So, the restaurant below our flat below our flat is being renovated and has been so for the last 4 months. The entire place was gutted, stripped back to it’s 4 bare walls. This revealed many many problems with the building as a whole. The builders start at 7 30am and have been continuing until 8 pm some nights. Things came to a head this evening (my head, literally – see below) so as I sit hear still feeling the effects, I thought I’d write an open letter to the landlord and the builders. (most of these have been e-mailed in real life but with little effect…
We have had frequent problems with our water being turned off completely without warning and then not turned back on at the end of the day, hot water turned off many more) and internet (has been intermittent). I ve now got to know the vagaries of Dutch water systems very well!
The Structural problems that the restauranters discovered (and to their credit) and have mended have led to the leading to the walls and foundations moving and shifting resulting burst water and gas pipes resulting of leaking of water from our downstairs bathroom onto the floor below. Builders are in the process of fixing the bathroom, but for the past week it has been out of use. Water also leaks from the top floor onto second floor and has stained the walls in the common hallway (since repainted). While I was away, my darling housemates had to live in a gas filled flat for 3/4 days while it was mended. There are also some cracks appearing in some walls, including a major one in the hallway/living room. Several doors no longer close properly, including the back door on to our rather swanky and middle class terrace. This means that the flat is not properly secured during the day.
The whole apartment has been covered in dust for 4 months now. Despite us rigorously cleaning it at the weekend, it is always dirty again the next day. Although dust sheets were used in the restaurant, they are no longer being used and so the problem has increased again. I suffer from dust allergies and living there has been unpleasant for the entire time the work is being done (Ok I did ham this one up a bit in the e-mail). The dust has coated everything, including kitchen utensils in cupboards in the kitchen and clothes in wardrobes and drawers upstairs. Frankly, we have given up trying to keep the apartment clean until the work downstairs is finished (good excuse).
Recently, the builders have erected a set of scaffolding right outside the front door, no really right outside the front door! Therefore, we have to essentially negotiate our way in and out of a cage everyday.
Wet paint has been left on the walls with no warning to us, therefore we all have ended up with clothes and hands covered in paint. Really, I mean all this requires is a sign on the door saying that there is wet paint. This is hardly a difficult/expensive task for the builders to undertake, but noooooo, I had to do that myself.
For a few days we had a rudimentary handle on the door (been removed again as of today) so we ve had to open it with keys – when the paint on the door is wet, you can imagine the problems that causes, both to us and then the painter who needs to repaint our smudges. There is no reason why this could nt be done the whole time! We re talking about 2 bits of metal and a screw here!!
Further when they did change the locks, I ended up locked in (no door handle) and poor Male Housemate No.1 locked out facing a 10 minute walk to a cafe on Denneweg to fetch the new key. There was a number on the note on the door, but do you reckon anyone answered it?
Finally, this morning a Large Chisel was dropped on my head from the scaffolding as I left. Yes, I ll repeat that – a large Chisel was dropped on my head this morning. “Luckily” this hit rubber side down so that I “only” have a massive bang, a small cut on my forehead and a massive headache (still, 18 hours later). Had it hit me chissely metal side down I would be writing this from Hospital and it would probably still be embedded in my head! Surprisingly the responsible builder had a sudden attack of Cantspeakenglishitus at the time and didnt say anything – he is a cock, that is all.
As much as the builders don’t want us there we pay our rent just as the restaurant does and we have just as much right to be there. We don’t leave at 8 30 and come back at 6 for fun, we do it because we, like them, have to go to work. It would be so much easier for both parties if they simply told us what was going to happen before they did it, that way we could try to get in their way as little as possible. As it is we re constantly causing problems for each other! We walk past each other every morning, there was ample opportunity to give us the new key or tell us that they will be painting that day, but nooooooo, not a word….