An Awkward Decorating Client on an Outside Job

By Mike Cupit


You know you get some decorating clients who are just a pain in the backside? I’m lucky in that most of my work is repeat custom, but I do get the odd one. It just so happens I’ve just finished a job for that one awkward decorating client!!


An exterior job, priced in January when we didn’t have much on. I probably did under-price it slightly, but the client got three quotes and I was somewhere in the middle. I happened to get a very good price for the scaffolding which we needed for the job and I’m not VAT registered, which is what made my overall price slightly lower than the other two.


Anyway, 6 months later I got the go-ahead and started the job. Couple of gables, a load of sills and lints, some garden walls. Nothing too big, probably 6 days’ worth of work for two men. The client was down to get any joinery repairs sorted and he also asked if the roofer could use my scaff, no issues with that really.


We had the scaff erected the day before we were due to start, the scaffolder asked for a deposit, I passed that request to the client, who then started being a bit funny. I had a bad feeling from that point onwards, but he did pay the deposit in the end.


The roofer he had doing the work was away the week we were there, which meant we could crack on. We got everything boxed off to a good standard in a timely fashion. We went to lengths to surface fill every bit of masonry with Toupret Skim Coat and made sure it was right. There were two little bits we couldn’t do. One was a joinery repair, the other was 3 coping stones on one of the garden walls which we couldn’t get to because of the scaffolding. The client paid us, but kept £300 back. He also refused to pay the scaffolder until everything was done. No biggie, he didn’t have much work to get done, then the scaff could come down and we could get everything boxed off.


The client did a site inspection and pulled us on 3 minor points (one of them was because we hadn’t painted the inside of the plastic gutters). We went back 3 or 4 times, either to do the minor snags, or because we were led to believe the joinery repair had been completed.


Anyway, it hadn’t. I’d promised the scaffolder we only needed the equipment for 2 weeks then he could take his kit back. 6 weeks later, I’ve got a high-rate scaffolder demanding money off me and a client who couldn’t organise a p*ss-up in a brewery and is refusing to pay. What should have been an easy job ended up being a lot of mider!! That scaffolder was ringing me every few days and I was stuck playing piggy in the middle. I felt like a numpty.


The scaffolder, knowing the client was being funny with everyone, wanted his money before the scaffolding could come down. The client, being a funny bugger, wanted the scaffolding down before he would pay!! What a ball ache!! I really wasn’t happy with how the situation played out. Drama at every turn!! How would you have handled it.


Anyway, lesson learned. I managed to pacify the scaffolder in the end. I won’t work for that guy again and people can sort their own scaffolding out from now on.

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An Awkward Decorating Client on an Outside Job