Living in Crete

Living In Crete, Beware Of Fake Building Contractors

 

Today I just want to share something that has caused my husband and I lots of anger, frustrations and lots of money, I want to warn you about fake building contractors and also those who just want to rip you off just because they can. To be honest I find this very aggravating because when you search for someone to do a job and both of you agree on a price and the timeline of completion, I expect things to go as planned.

Now I understand that there are some unavoidable circumstances, and I am not complaining about that at all, for example, and I will get into more details in a minute, we had ordered some windows and doors, and they were supposed to be shipped from the mainland Greece,(Thessaloniki) First our order couldn’t be prepared because they said they had to fill the requirement for that color before they can make the doors and the windows.

They said that they cannot fire up the machines just for two doors, and five windows which were our order so we had to wait for more people to place orders of the same color as ours, we were praying and crossing fingers and toes. And just as things started moving along and our order was ready to be shipped to Crete the ferry workers decide to go on strike.

Let Me Start From The Beginning So You Can Get The Full Picture

The Year was 2016, my husband and I could finally change the interior design of our house, we were so excited and since my husband knows a thing or two about architecture, he had already designed and printed the design we wanted, so the hunt for a contractor to do the job began.

We had many suggestions but we decided to seek the counsel of a real estate agency in the village of Kalives, the real estate agency is very reputable and we thought they will be the best place to find a good contractor, someone who will do a good job. We knew that this was our only chance to get our house how we wanted it and we had taken a long time to save the money to do it so we could not afford to make a mistake, that is why we wanted the absolute best.

So, when we presented our situation to the real estate agent, we made it very clear that we want someone who will do a good job the first time, we want them to tell us the final price and we want everything done correctly. We said all this because we had heard from people who complained of shady jobs, things were not done properly.

And they had to spend more money on fixing things. We definitely didn’t want to end up in a situation like that. And that is why we decided to consult professionals People who based on what they told us and also based on their website, they have sold, built, and rented out many properties over the years, and they are trusted by many people and their clients who they consider as ”friends” and they are from all over Europe.

We Were Promised That We Will Get The Best Contractor Someone With Experience Of Over 20 Years

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When we presented our concerns to the real estate agency, regarding contractors who do shady jobs, we were assured that we were in good hands and that the real estate Agency will make sure that we get the very best, they told us that the guy they were sending to us is someone with experience of over 20 years and has worked in Germany as a builder for many years, before deciding to come back to Crete and set up his own building contracting company.

They told us that they have worked with him on many projects and there have not been any complaints. Upon hearing that the guy has worked in Germany, my husband was convinced that the guy will do a good job, because my husband is familiar with how things are done in Germany and he knows if someone has worked there for many years, then, of course, he is doing a good job.

We Were So Excited To Sign The Contract

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We were so sure that we have found the right person to do the job so we had a meeting with the real estate agent and the contractor, the contractor assured my husband that there is nothing to worry about, he even spoke to my husband in German, and they shared a joke or two.

So we signed the contract and paid the deposit, which was half of the agreed amount, and then we were to pay the rest every Monday until we had only 500 euros left to pay and we were to pay that at the completion of the job. Then we went home to make arrangements to move out of our place so the job can begin, we packed everything and our neighbor had offered us a place where we could store our things, we worked so hard and so quickly to move everything because we were told that the job will commence in 2 days time, and they will be here at 8:am.

The day, they should start, we waited until ten in the morning, no one was coming, we called the estate agency, and they said there was a little misunderstanding and the workers had gone to a different site instead of coming to ours but they are on their way. We didn’t think much of that small incidence.

Well, the job began and they knocked the walls down, and things seemed to progress very well. The main reason why we had decided to change things up, was because we didn’t like where the bathroom was located, It was blocking the light, and the house was very dark especially in the winter months, so we wanted the bathroom to be moved, and that area to be turned into a dining area with a good size window so we can have sunlight and also enjoy the view of the mountains.

Things Seemed To Progress Well Until

As I mentioned, things seemed to progress very well until when they should make the hole for the window, my husband noticed that the hole did not match the other windows, in hight, and from outside the building looked ridiculous with one window higher than the others. Yet they were doing the final touches in preparation for placing the window. That’s when we stopped them and told them to go home until they are contacted by the real estate agent.

And then we arranged a meeting with the contractor and the reals estate agent, and we requested that the real estate agent come and see that hole for the window, they told us to take pictures and send to them which we refused to oblige because we felt that they need to come and see for themselves, besides, we were paying them a lot of money for the job.

The issue was resolved and the job continued. Finally the windows and doors arrived, and we were very happy about that, but it turned out that they were not complete and they were just frames and they had to be taken to Chania(Hania), for the final touches and for the glass to be measured, we thought that can’t be complicated ( wrong).

After many problems, like the window man saying, he is coming to fit them and never show up and then when he would show up he will just have one window I will not go into too much in detail about it but it was lots of headaches, with the window man, finally the windows and doors were fitted.

The Job Was Not Completed Within The Time Frame We Were Given, Well, It Was Not Competed At All Read On You Will See.

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Then it was time for the floor to be done, we had chosen very beautiful large tiles for the floor and we wanted them placed on the floor in a diamond pattern rather than just the usual straight pattern, they told us that cannot be done, to which my husband told them it can be done. The contractor claimed that the large tiles cannot be placed in a diamond pattern.

Well, my husband told him that his childhood home had a tile floor and they were laid in a diamond pattern so yes it can be done. At that point my husband told them that he will lay the first tile and then they can just follow the pattern which is what we did, we lay the first tile and they followed it and things seemed to continue well.

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This is the tile we placed

Towards the end of the job, things started going wrong, the so-called contractor was supposed to do all the plumbing and the electrical work, he would show up one day, then he won’t show up for two days, meanwhile we were running out of time because the job was supposed to take two and a half months and now we were heading toward the end of the fourth month.

It Was Becoming Very Expensive For Us

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We had not planned to be out of our house for longer than 3 months, I will not go into many details because this post is getting too long, but I will say that by this point we were very angry and frustrated. The final draw came when the so-called contractor should reconnect the water for the ice maker of the fridge he demanded 30 euros this is despite the contract stating that he was to reconnect anything that he had disconnected during the job.

He also demanded 130 euros to reconnect the neighbor’s water that he had disconnected because we shared the same meter as the neighbor and we wanted our own meter. So we had told the contractor that he should disconnect our pipe and connect it to our own meter which we had gotten after lots of headaches.

Anyway, when he disconnected the neighbors water, he did not reconnect it, and since the neighbor does not live here the whole year, we did not know that his water was disconnected, the neighbor showed up just as the contractor was finishing up, and complained that there was no water at his house, to which we replied that we had disconnected so we can connect our pipe to our own meter.

We Were Not Happy With How Things Were Turning Out

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plugs were put facing the wrong way

We told the contractor to reconnect the neighbor’s water, he told us that we had to buy some things so we told him to write them down and we went and got them immediately, when we came back he told us that he will have to come the following day because he had a wedding to attend. We were not happy about this at all but there was nothing we could do, the next statement that came out of his mouth made my husband tell him to go and not even bother coming back.

He said that the job to reconnect the neighbor’s water will cost 130 euros. That is when we had enough and called another plumber to come and reconnect the neighbor’s water, the new plumber charged us 40 euros.

Anyway, 6 months after the job, there were a few things that we had to fix, some electrical work that was not done properly, like the underfloor heating in the bathroom was not working and we had to find an electrician to come and fix it along with power switches that were not working, not to mention the ones that were put the wrong way.

We Didn’t Know That There Was a Big Problem In The Kitchen Wall

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water damage on the kitchen wall from bathroom

But we did not know the disaster that was to befall us. As we were in the kitchen one evening, we noticed that the wall between the bathroom and the kitchen was bubbling, we didn’t think much of it because we thought it was just the paint, we went and bought paint, scraped the wall and painted it, within a few days the wall started bubbling again, that is when we called a builder who we had found through a friend.

When he came, he told us that he thinks there is water leaking from the bathroom and going into the wall. We decided to consult with the plumber who had connected our neighbor’s water, he also said the same thing and he said the only way to fix it is to remove all the tiles from the bathroom and fix the leakage.

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more water damage on the wall from the bathroom

We Had To Do The Job Ourselves, Read On To Find Out Why

That was a very big blow to us because we had spent lots of money already and now we had to rebuild the bathroom all over again. As I am writing this, we just finished rebuilding the bathroom, and we had to do it ourselves read on to find out why. When the tiles were taken out, we found out that the leakage was caused by the connection for the taps it was connected without being sealed, so that is where the water was leaking from.

The whole wall was damaged and it had to be scraped down and a new plaster was put and we made sure that the damp protection was put.

Not Again, How Can This Happen to Us Again?

The Guy who was to redo our bathroom was recommended to us and he is an English guy from the UK so we thought, based again on what he told us and according to him he has done many jobs here in Crete. So we agreed on a price, we bought all the material needed, and we relaxed thinking in three days the bathroom will be ready, that’s how long he told us it would take.

Well, after the wall was stripped and scraped, the plumber came and fixed and sealed the water connection, the builder was able to plaster the wall, and he also put the damp protection, and now all that remained was to put up the tiles, and then we are done, well not that simple.

The first thing we noticed was that the builder didn’t have a tile cutter, this was strange given the fact that his business card stated that he is a professional builder and included in his specialties was tiling. Anyway, we did not give it any thought. He was using a grounder of some sort that was covering the whole neighborhood in dust.

Moment Of Truth We Got A Shock Again

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We had to take all the tiles off after the second guy messed up

When he told us that the tiling was done and the following day he would come and do the final touches, I could not contain myself, I was so happy that I will be able to use my own bathroom again, we had been having showers at the neighbors house, which was not very convenient but we were grateful that we did not have to stink for three days.

The thing we didn’t know is that three days will turn into 2 weeks with no shower ( where is shock emoji when you need one?) when we went to inspect the tilling work, we could not believe our eyes, I just sank to the floor. We immediately took all the tiles down because there was no way we could live with what we saw.

The following day we paid the builder for what he had done but he agreed that he should not be paid for the tiling, at that point even if he had wanted to be paid the full amount my husband and I just wanted him gone. We were so frustrated and disappointed.

Time For Us To Get Our Hands Dirty

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We then had to start putting the tiles up again ourselves

We went back to the tile shop to get new tiles because we tried cleaning the tiles we took down but, they just kept breaking, when we got to the tile shop, we found that he only had one box left of the color shade we wanted, and he did not even know if they still make that exact shade anymore, because apparently, the box is from the bunch from the tiles we bought back in 2016 (another emoji please)

We told him to do his best and find us something we can use, and bless him he did, he found us a box that is pretty close to the original tiles and he even gave us a discount, I guess he felt sorry for us after we told him what we’ve been through, he did offer to send us a tiler but we were too afraid to try someone else, so we told him we will just do it ourselves.

Since my dear husband has a back problem and can’t do manual labor for many hours, we thought it will take many days, but our dear neighbor and a dear friend of ours offered to help and the job went well, and now the bathroom is done and ready for use.

Conclusion

There are many things that we have dealt with since the remodeling of our house but I could not list everything, the point of this post is to warn you about people who might want to take advantage of you, by purposely messing up the job, so they can come later and charge you more to fix the mess they created in the first place.

One thing that I found very interesting is that the contractor kept saying that if we find anything that needs fixing to give him a call. My theory about all this, is that he messed things up on purpose so he can keep coming to fix things and keep making money from the mess he created, I mean if he has worked in building and construction for over 20 years, how can he not know a simple thing like to make a hole for the kitchen sink?

Yeah, that’s right, when it was time to put the sink in the kitchen, he told us that he does not know how to drill a hole for the tap, yet when my husband and I started drilling the hole, suddenly it all came back to him and he could do it. Oh and by the way not only did he not connect the fridge for the ice maker, but he also lost the part for connection and we had to buy another part and actually we had to wait for it to be ordered from Athens.

It’s Not Fair That We Have To Keep Spending Money on Something Just Because Someone Decided to Mess Us Up

Then we had to pay someone else to come and reconnect the water, there are so many things that we’ve had to pay for, and I am so angry that we are still spending money on something that was supposed to have been done and over with.

Anyway, I would like to hear your opinions about this, please leave your comments below.

Thank you for your time

Rose

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2 comments on “Living In Crete, Beware Of Fake Building Contractors

  1. Oh dear what a dreadful story i’m moving to Crete early next year i’m just in the middle of purchasing a house near Agios Nikolaos i’m a Carpenter by trade but can do most jobs tiling plumbing electrics ect. I am seriously considering starting an expat maintenance company…regards carl

    1. Hello there Carl, first I would like to thank you for reading and commenting on my article. secondly, I would like to welcome you to Crete and hope your move will progress smoothly. I think an expat maintenance company is a great idea, especially if you are going to deliver good service, we sure could use some professionals who do what they promise to do and in a timely manner.

      Again, welcome to Crete and I hope you will enjoy living here, it is a beautiful Island that is for sure.

      Rose.

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