Disappointing response from builder

Neil

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I'm posting this here in the hope of a wider readership.

I have developed a problem in my two year-old boat, in that the laminated mahogany rubbing strake has delaminated over the winter. I had posted a thread in the classic boat section looking for wood glueing tips:

http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthread.php?t=267886

The general consensus was for the builder to remove the strakes and start from scratch, basically. It would be inconvenient and expensive to get the boat from Ireland to the UK to be fixed by the builder, but I would do it to have a proper job done.

The builders initial response was to suggest that I squeeze Sikaflex down the cracks and clamp it up, an idea that I felt was less than optimum. He states that their current practice is to use sikaflex when laminating up. My counter suggestion of a West System epoxy, such as G-Flex wasn't taken on board.

While I was prepared to pay transport (450 euro), I'd hoped that the builder would make good. However his position is that there was no defect in workmanship, the boat is out of its guarantee period, and needs must I not only pay the £600 repair bill, but his £200 fuel bill to collect the boat from Holyhead. Not only that but he has stated that he would look at it to determine if it could be repaired with Sikaflex and clamps

While I'm not averse to making a legal challenge, I'm not sure of what is reasonable in the circumstances, notwithstanding the difficulty of making this challenge in a foreign jurisdiction.

I'll think on it, but in the meantime, what would be the views of you readers of using West G-flex, with maybe a heat gun to get it flowing down the cracks? There's no point in doing all this if it's going to bodged with Sikaflex
 

Quandary

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I can understand your frustration, but Sikaflex 291 is an adhesive and a very water resistant one, I spent hours trying to separate the last used cartridge from the gun. It also has the advantage of some tolerance to movement. My calorifier has been assembled and sealed with 291 for over a year now, years before I used it on the leaking joints of my cast iron gutter and it is the only thing I have found that resists the thermal movement permanently. The major problem with it, is not getting it to adhere, but removing and cleaning up, you need to mask the area very carefully. I fitted proprietary wet room panels in a bathroom project recently, the adhesive supplied was Sikaflex, again selected by the panel suppliers for moisture resistance and tolerance of limited movement but a different formula and number, worth looking at the Sikaflex website before rejecting it.
I know the forum has unlimited confidence in epoxy resins and coatings but I would not write off the Sikaflex alternative, your builder might have decided that it is the most appropriate material for the job from experience.
 

nmeyrick

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Warranty period be damned! The magical words you need to use to the builder are "Sale of Goods Act" This is the legislation in the UK which covers all sales transactions, and gives you your "statutory rights." Any warranty that the manufacturer gives is additional to your statutory rights, not instead of them.

This Act says that goods must be:

- As described
- Of satisfactory quality
- Fit for purpose

I doubt that many people would try and argue that a boat which can't cope with getting wet is fit for purpose! In particular "satisfactory quality" also implies that it must have reasonable durability, depending on what you would expect for the particular goods. Again I doubt anyone would agree that two years is a reasonable lifespan for a GRP boat.

You are well within your rights to expect the builder to repair it without cost to you, or to have it professionally repaired and them to foot the (reasonable) cost. And given the cost and inconvenience of transporting the boat back to the manufacturer, together with his suggestion that he would take the quickest, cheapest approach, I would be leaning towards a reputable local professional in your shoes.

If you need to get him to cough up a politely worded letter on solicior's notepaper should encourage him, or you can go to the small claims court for very little cost.

Some further reading here:
http://whatconsumer.co.uk/how-long-should-it-last/
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Consumerrights/DG_182935


Edited to add: cross posted with the previous two. I don't know enough about the techniques to say whether or not Sika is the best solution, but if it is you still should expect the builder to rectify it at his expense
 
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Neil

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I can understand your frustration, but Sikaflex 291 is an adhesive and a very water resistant one, I spent hours trying to separate the last used cartridge from the gun. It also has the advantage of some tolerance to movement. My calorifier has been assembled and sealed with 291 for over a year now, years before I used it on the leaking joints of my cast iron gutter and it is the only thing I have found that resists the thermal movement permanently. The major problem with it, is not getting it to adhere, but removing and cleaning up, you need to mask the area very carefully. I fitted proprietary wet room panels in a bathroom project recently, the adhesive supplied was Sikaflex, again selected by the panel suppliers for moisture resistance and tolerance of limited movement but a different formula and number, worth looking at the Sikaflex website before rejecting it.
I know the forum has unlimited confidence in epoxy resins and coatings but I would not write off the Sikaflex alternative, your builder might have decided that it is the most appropriate material for the job from experience.

I understand the advantages of sikaflex as an adhesive (and the builder explained in depth his rationale) - the problem would be to introduce it deep into the 1mm (or less) gaps. Not to mention that the mahogany rubbing strip is also decorative......
 
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Quandary

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I would advise against the legal route in this case if possible. £600 is only beer money to your average solicitor and you will have two jurisdictions involved. The small claims court is good for straightforward claims but the limits vary in different parts of the UK, and you may not have recourse to it from outside. However do not let your opponent know, let him think you are an awkward b****** who will take it all the way.
Ask him to nominate a local boatyard to carry out the repair to his specification as the cheapest solution for both of you and to warrant the repair. If it resolves the matter you are sorted, if it does not, you have an admission of continuing responsibility that should allow you to have the strake replaced to your spec. and recover the cost. You will not get a warranty voluntarily but before proceeding with the repair send him a letter laying out your understanding that he is taking responsibility for the completion of a satisfactory and permanent solution. Explain to him how reluctant you are to name and shame while there is hope of a resolution.
 

Tranona

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If you are going to pursue under the Sale of Goods Act then you need to show that the fault exists. Suggest you get an independent report from an "expert" - probably a surveyor with an estimate for making good. This will put your claim on a more formal footing than just talking to him. There may also be value in contacting any trade association where he is a member for mediation. Almost certainly he is liable and if he is unwilling to make good then you are in a strong position to make a claim through the small claims route.

Actually making the claim is very straightforward, but one of the things you have to show is that you have tried all the alternatives to resolve the issue. Keep a good record of all your exchanges to use as support for your claim to the court. When you feel you have reached the end in your negotiations, file your claim. The phone will ring the next day!

I recently did this with Easyjet in a claim where part was absolutely their responsibility, but they were being tardy and partly conentious. Put all my letters and email exchanges in with the claim and extracts from their terms and conditions and had a phone call which resulted in a settlement two days later - although their actual payment was slow, I got my money.

Not a pleasant process, particularly when linked to a product that should be all pleasure, but deal with it calmly and methodically and you should get a result (and just hope he does not go bust in the meantime!)
 

gjgm

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I might be concerned that the owner has some care of duty to maintain wooden parts of the boat, not simply blame the builder for damage over winter two years later. Not being critical of the OP, but total delamination of the entire strakes would indicate to me something is very amiss, but a few isolated and minor seperations might be considered not totally unexpected if, say, no maintenance was undertaken.
I think I would find a local builder, ask for a quote, and see if its possible to reach common ground with the original builder.
Its a long slog to get a sense of justice when basically what you really want is the boat back in order.
 

Poignard

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I might be concerned that the owner has some care of duty to maintain wooden parts of the boat, not simply blame the builder for damage over winter two years later. Not being critical of the OP, but total delamination of the entire strakes would indicate to me something is very amiss, but a few isolated and minor seperations might be considered not totally unexpected if, say, no maintenance was undertaken.
I think I would find a local builder, ask for a quote, and see if its possible to reach common ground with the original builder.
Its a long slog to get a sense of justice when basically what you really want is the boat back in order.

Oh come on - two years!

Even if the mahogany was blackened through total neglect, the adhesive should never have failed. Either the builder used an unsuitable adhesive or failed to apply a correct one properly.

I have glued joints on my boat that have not let go after 44 years.
 

Quandary

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I have some experience of civil courts and the small claims court in different parts of the U.K. but not in Eire.
(I still have a judgement in my possession for a very substantial sum, including £40k of legal costs, granted by the High Court in N. Ireland which could not be enforced because the defendant fled to England. To pursue him I would have to find him, wait until his wife returned his assets and then seek another enforcement order from an English Court, by which time he will have moved on again.)
For the Small Claims route I think you will need to pursue your builder in the jurisdiction in which the transaction took place, if that was in England the limit for small claims is considerably higher than it is in Scotland or N.I. so that may help, but if you have to bring witnesses from Ireland you will be responsible for their expenses. If you can establish that the transaction took place in Dublin he will have to come to you to defend it but if he does not you may get a judgement against him but with little chance of enforcement. It is one thing to get a judgement for compensation but very often much more difficult to get enforcement, solicitors normally do not advise you that the judgement is not enforceable until you have got it, which means they get paid (by you) but you are out even more. I am very cynical about the operation of the civil courts, while having great respect for the Small Claims Court system, but I suspect it may not help you because if the defendant chooses to contest jurisdiction, he may be able to get a decision that it should go upstairs to the civil court. So bite your lip and try to stay out of court if you can.
The E.U. was supposed to sort all these issues out, but when there are disparities even within different parts of the U.K. it is no surprise they have not.
 

Tranona

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Thats a rather gloomy view. Ignoring the jurisdiction bit (but it sounds like it is in the UK) it is unlikely that the action would be contested to the extent of a hearing. The important thing is to go through the process of trying to resolve the problem and making clear that the purchaser is right. Hence the suggestion of getting third party opinion and formalising the claim. If it does get to court and there is a judgement the claimant then has something to work with, although actually enforcing the judgement may, as you say be problematic.

Disputes are never easy to resolve - if they were easy they would not be disputes, but the mechanisms are there to be used if appropriate.
 

Neil

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Thanks for all the input. I'm actually reluctant to pursue the legal route - it seems there might be considerable effort and perseverance, if not outright difficulty, involved in a cross jurisdictional small claims court procedure.

I had hoped he would do the decent thing, but he was looking for 2 days workshop costs and expenses involved in picking the boat up from the ferry terminal. That, together with the price of a return unaccompanied freight fare of €450, pushes it over the 1k mark. If his recourse is to try and squeeze sikaflex down the cracks anyway, then perhaps I'd be better off looking for another solution. I've been in correspondence with the technical department of West System and have a way forward, so will probably have a go myself.

It's disappointing. I've babyed that boat; kept at home under a tarpaulin, only taken out a couple of dozen times, cleaned to like a new pin each time and at the end of last season, a light rub down of the strake to key a fresh coat of Bradite......I'd have expected better, particularly in view of the generally high standard of workmanship on the boat, in general.
 
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