What we have is a failure to communicate – Part 2 …

This is my follow-up email to the one I sent to management yesterday. Temporary rehoming has been tentatively suggested in response to that (though it might not be an available option), but it has no appeal anyway, as you’ll see (I need to sleep in my own profiling bed). But that’s just me – what of the other 30-odd residents?

UPDATE: yep, an update even before it’s published! The upshot of what you’re about to read is that they re going to replace my taps – which is all I really need  – and otherwise leave me alone. I’ll still get noise from the adjacent flats, but I have earplugs so it’s not a problem! Well, OK, it is a problem, as it’ll go on for bloody weeks, but it’s far less of a problem than I would otherwise have had, and I can live with it. The question still remains, though – what of the others? They’re not all as bloody-minded as me 😉 :-

What follows is, I assure you, not me being awkward, it’s me trying to protect myself, and if possible others, from what I consider to be a massively ill-conceived scheme – major refurbishments like this simply should not take place while flats are occupied. There are just too many risk factors. The old system of refurbishing as flats become empty makes far more sense, with the exception of any work that must be carried out for safety reasons.

Rehoming is a thought but, unfortunately, I need my clockwork bed – it’s the only place I can sleep without pain. Or at all. There are too many health-related reasons why rehoming, even temporarily, isn’t feasible, unfortunately, though I appreciate the gesture, not least the risk of further infection in my leg from an environment over which I have no control (my carpet is sprayed with a sterilising solution, overnight, several times a week, and vacuumed daily – it’s why I bought the Dyson).

My leg is greatly improved, and I have hope that it will heal completely in time, but I still have open wounds which aren’t going to go away any time soon. And as Dr. Xxxxxxx so charmlessly put it, an infection can so easily become septicaemia, and kill me, and this could also happen if my living room becomes contaminated by the work in the kitchen (and I can’t see how it cannot). That’s a risk that it falls to the contractor to eliminate, not just for me, but for everybody, especially John, who also has lymphoedema.

It does seem to me that management have just thought great, we’ve got the money, let’s do this thing, without giving a moment’s thought to the logistics of the operation, or the enormous impact on those of us who actually have to live here, in what will, effectively, become a building site. It was bad enough when the heating system was replaced. I doubt those of us who where here then are keen for a repeat. Possibly three repeats.

It seems clear that no consideration has been given to the welfare of the residents at all, especially if this is to be followed (maybe), by new windows and new bathrooms – carrying out such major refurbishments in flats which are occupied is patently absurd and, given the noise, stress, and disruption it will cause, as well as other factors mentioned, potentially dangerous for some of us, at least.

Everyone I’ve sought opinions from on this issue – and they are many – thinks this scheme is lunacy. The more I think about it the more I tend to agree. It will be a logistical nightmare from the residents’ perspective.

Personally, I’d welcome more cupboards, and my taps are failing – have been for years with temporary repair after temporary repair, but stripping the kitchen to the bare walls and starting again really is overkill.

But assuming we’re all stuck with this massively ill-considered scheme (which has the potential to breach H&S regulations by putting residents who remain in situ in harm’s way, a question I hope to put to the HSE later today – it also exposes Riverside et al to the risk of legal action should anyone suffer harm), the contractors are, at the very least, going to have to clean up and make safe every day before leaving the site so that we can return to our homes after the work day is ended** – no matter whose flat they’re in, not just mine, residents’ safety must be the overriding concern.

**Though the question of where we go during the day still needs to be addressed.

Bottom line, they have to fit in with our needs, not we with theirs; this is our home, after all and most might have nowhere else to go. Let’s face it, during the day the flats are going to be uninhabitable – where does everybody go, not just me?

But let’s focus this more tightly – I can’t second-guess what other people want, let’s make this about what I need. My health is, at best, extremely fragile, I have to protect myself from anything that is going to make me worse.

As of right now I have no idea where I can go during the day (probably the lounge though it’s far less than ideal, as I’ve explained), but as well as quick access to a toilet I also need fresh water as I have meds to take at 10 points throughout the day, and at least basic kitchen facilities – I have to eat in the evening, at least (mostly I don’t eat during the day). In the evening I need to be back in my own flat and, eventually, my own bed – and my flat needs to be clean, free from contamination, and perfectly safe.

In the daytime I also need to remain connected to my online support – isolation from everybody in my life simply isn’t acceptable.

Talking to people who have actually had new kitchens installed, it seems that the electricity will need to be turned off at some point (I can’t think why in my case, but still…). It’s vital that I’m there before this happens as my new fridge freezer has to be shut down – simply flipping a circuit breaker can damage it irreparably and MUST NOT happen. It mustn’t be off too long either.

There is something else to consider, too. It takes me a long time to get ready of a morning, so there will be no access before around 10.00. Sorry, not trying to be awkward – like much else in my life, this is outside my control.

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9 thoughts on “What we have is a failure to communicate – Part 2 …

  1. Too many of those who make the decision about this type of insane upheaval for residents only have this thought in their minds when they sign off such schemes…

    “we have to use up the money for the financial year because if we don’t, our surplus will result in our funding for next year being reduced and I won’t get my bonus for managing the funds”

    They are like dogs with a bone on that, and you have to fight every step of it to stop it. I saw this happen with an elderly aunt, just diagnosed with the cancer that was to kill her. She had COPD along with many other health problems and was on oxygen. They wanted to put in a new bathroom (which had been done two years previously and had a walk in shower etc) She was told she could “just go to the day centre” the very same “day centre” that had been closed down 4 months previously. The housing association insisted that five days of total disruption was appropriate for an elderly lady who only had a few months left.

    It took me two months to get them to stop the plans. I had to resort to threatening legal action as my Aunt’s health was so poor that the planned works would have killed her within a day.
    HSE didn’t want to know.

    Good luck with this Ron, two new taps sounds the best deal by far.

    • Apparently others are unhappy too, but no-one else is making an issue of it as I did. It’s always been that way here – they’ll bitch and whine, but won’t actually DO anything.

      Wouldn’t surprise me if there was a death or two here before it’s all over. I’ve made it as clear as I possibly can that the contractors have a legal obligation to make the flats clean and safe for the tenants – oops – we’re residents now! – to return to in the evening and overnight. However, having been effectively taken out of the equation, I can’t see, from the evidence of my own flat, if they’re doing that. And, of course, it’s no longer my problem. Which is why they gave in so easily – isolate the trouble-maker by taking away the axe I’m grinding! I was a union rep for 10 years – I’m not that easily fooled.

      They can ring-fence the funds for my flat so that it can be done if I move out or die. Nobody actually loses out.

    • One thing I found out today, the new kitchens will be totally different. Now we have cupboards topped with a drawer – pretty standard. The new ones will have a stack of drawers, alternating with a cupboard – so cupboard space will be lost in favour of drawer space. At the moment, drawers are at hip height, but with the new ones, people who are at an age when bending down is getting ever harder will be saddled with drawers at floor level and knee level – not helpful.

  2. I had this threatened at my old place.
    They wanted to photograph my flat before work started. I said NO.
    They wanted keys to my flat for the 8-12 months duration of the work. NO.
    They wanted to come in and out at will, doing bits and pieces as it suited them instead of minimising the time and disruption to me by doing whole days. NO.
    They wanted access to every room at once while they were working, and to start as early as 8am and go on as late as 6pm. NO.
    They wanted to come in whenever, with no notice or agreement. NO.
    They wanted to leave all the windows and doors open, a radio playing at top volume, and workmen smoking right outside the front door. NO.
    They wanted to use my electricity for their tools, and radio and phone charging and my kettle, mugs, and supplies for brewing up, and my bathroom, loo roll, soap and towels for their workmen. NO.
    They wanted to turn the electricity, water and gas off whenever they felt like it, for as long as they wanted, without asking or notifying me. NO.

    They wanted to rip out the heating system, chiselling out all the walls in the process, put in a controller and thermostat I couldn’t use because my hands are bad, and their version of ‘making good’ at the end involved plastering the holes and telling me I’d have to redecorate out of my own money. I’d moved in not twelve months before and it was so filthy, mouldy and damp I’d taken the entire flat back to bare plaster, bleached the hell out of the place, and decorated it all, nearly killing myself in the process.

    They refused to even consider negotiating. I said that in that case I would simply not allow them into my flat, and they threatened to evict me. I went to the Ombudsman, and that and other issues meant they had to allocate me a decent accessible flat in a decent area, strip it out, redecorate and repair it, and pay for someone to pack and move all my belongings, and compensation.

    Took me 18 months, but I won XD.

    You’re absolutely right to say this isn’t possible while the flats are occupied – wouldn’t be for normal folks, let alone anyone who’s got additional needs of any kind. Unfortunately, housing associations seem to be doing this all over, and using each other’s examples to claim it’s ‘normal’. I think they’ve got a cheek charging rent while doing this – they should be paying to put people up elsewhere, in hotels with catering if necessary!

    • 2009 we had almost a whole year replacing the central heating. This year we’ve already had the lift out for 6 weeks while it was completely replaced (luckily I’m on the ground floor), and it’s since broken down several times!

      If all goes as planned we’ll be having the bathrooms refurbished in the summer – now that I’ll put up with – I need a shower. Or a wet room. I’ll take what I can get. Then we’ll be heading into winter again, so doubtless that’s when they’ll replace the windows – which, like the kitchens, isn’t needed, they’re fine.

      Doubtless, when that’s all finished, they’ll put up the rents!

  3. when i commented after part 1, I had forgotten about them ripping plaster off the walls and re-plastering plus a few of the things you mention too jaime. it was as i said ,horrendous.

    As far as i know, the reasons behind all this is that back a few years, the government said,that if each LA formed a housing association and offloaded their housing stock onto the HA the govt would provide x amount of cash to those LAs doing so, to enable them to update all their houses. only those LAs who formed an HA would be eligible. we were sent letters about this and a vote was taken as to whether we wanted them to form this HA. in this area it was a yes,sounds like yours too, they were supposed to have finished the upgrades by 2012 but underestimates of how many properties were involved meant that most needed an extention of time. so i expect that’s why your getting this done now.

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