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DpEndofShalo    12

We bought our narrowboat last August and knew when we bought it that we would have it repainted this spring.  I did my homework, got tons of advice and estimates and decided to give the job to someone we were familiar with and that we had viewed previous work done by this firm.  We paid £1900 for the deposit and dropped the boat off on April 8th.    We were given a lead time of 5 weeks.  That time came and went and we are now being told it will not be ready until the end of July.    We made an unannounced visit yesterday to the boat and found 75% of the boat still stripped down to the bare metal.   This was after last week giving the painter one of two non-negotiable options. 

Option 1:  We come and get the boat immediately, receive a full refund and we will take the boat elsewhere and draw a line under the whole sorry situation.

Option 2:  Complete the boat no later than July 23rd at which time we will collect the boat in whatever condition it is in and if it is not completed, we will take the boat and pay nothing further and if the boat is in a poor condition to get someone else to finish the job, ie the new painter has to strip anything down to begin again, we will demand a full refund.   We also demanded that we were sent pictures to demonstrate what work had been done on a weekly basis. 

I got no reply to this email but started getting pictures sent.  There is no discernable difference in the pictures sent to us a week ago and the pictures we took ourselves yesterday.  We are truly at the end of our rope with all of this.  We actually like the painter on a personal level.  But have been totally let down every time we are promised something.  When we were supposed to pick up the boat 2 weeks ago, I sent an email stating what time we would be arriving at the yard and asked for a final invoice.  No reply.  As we were going down on a Friday, Thursday I wrote again requesting the invoice and that someone be at the yard incase we had an problems or concerns.  Finally late Thursday evening, I got a call.  Due to the extreme heat, the painting is not complete.  He knew it wouldnt be ready on Monday but actually stated to me that he put off making the call because he knew we would be upset.    I was promised an email or phone call the next day outlining the works to be completed and a time scale.  The email never came.  I wrote a rather terse email explaining that once again we had no idea what was going on but we were in receipt of another of his broken promises.    I stated that we would be arriving at the boat yard to take the boat away on Saturday and someone needed to be there to give us our keys.  I got an email back saying that it was going to take 17 more working days.    Thats when I gave the ultimatium. 

What I would like to ask all of you kind folks out there is if it is actually feasible to paint a boat from bare metal with all the proper number of coats and a professional looking finish in what amounts to to 13 days now. 

The second question is, what would be the easiest way to determine that the boat has the proper number of coats applied without damaging visible paintwork.  Remove a window perhaps and flake a bit off that is covered by the frame when the frame is in position?

We have been given so many excuses as to why its taking this long and we have lost all faith in the painter. One of the things we have been told is that its too hot to paint as it dries too quickly in those circumstances.  Are we being reasonable here.   We have had a handful of really hot days since April 8th and the job has now overun by 2 months as of next week.

And finally, are there any recommendations on somewhere to turn to get the boat sorted out properly with a straightforward painter that will not hide from us or avoid having any difficult conversations because I think we will be in the same situation on the deadline date.

 

Any advice appreciated.

 

Thank you

Alison

 

 

 

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dmr    279

This is a downside of life on the cut and you are not alone, I have heard of people waiting many many months for things like engine swaps. Many canal businesses are one man affairs so if something goes wrong, such as illness, family crisis, or a previous customer demanding re-work, then there is just no spare capacity to get the work back on track. Also, some folk come to work on the canal as a one man business to have a gentler life and get away from the stresses of the modern "workplace". These are the sort of people who are perhaps not brilliant at work planning and working under pressure. Maybe your man is getting really stressed or even depressed about the pressure you are putting on him.

Does your painter have his own indoor workshop or is he sharing it with other tradesmen?

Are you paying top rates for this job or is it at a "bottom end of the market" price?

I suggest the only approach is to keep applying gentle but firm pressure, in fact you might already have overdone it, and wait till the job is done. Pushing the painter to do things quicker than he is able to is not in your interest, you will just get a poor job. Many top painters might well be fully booked for at least a year in advance so if you take the boat away half done your options of taking it elsewhere will be limited.

 

..............Dave

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What an awful tale. 

I've been in a similar situation myself. So similar in fact I think I can guess the yard. I took the boat away in the end as nothing they said could ever be relied upon. The delay was months after being promised five weeks. 

I paid them for the work done so far and finished it myself after having the boat brought back on a lorry to its (then) home mooring in Reading.

If I'm guessing the yard correctly I'd suggest there is no mileage in trying to get them to perform. You'll just get more broken promises. Take the boat away even if it means losing your deposit. You've already lost a season of cruising. The more expensive the lesson, the better you learn it.

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matty40s    1,271

We started our first paint job of the year the first week in April and are a week from finishing the second. 

No chance of getting the requisite coats (especially if coach lines are expected) done to a good standard in the timescale now given. 

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Interesting that you had to pay, what I would consider to be, a substantial deposit before any work was done.  over the years we have had a significant amount of work done, including a new steel slide and doors, a complete (down to bare metal) re-paint, a complete engine re-build, and two cratch covers made, along with lots of smaller jobs, and have never been asked for a deposit.

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Richard10002    173

Take the boat away, write off the deposit, (or sue in moneyclaimonline if you can be bothered), and start again. Even if you give him the time to do the job, and he does it, it will need doing again when rust starts coming through in a year or so.

 

And NAME AND SHAME so he doesnt cock up the lives of anyone else here :(

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alan_fincher    1,850
1 hour ago, DpEndofShalo said:

What I would like to ask all of you kind folks out there is if it is actually feasible to paint a boat from bare metal with all the proper number of coats and a professional looking finish in what amounts to to 13 days now.

No, it isn't, even if you are going for a simple one colour affair.  Even less so, if multiple colours and coach lines.

Whatever the history of this, (and it is clearly most unsatisfactory!), if the current heatwave continues, and assuming it is not in a climate controlled facility, there will not be much of any given day that is suitable for them to apply paint, I would have thought.

Bear in mind that if you walk away from the current "painter", you will have a boat ready to start rusting, and anybody that's any good is unlikely to be available at zero notice to take your work on.
 

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On 09/07/2017 at 13:18, alan_fincher said:

No, it isn't, even if you are going for a simple one colour affair.  Even less so, if multiple colours and coach lines.

Whatever the history of this, (and it is clearly most unsatisfactory!), if the current heatwave continues, and assuming it is not in a climate controlled facility, there will not be much of any given day that is suitable for them to apply paint, I would have thought.

Bear in mind that if you walk away from the current "painter", you will have a boat ready to start rusting, and anybody that's any good is unlikely to be available at zero notice to take your work on.
 

 

Possibly a Good Thing according to other threads on here on the subject of mill scale. Mill scale really needs removing, is possibly the reason the boat needs a re-paint in the first place and allowing the boat to rust for a season before shot blasting it is a cheap way of removing ot.

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10 minutes ago, Richard10002 said:

Take the boat away, write off the deposit, (or sue in moneyclaimonline if you can be bothered), and start again. Even if you give him the time to do the job, and he does it, it will need doing again when rust starts coming through in a year or so.

 

And NAME AND SHAME so he doesnt cock up the lives of anyone else here :(

No please don't. If someone PM's you for info, that is probably OK. but public denouncement is not a good idea.

Edited by David Schweizer

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On 09/07/2017 at 13:14, David Schweizer said:

Interesting that you had to pay, what I would consider to be, a substantial deposit before any work was done.  over the years we have had a significant amount of work done, including a new steel slide and doors, a complete (down to bare metal) re-paint, a complete engine re-build, and two cratch covers made, along with lots of smaller jobs, and have never been asked for a deposit.

 

Ah yes I was going to address this point too. A deposit is reasonable to request to cover the cost of the paint, but £1,900 seems excessive. (Or is it?) 

The other reason for not paying a large deposit I know from personal experience as a tradesman. Its hard for the customer to grasp but for me the effect is very real. The tradesman gets the hefty deposit in his bank, and he doesn't start the job for a few weeks so doesn't need to buy the materials yet. The deposit easily gets eaten up by personal living expenses, so now the tradesman has to find the money all over again to buy the paint. If he is not especially 'financially secure' (true of many tradesmen) then the job turns into a millstone as he no longer has the cash to buy the paint. This could explain why the job has stalled at the 'bare shell' stage. 

In addition the financial incentive to complete the job is much reduced. I once had a customer pay me 100% of the cost of a central heating installation three months in advance and completing that job was the most difficult work I've ever done as there was no pay cheque to look forward to att the end.

Avoiding this problem takes a fair amount of personal effort in my experience, and I see tradesmen in the building business falling into this trap repeatedly. I see no reason for the same effect not to occur in boat painting.

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Ray T Contributor    402
30 minutes ago, David Schweizer said:

No please don't. If someone PM's you for info, that is probably OK. but public denouncement is not a good idea.

David is right here. Name and shame will only make the painter less likely to want to help. I know of a boater (long since left the cut) who named and shamed a yard, in fact wrote a whole blog about it, all the yard did was do a rush job to get rid of his boat and him. This was not an Australian gent BTW.

When we bought our boat (second hand) it needed some remedial work the survey had thrown up and it took the yard 6 weeks to rectify a simple fault. It is not only the boats that move at 3mph............... 

I've always found it is better to work with canal firms, even though they may not meet expectations, than "fight" them.

Just make a mental note not to use that yard / painter again.

Edited by Ray T

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cuthound Contributor    371

I spent a career chasing and sometimes suing firms for poor quality or late work for "blue chip" companies.

However it is much easier to do in the corporate world than it is in real life, as you are often dealing with very small companies or one man bands in real life.

Far better to try and negotiate an outcome you are both satisfied with, possibly revised dates and a small discount, but make regular visits to ensure the painter keeps the quality standards you expect.

The only other alterative is to walk away, and find alterative alternative painter, which could take a year or two. Meanwhile your boat is rusting away, which could well add to the preparation costs for for the next painter.

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DpEndofShalo    12

I am not going to name and shame however anyone reading this thread is welcome to message me and ask if a particular painter is who I am referring to.  I wouldnt want to see anyone go through what we are going through but I also think that putting it out there for the world to read is asking for more trouble until I get this sorted. 

The deposit was for paint and materials and the time it would be in the paint dock.  He rents the paint dock out so worked that into the price.  He was by no means the cheapest but he was very far off the highest estimate of £12,500 by a very reputable painter who is booked 2 years in advance.  We consider price when getting things done but are always willing to pay a little more for a good job. 

The major problem with this painter is lack of communication and when he is cornered, he makes promises he can not keep and then neglects to tell us he is behind schedule until the last minute when we have asked for time off work and made plans to cruise home.  He has even admitted that he avoids us when the news is bad.  I have politely explained to him 2 months ago that we are reasonable people who will work with him as long as we are kept abreast of the situation and can see some sort of progress.  Anyone can run into problems and have a change of circumstances that get in the way of doing the work as promised but avoiding your customer and breaking promises is not the way to go about handling it. 

After reading the different responses here, my instinct is in agreement with the many that say walk away now.  I am not worried about the money already paid, we have a very well documented case complete with video and photo evidence and correspondance to prove our case should we have to recover the money through the court system. 

The big question now is ...... when we take it away in the condition that it is in, will we be doing significant harm to it by moving it over a period of 5 days to a safe location for storing it until the metal is covered and protected?   Would covering it with a tarp just for the journey provide sufficient protection to get it back? 

We have 2 choices and thats to leave it there indefinately and continue to go through this nightmare or take it away and start over.  I just want to know if walking away is going to damage what is a really nice boat.

 

Thanks

 

Alison

 

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Frankly this chap sounds desperately over-committed to me, and given his habit of saying 'yes' to everyone and everything, I suspect taking the boat away will be a good decision. He may possibly be in deep financial trouble so suing him may not yield the result you expect. I might be wrong about this but don't imagine your Fast Track case being successful will result in the money being returned to your account.

Don't worry about the appalling appearance of your bare metal boat as it rusts. It should have been primed immediately it was stripped so shot blasting is the only way forward now I suspect, whcih will remove all the rust however much there is. I'm not a boat painter though and others here can give more accurate advice.

 

No need to cover it with a tarp whilst actually cruising back, but would be a good idea to keep the rain off once on your home mooring.

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Jess--    62

if it's bare steel and a reasonable thickness then you aren't going to do it any harm by just leaving it exposed to the elements for a year or so (you may actually do more harm by tarping it as that could trap water), all that should happen is that the steel gets a layer of surface rust (it will look like **** but be harmless)

when the time comes for it to be repainted I suspect that it is just as quick to remove a layer of surface rust as it is to remove layers of paint (probably quicker)

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On 09/07/2017 at 14:53, Jess-- said:

if it's bare steel and a reasonable thickness then you aren't going to do it any harm by just leaving it exposed to the elements for a year or so (you may actually do more harm by tarping it as that could trap water), all that should happen is that the steel gets a layer of surface rust (it will look like **** but be harmless)

when the time comes for it to be repainted I suspect that it is just as quick to remove a layer of surface rust as it is to remove layers of paint (probably quicker)

 

I don't think it matters either way. It's going to rust regardless and as you say, removing the rust is actually quite quick and easy.

The main reason to put a tarp on is so passers by don't assume the boat is unloved and abandoned, and start nicking bits off it or breaking in.

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Tony Brooks    619

If this were mine and I was going to remove it I think I would give it a rub down with abrasive paper. a coat of anti-rust primer and then a topcoat to seal the surface - dust, flies and all. Hopefully that would avoid any deep rust pitting if there are longer delays.

A couple of weeks ago while painting our boat I was up at 5.30 leathering down to get  rid of any dew and by 6.15 applying the paint before the sun got above the hedge. It seems OK and the brush marks smoothed them selves out. You may have to do the same.

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Murflynn    446

the moral of the story is to write (and get signed) a short contract stating the key parameters and especially that 'time is of the essence'.

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On 09/07/2017 at 17:49, Murflynn said:

the moral of the story is to write (and get signed) a short contract stating the key parameters and especially that 'time is of the essence'.

 

I'm not sure that would have helped in this case, even if the contract also defined substantial compensation to be paid if the time scale was breached. Firstly the painter would probably have told the OP to get lost. But had he accepted such a contract, the higher the compensation grows the lower the profit incentive to complete the job becomes so pretty rapidly a point arrives when the job is better ignored, the customer blanked in the hope they will go away and more profitable work is concentrated upon.

Such contracts are fine 'business-to-business' but I just can't see them working in the world of canal boat maintenance.

In my view close management of the project is the best way in order to nip a developing problem in the bud. Weekly visits or even more frequently would have revealed the extend of the delays developing and something agreed before matters reached this unfortunate state of affairs. 

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Starcoaster    1,308

What sort of area are you looking to potentially get another yard to  this out for you? I may have a suggestion/someone else might depending the range you can move within.

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jddevel    20

Having spoken to an extremely reputable narrow boat painter (waiting list of approx.2 years- John Barnard ) plus a couple of others and spoken at length to both International Paints and Epifhanes Technical departments during this last week concerning my own sailaway. I have received the following information. Firstly as my vessel has received a 2 pack  high build anti corrosive epoxy primer it should remain acceptable for sometime. It was in fact spray coated approximately last September has stood out in all winds and weathers since and apart from minor locations (hinges, where I`ve been walking and where crane straps rubbed) remains rust free. I was advised that due to the time the primer has been on it, it will/should now be inert and therefore accept another manufacturers primer-test small area. ( Currently it`s Selemix which can only really be sprayed). I was advised by both the technical departments that provided weather conditions (dew point and not too hot- they advise ideal temperature ranges in their literature) that a primer can be re-coated after approximately 5 hours and up to I think it was 20 hours but please check with out the need to rub down. Basically three coats of primer (I`m going to use 2 pack epoxy rolled and brushed on as advised by said technical depts.) could theoretically be applied in 2 days. Left for a day or two gently abraded with 320 grit sanding discs etc. before applying  two coats of undercoat (one a day) This is then followed by two coats of top coat (one a day). Many of the professional painters obviously work with existing paint work and therefore have to build in time for blasting and removal of ancillaries-windows etc. and rust treatment. However if its their profession then familiarity with good working practice should mean that I find it difficult to understand why if yours is the only vessel being attended to, it takes as long as it seems to. I have decided to "have a go" myself after erecting a temporary shelter and as I own a small Miller sand/soda blaster etc ( used in my classic car hobby) I can remove any rusted areas treat with Vactan as an extra precaution. My wife will sign write -she has already painted some attractive door panel features -helpful having painting as one of her hobbies. If the worst comes to the worst then we`ll contact John Barnard in 6 months time and book him just don`t laugh at our attempts when we`re on the cut hopefully in a couple of months time!!!!

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Richard10002    173
8 hours ago, Ray T said:

David is right here. Name and shame will only make the painter less likely to want to help. 

I don't think help from this particular painter is either available or desired, so that's not a reason not to name and shame.

The only reason not to name and shame, ( and help others avoid the same time and money losing debacle), is the risk of being sued for defamation. This guy hasn't got the time and/or money to paint their boat, so the chances of him taking action are slim to nil.

Anyway, the OPs seem to have made some decisions... which is good.

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dmr    279

So, if you take the boat away in bare metal, with or without a tarp, what happens next? Is it going to sit outdoors, unused,  for a year whilst you find another painter? Are you going to use it in bare metal? If its bare metal then surely all the windows/portholes and other fixtures are currently removed? I still think trying to get the current painter to finish the job is the best option. Problem here is that you are most likely no longer on good terms and he might do a quick and poor job and still charge you full price.

How old is the boat? Is it a smart and expensive boat? We winter on the K&A and see all sorts of very quick towpath paint jobs. Rather than having the boat in bare metal and out of use for months how about finding an itinerant canal painter (or even yourself) to do a very quick basic paint job and then go for a proper repaint next time?

..............Dave

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Given the boat name I suspect it was sold by  forum member.

I agree with Dave above though, just get a coat of primer applied with a roller and a top coat of Dulux Weathershield the same way, and you'll have bought yourselves a couple of years of time to organise a good repaint.

Matty might be a really good option. Send ima PM, I suggest.

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