogue trader contractors repair listed building stone work with sand and cement

May 19, 2010

After taking a week’s holiday teaching – stone walling – which always seemed to end too soon, I
returned to work and did my usual look around at the state of the buildings on
the estate. I continued my work to report further on issues that never seemed to
get done, but as with most firms, I believe that paperwork is essential and is a
job creation to keep mindless persons employed to file the reports in a place
where no one will ever see them.

One issue on my list had been the state of the stone work to some buildings
at Stable Yard. Technically, these buildings were classed as grade 2 listed, but
as they were in the curtilage of Tyntesfield House, they were deemed by the
Trust to Be grade 1 and at all times treated so.



The first thing that hit me was the Bath Stone cap stones had been repointed
in sand and cement, as was all the stone work around them. The contractors had
made sure the job was permanent by using a really strong mix that wouldn’t even
scratch with a key. This is one of the most taboo materials to use on stone work
and even so on a grade one classed building owned by the National


At the time, I was under notice of
redundancy as the Trust thought it cheaper to bring in outside contractors.
Obviously the National Trust had an agreement with some sort of zoological
contractor and was paying them in bananas for their services.

After I got over the fact that I
was over looked to do this simple task in favour of outside ‘specialists’, I
took my volunteer helper at the time, a semi retired construction manager and
life long member of the National Trust to see the job for himself. He couldn’t
believe it either. It was then I decided to take the mickey big time with an
Email. Now until now, I had kept my criticisms of shoddy contractors to a
minimum, but this deserved a full attack and as I was going, who


I sent an Email to the surveyor
asking if the programme Rogue Traders had been shot in my absence at Stable
Yard, as the work to the stone work is worthy of the best of them. I then
pointed out what had been done, how it should have been done and the
consequences of what they have allowed to be done. I also pointed out I knew of
a good contractor (me) that was prepared to give them lessons on lime mortar as
I have had a lot off experience putting bodged jobs right and please don’t
hesitate to contact me.

This I sent to all the appropriate management
including all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and waited for the

Looking at the returning Email in
hand today – from I shall call him Humpty Dumpty – I still chuckle at the reply.
Evidently the contractors were given precise instructions on the work and it’s
not practicable to stand over everyone and watch. Unfortunately the stone would
be damaged beyond repair if any attempt were made to rectify the problem
therefore it will be left as it is. The contractors have been removed from the
tender list and a little quote, I assume for my attention read, Oh if we were
all so perfect.

Now I may not be perfect, but I
don’t sit around searching my fellow man for fleas and I definitely don’t take
payment in nuts and bananas.

They never did take up my offer to
train the contractors – a pity really as Tyntesfield is a place of learning
excellence – but as I was being made redundant it would have been difficult for
the management to agree.