KIAMA, NSW — Contract disputes over the meanings of the words “soon”, “progress”, “free time” and “when I get a chance” are causing further delays to the long-overdue Shower Recess Project at Number Thirty-Eight.
This new development is yet another setback for a project that has been plagued by misfortune since raising initial funding in late 1998.
The first indication of problems became apparent soon after the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, Darren Collins. Despite a promised immediate start date, it was several months before workmen appeared on site.
Said Collins at the time, “You don’t realise what it takes to prepare for something like this. It takes time to plan out a job of this size. You can’t just go out and buy the stuff you need from a hardware store. Well, you can, but how do you know how much stuff you’ll need?”
Soon after knocking out the first tiles, Collins discovered structural problems in the floor joists below the bathroom. The woodwork had rotted due to water leaking from the cracked shower base. Work was immediately halted over concern for worker safety, and local sub-contractor Adam Vidilini was called in to give expert guidance.
With structural integrity restored, several more tiles in the shower recess were removed. Work was interrupted again when management requested a new kitchen be installed. Further additions to the scope of the contract included a backyard retaining wall, gardens, a paved area and a “bit of a clean-up out in the computer room”. Collins also claims he was made to bring in washing on several occasions and mow the lawns.
Picking at a few of the loose tiles on site today, Collins remarked, “A job like this takes time. I just need a really good day of work, without any other interruptions. And it can’t be a hot day, or a rainy day. I’ve just got to find a bit of free time.”
When asked about several other bathroom projects of similar scale undertaken by friends of management, Collins replied, “Yeah, those jobs might have been done quicker. But at what cost? You can’t get a better quality of work than I’m providing, and certainly not at a lower price. I’m actually losing money on this deal.”
Despite these claims, management has threatened to call in a new contractor on several occasions. Collins has always protested, warning of possible strike action or lockouts if such a situation arose.
Negotiations are expected to recommence this week, and if all goes well work could resume as early as next weekend.