Diary of a Surrey Lofts Conversion From Hell
UPDATE: We were advised by both the police and Citizen’s Advice to post a review about our experience with Surrey Lofts Group Ltd. After doing so Mark Grimshaw called me and attempted to blackmail me into removing the review. He threatened (a) he would not honour the 10 year guarantee and would never fix any issues unless we removed our review, (b) he would fight to not have to repair the damage his company caused and (c) he would personally post false/damaging information about my wife online so as to harm her professional reputation, and would also get everyone he knows to do the same. We have the recording of this call and it has also been shared with the police along with evidence of the theft from our property.
NOTE: If you’re really pushed for time you can read the bullet points of all the issues we encountered with Surrey Lofts here.
This is our Surrey Lofts review after hiring Mark Grimshaw and his company to convert our loft. If you’re considering Surrey Lofts then this review might help you decide whether they’re the right loft conversion company to use.
I’ll warn you in advance this is not going to be a short read – it’s in a diary format with the events of each week listed in order. It is an accurate depiction of what we experienced. and if you’re considering spending tens of thousands of pounds on getting a conversion done, it’s probably worth a few minutes of your time reading this.
As a business owner myself, I’m always aware of the importance of reviews and so my goal with this is to give an accurate account of our experience based on the facts. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
Getting a loft conversion is a massive investment and if you’re looking at using Surrey Lofts, reviews from other customers can help you get a good idea of what actually happens.
With that said, when considering who to use for our loft conversion we did as much research as we could, getting four different quotes and ultimately decided on Surrey Lofts because of the prior reviews that we found online. They were nearly all positive so we expected, or at least hoped, we would have a positive experience too.
(Though since employing them we have found a few other recent Surrey Lofts reviews from customers who have also had trouble.)
== The quote ==
The managing director, Mark Grimshaw, visited our house to give us a quote for the works. He was pleasant and answered our questions and told us that the works typically take 8-10 weeks, but a project like ours – converting a 3 bed semi – is their “bread and butter” and would likely take around 6 weeks.
We also got several other quotes, and while Surrey Lofts weren’t the cheapest, they did have a good selection of reviews and appeared to be a professional company.
Their quote also made clear mentions of how they hold their workers to high standards e.g. they’re all rigourously vetted, instructed not to walk around shirtless etc. Not that we mind if someone is up on our roof without a shirt, but it seemed to indicate at least a certain professionalism and respect for the customer and their home.
The other difference was that they would also supply a portaloo so that the workers wouldn’t need to be constantly coming in and out of our house to use the bathroom. Since my wife and I both work from home, this was also a benefit to us.
After some time to consider, we chose Surrey Lofts to undertake the conversion.
After the deposit was paid and contract signed we were appointed Mariusz as a project manager who came to meet us and explain the process in more detail.
== Week before work started ==
(Or the calm before the storm)
The scaffolding went up the week before work was due to start. The scaffolding included a tin roof that covered the rear of the roof and plastic sheeting that was covering the front.
== Week 1 – 10th June ==
(The first leak)
Work started promptly on the Monday morning with two guys who arrived and began removing most of the existing roof tiles and dismantling the existing roof structure.
On Wednesday it rained. A lot. So much so that we could see water streaming down the windows in the upstairs bedroom bay window, suggesting that the gutters were overflowing. By about 5:30pm we also noticed that the ceiling of the bay window itself was bulging and appeared to be filling with water. We called Mariusz who said he would come and check it first thing in the morning.
Mariusz never came by that next day so at lunchtime on Thursday I contacted him and asked if they would be able to check. Without even having looked at the problem he said “it’s nothing that we’ve done.”
The steel beams to support the new floor were delivered and during installation the workers accidentally severed an electrical cable. We were without any lights upstairs overnight until they returned to fix it the next day.
== Week 2 – 17th June ==
(Not a lot happening)
The guys continue with building the frame for the new loft and dormer. By Tuesday evening they’re finished and come down to show us some pictures. It looks good from what we can see.
Nothing else happens for the rest of the week.
== Week 3 – 24th June ==
(The second leak)
Still nothing happening on Monday.
It rained overnight and at 5am on Tuesday morning we’re woken up by the sound of water coming into our son’s bedroom. It’s coming through the light fixture in a rapid drip. We text Mariusz who comes over by 9am.
Looking at the roof from below we can see that the plastic sheeting at the front has dipped so that a large pool of water has formed. This is where the water was overflowing and then spilling directly onto the exposed bedroom ceiling. One of the guys gets up and empties the plastic tarp and describes it as a “bath full” of water that was sitting in it. But we are assured that it is all fixed, secure and watertight now so that it won’t happen again.
The electrician and plumber are also in attendance to do the first fix. The electrician advises that we should leave the power off for a few days to allow everything to dry out. So that’s the second time we’ve had no power upstairs. This time it takes three days before the fixture no longer crackles when the power is on.
Nothing else happens on Wednesday or Thursday. On Friday morning we text Mariusz to see if anyone is coming to work as no actual work on the structure has been done for 10 days at this point. Mariusz comes over later that day to install the windows. (We later find out that this shouldn’t have been done at this stage, but there is a reason why he did it)
== Week 4 – 1st July ==
(The third leak)
Still nobody around working on the project this week. Mariusz says it’s because they have another job with large steel beams so they need the workers from our project to work on that project. Even though our project started first.
Roofers are meant to be here on Thursday but never show up. Mariusz says they too are stuck on a job and will be here next Monday. So no work has been done at all this week.
Sunday evening at around 7:30pm we have water again coming through the ceiling in the front bedroom. This time it’s come down along the wall behind the wallpaper which has bubbled up and then burst around the door frame. It hasn’t rained for two days so we’re not sure why it’s happening.
At this point we try ringing Mariusz who doesn’t reply. It’s understandable given that it’s a Sunday evening, so I go up onto the scaffolding myself.
Again the plastic tarp has filled with water. The wind is causing the tarp to move which is tipping water out over the edge of one sheet and again onto the exposed ceiling. I manage to dump out the water and hope that it doesn’t rain again.
While up there I look at the gutters and find they are completely blocked with bits of broken tiles that came off the very first day. It’s been two days since it rained and the gutters are still full of water. The previous issue with water seeping into the bay window on day 3 of the build would have been from this same issue i.e. blocked gutters. I clear the tiles and the water drains away as expected. I don’t understand why after they first issue they didn’t clear the gutters.
Mariusz replies via text and says that the roofers will be there tomorrow (Monday) and will make sure everything is waterproof.
== Week 5 – 8th July ==
(Project manager quits)
On Monday all the roofers are meant to be here, along with other guys to continue work on the loft. One guy shows up on on his own – without any tools – around 10am and says he’s a roofer friend of Mariusz’s and he was asked to help out. He says he can’t do much as his tools are on another site.
Wednesday we notice that the new gable window is clear and not obscured as it’s meant to be for permitted development. Mariusz says that we asked for the clear glass – which we didn’t because (a) we wanted to match our existing obscured side window on the 1st floor and (b) he told us it had to be obscured – and then when we query this he says he’ll order the obscured glass.
At this point we’ve been contacting the office asking if there should be more work being done on the loft. The office believes that works have been ongoing the whole time. Mariusz tells us it’s because they’re waiting on a delivery of materials but they keep being delayed – first from Wednesday, then to Thursday and then to the following Monday.
On Saturday we get a text from Mariusz telling us he’s quit working for Surrey Lofts.
Around the same time we also get an email from Mark Grimshaw (managing director of Surrey Lofts) informing us that Mariusz has quit. He tells us that Mariusz was setting up his own company behind their back and that’s why we had nobody working on our loft for three weeks. They were working on Mariusz’s other projects. He also never ordered any of the materials that he said had been ordered. He also never ordered the portaloo.
Mark apologises and tells us he’ll be personally overseeing the project from now on and will be round on Tuesday to talk to us and assess everything. He assures us that everything else will be completed in a “timely and organised fashion” and that “there will be no further delays in any of the job”.
While it’s a shock, our thoughts are that nobody could have seen that coming and that Mark seems to be on top of things. So it’s frustrating, but seems like they’re doing what they can to fix it.
== Week 6 – 15th July ==
(New project manager AWOL)
The new project manager, Andy, calls round on Monday morning to assess and calls Mark to give him an update telling him there’s a lot of work to be done. He brings two guys, Jack and Brett, who will be working on the project. We’re told it’s been classed as an emergency for them.
Tuesday we’re expecting Mark round as promised in his email but he doesn’t show up. Jack and Brett do a couple of hours work in the morning but then leave for most of the day as, apparently, Jack has to get the MOT for his car done.
Wednesday Brett is sick so only Jack is here. Jack says he can’t do much on his own. Andy is also meant to be here from noon but does not show at all.
Thursday the stairs are meant to be installed. For this they need to break through the ceiling and advise that we should be out of the house. Both my wife and I are self employed and work from home, so we cannot be available to work today. We’re told six guys are all meant to be here at 8am to install the stairs. Nobody arrives until 10am and then it’s just Jack and Brett. We can’t get hold of Andy.
Eventually the office gets hold of Andy and calls us back to say that the stairs will instead be going in tomorrow (Friday). This will mean us again taking the day off of work and vacating the house by 8am.
On Friday we’re up and ready to leave again at 8am but no sign of Andy and extra guys to fit the stairs. Just Jack and Brett again arrive after 9am. Nobody can get hold of Andy. Eventually in the afternoon Jack gets hold of Andy’s partner and she tells him that something has happened, but won’t say what.
This whole time the new stairs are left on the ground outside.
The office calls Jack to find out what’s going on. Vicky from the office emails us to say that Jack has told them the whole of the loft has been plastered, bar the bathroom. This is a blatant lie. The loft room doesn’t even have all the walls built, let alone boarded and plastered.
We’re also told that the roofers (who were meant to be here today) will be working all day Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to catch up.
The roof tiles were meant to be craned up to the scaffolding but have all just been left on the grass verge outside our house on the footpath.
The roofers only come for ~3 hours on Saturday morning.
It’s the end of week six now. Remember when Mark said that this project was their “bread and butter” and that it should be done in six weeks. In actual fact what we have at the end of week six is a loft structure with just the frame. No floor. No roof. No walls. No sign of Mark coming to personally oversee things either.
== Week 7 – 22nd July ==
(Angry neighbours and leak #4)
Monday – Andy is meant to be here at 8am. He doesn’t arrive and we can’t get him to answer his phone. After we contact the office at 10am we’re told he’ll be here at 11am. He eventually arrives at 1pm. There has only been one guy on site all morning, again not able to do much on his own.
A truck pulls up to collect the skip. It turns out the company called Mariusz and he said it’s nothing to do with him anymore so they came and took it away. Andy manages to get another skip ordered.
The roofers didn’t show up again. Andy calls them and they say they’ll be here Tuesday instead.
Tuesday – Mark called round today and unsurprisingly everyone was on site on time for when he was there. The stairs finally went in today, which meant we were out of the house again for another day. When we came home the banister had been damaged, a door frame had been damaged and our landing light was smashed. Mark assures us that the plastering will be finished by the end of the week so that we can book a tiler for the bathroom early next week. He also notes there’s still no portaloo so says he’ll order it. (He never does)
Wednesday – only Jack is on site. Again says as he’s on his own he can’t do much.
A neighbour comes up to our house and bangs on our door. He’s looking for Andy. Apparently Andy crashed into his car previously while attending the site. He asked to keep insurance out of things and just settle with cash. The guy went away and got an estimate but now Andy is dodging his calls. In frustration he’s come to our house shouting and looking for Andy, but Andy is not here as usual.
Thursday – the roofers are here for just over an hour. There’s no sign of Jack, Brett or Andy. The roofer tells us that according to Andy, Jack has a toothache so that’s why nobody is here. However the office calls Andy and he tells them he has no idea why Jack and Brett aren’t here.
At the end of this week we’re meant to have the whole loft room plastered as Mark assured us. In fact there are still walls to be put up before any plastering can even begin. The plasterboard has been left out in the rain so now it cannot even be used. Our whole front garden is a mess with materials and rubbish everywhere.
I email Mark to let him know and send him a picture of the current state of the loft but never receive a response from him.
At this point the roof is meant to be weatherproof but overnight it rains and leaks into the new loft room. If you’re keeping count there’s been the leak to the bay window in one bedroom, two leaks in another bedroom, which makes this the fourth leak we’ve had from the roof not being protected properly.
Jack and Brett are meant to be here Saturday from 9am to catch up. At 10am there is no sign of them. I text Andy to see if he knows what’s happening and says he’ll find out and call me right back. After 30 minutes with no word from Andy I try calling him to find he’s turned his phone off.
== Week 8 – 29th July ==
(Supposed to finish this week)
Monday – We ask what happened with nobody showing up on Saturday as promised. Brett says that Jack never came to pick him up. Separately Jack says that Brett wasn’t ready when he went to pick him up. At least one of them is lying.
Finally they get all the walls built and get the bathroom plastered in the evening.
Tuesday – Mark calls Jack to check on progress (because again, Andy isn’t here even though he says he will be). Jack tells Mark they’ve plastered half the loft. Again, a blatant lie.
Jack pulls down the old ceiling in the first floor bedroom bay window and reboards it. Says Brett will plaster it later. Our son has to sleep on a mattress on the floor in our room in the meantime as the curtains are down and the room is full of dust.
Wednesday a delivery shows up but there is nobody from Surrey Lofts to accept it. I have to help unload it myself. The delivery driver says he’s not surprised as whenever he goes to a Surrey Lofts site there’s rarely anyone actually there working. I have only his word on this so can’t say how truthful it is, but our experience is that they’re here less than half the time they’re meant to be.
Mark and the office have assured us many times that the project will be completed by the end of this week as we’re leaving for a vacation on Monday. It’s clear it won’t be complete so speaking with Mark he says he can take our key and let everyone in on one day to finish all the second fix works. We agree on the condition that they key is only to be held by him. He agrees and says he’ll collect it on Friday.
Thursday – we book an external tiler who comes in and tiles the bathroom in just a day. He does a great job and the Surrey Lofts guys are impressed he was able to do it in a day.
Friday – Mark calls to collect the key. He speaks to Brett and I hear him say that plumbers and electricians are booked for Monday and Tuesday next week when we’re away. It’s not the one day he told me previously on the phone, but we need to get this project completed.
Saturday – again Jack and Brett are meant to be here to catch up and finish with plastering. Neither of them arrive. Instead two random guys show up and ask to be let into the house to get materials to take to another job. My wife is here on her own and is uncomfortable letting them in without verifying who they are. Jack isn’t here as promised so they say they’ll try calling him. He doesn’t answer. Eventually the guys leave taking some materials that were left outside. They also comment on how bad the site has been left.
Sunday – knowing that we have to give access to these guys, in the evening I take photos and video of the current state of the rooms that have work left to be done i.e. the front bedroom and all of the loft and new stairs. (This will be useful further on in this diary!)
== Week 9 – 5th August ==
(A week away from the madness)
We leave for holiday first thing Monday morning. According to Mark the second fix works should be done by Tuesday. The way that Surrey Lofts work is that after each stage of work is completed we are sent an invoice for that stage’s payment. As such we were expecting an invoice for the completed second fix works by late Tuesday or Wednesday.
== Week 10 – 12th August ==
(It’s. All. Gone. Wrong.)
Tuesday – one week after the second fix works were meant to be complete and we’ve not heard from Surrey Lofts so we email them for an update.
Mark replies telling us that there has been an issue with our boiler that supposedly caused a leak and damaged the ceiling below. He claimed it was the old water pipe going into our old boiler that was the problem. (This doesn’t make sense to us since the boiler is less than two years old and was serviced less than a year ago)
He says it happened overnight and they discovered it in the morning. The part that worries us was where he said, “We have moved all of the furniture and had de-humidifiers in there drying the room out and are hoping to have this plastered today but it’s still a little wet.”
Again, this didn’t make sense as there was no problem with the boiler or pipes before we left on Monday, and we knew the plumber was booked for Tuesday.
We got through to Mark on the phone and he said it was a small leak from an existing pipe that had accumulated and damaged the ceiling. However he said that they had to pull the whole ceiling down and put in de-humidifiers which did NOT sound like a small leak to us. Also a small leak over time would have been visible by discolouration on the ceiling below. There was no such marking visible on Monday morning when we left.
We asked him when it happened and he told us they found it Wednesday morning (i.e. the morning AFTER the plumber was booked to have been there). Apparently they noticed a few drops of water on the table.
Nothing about his story made sense. A small leak would have been visible and would not have needed de-humidifiers in a room as well as pulling the whole ceiling down. Also, there was no need for them to be there looking at the table in the downstairs dining room to notice a few drops on it’s surface.
When we tried to question him more he got defensive and claimed we should be grateful as he wasn’t charging us to rip out our old ceiling and put up a new one. (I’m pretty sure you can’t charge for works that the client hasn’t asked you to do and that you haven’t even informed them you’re going to do)
Despite our doubts he was adamant that it wasn’t their fault and that they hadn’t even done any work on our first floor. Again, that didn’t make sense as the plumbers were booked in the previous Tuesday to do exactly that work. The boiler is in the first floor bathroom.
Wednesday – we got home from holiday that evening. While driving back from the airport Mark sent us pictures that had been forwarded to him from the labourers. These were to show the project was finished. (If Mark was supposedly there as the only one with the key, I’m not sure why he didn’t take pictures himself, unless of course he had just given the key to the labourers)
When we arrived home it was clear it was anything but a small leak. Our table was completely water damaged. The rug below it was ruined. The floor was warped. They had used our towels to mop up the water. They had quickly put up a new ceiling, plastered it to a poor finish and hurried to paint it.
The pictures that the labourers had sent to Mark were very clearly cherry picked to show the good parts and leave out the bad. The project was very much unfinished.
We documented everything with photos and videos.
Not only have they left place in a mess, they were also helping themselves to our food and drink while we were gone and didn’t even clean up after themselves.
There was also no sign of our key which Mark said he would put back through the letter box. It appeared that Mark was not there to lock up so we didn’t know who had our key.
We also found that the boiler wasn’t working so having alerted Mark to this via text he arranged to have the plumber come out first thing
Thursday – the plumber arrived at 7am. Given the amount of lies that have been told – both to ourselves and also by employees to the office – we felt we couldn’t trust anything we were told by Mark about the leak.
So when the plumber arrived, I turned on the voice recorder on my phone. He admitted he was here that Tuesday to do the work on the first floor boiler (refuting what Mark had said). He said that he hadn’t seen any small, existing leak before starting work (refuting what Mark said), that the damage caused to the downstairs was not from a small leak (refuting what Mark said) and he freely admitted to not checking his work before he left.
Luckily we had this recording because when we emailed Mark to confirm what the plumber had told us he says the plumber denies everything and Mark actually suggested *we* were being untruthful. We then told Mark that we had the recording.
At this point Mark stops even responding to our calls. Even if we call the office and ask to speak to him the secretary will initially say “of course, who’s calling?” but when we tell her our name suddenly he’s unavailable.
While all this is happening the roofers come round to finish the job (that Mark told us was finished) but find there are no materials that Andy had promised. So instead they say they’ll come back on Sunday. Even they’re frustrated with Andy and Surrey Lofts, saying that they’re not going to do any more jobs for them if they can help it. It costs them money to go out to a job and find Andy hasn’t left materials when he says he has.
Friday – already the new ceiling downstairs is yellowing and cracking. It was clearly still too wet to re-plaster and paint.
They consider the project finished but the snagging list includes some pretty major items like:
– Bathroom window missing parts of trim
– New loft window that doesn’t close
– Light switch not attached to wall
– New window cracked
– Spindles on stairs are not straight – out by a full inch from top compared to bottom.
– Replaced our broken ceiling light with cheap pendant
– Bay window ceiling still left unplastered
– Hole in exterior wall
– Chunks of skirting board missing in multiple places
– Dormer windows have no trim to keep water from going behind tiles
– Bedroom door doesn’t shut following leak around frame
– Sections of wall that are just unfinished with big holes or bare plasterboard
– Render missing from chimney
– Not a single floor board screwed down in new loft room
– The plumbing connecting the boiler to the new loft bathroom is not up to regulation.
– New radiator doesn’t heat up.
Andy meant to be here at 8am to fix the (long) list of snagging issues. Still not here at noon. He calls just after 12pm to say there’s not much point coming now but he’ll definitely come tomorrow (Saturday). He gives us his word (not that it means much to us now)
We also had an independent Worcester-Bosch engineer attend to check the boiler just in case there was an issue that we were unaware of. He confirms the boiler and existing pipework is fine and is shocked at the quality of the work the plumber from Surrey Lofts has done. He says if he had done that he would have been made to fix it. It’s not even up to regulations.
Saturday – Andy texts to say the tradesmen let him down and he won’t be coming after all, but he will be here Monday. We know that the roofers need the tiles for Sunday so we ask if he can at least bring those around even if he doesn’t have the tradesmen to do the other work. He never replies. We try calling him later and he just ends the call as soon as it starts ringing.
The bathroom at least is finished so we decide to start painting that. We get all the paint and then when we go to get all of our decorating equipment out of storage we find that things like our step-ladders, painting equipment etc is missing.. Our guess is that when they were re-decorating the dining room that flooded they used our stuff and then threw it all in their vehicle when leaving.
Sunday – Roofers manage to get tiles from Andy’s house so they can finish. They tell us he’s gone away out of town, so he lied to us when he said he would definitely be here on Saturday.
== Week 11 – 19th August ==
(Where is our house key?)
Monday. Mark still not returning calls. We give him the recording of the conversation with the plumber after getting his consent to share it.
Three guys come to fix snagging issues – they’re meant to be here until they’re all finished. However, at 2pm Andy calls and pulls them off to go to another job. Apparently they need to pick up tiles for the roofers that Andy had forgotten to get. We’re told they’ll be back tomorrow around 8am to finish.
Tuesday. One guy shows up at 10:30am but at least he’s doing good work. Apparently he’s new with the company.
We still don’t have our key. According to the office Andy has it at home, but he’s been in Bognor Regis with his family since Saturday (so he was never going to come here on Saturday or Monday as he said). He was never meant to have the key, only Mark was, and given the fact Andy was almost never at our house it’s pretty safe to assume that Andy just gave the key to Jack and Brett. Our neighbour confirmed she saw just those guys working most of the time.
Mark tries to claim he was in fact in charge of the key the whole time and only gave it to Andy on Thursday. This doesn’t make sense as we were home on Wednesday, so why would he not give it to us? We also know from our neighbours that the guys were working late past 10pm some nights – to cover up the leak – so we ask Mark to confirm that if he was the only one with the key that he was also there everyday to lock up, including those nights past 10pm. He doesn’t reply as we’ve seemingly caught him out in yet another lie.
Wednesday – going through the snagging list we’re told there’s one item that they won’t fix – the door frame around where the second leak occurred behind the wallpaper. They try to claim that at the start of the build the doors never shut and that Mark agreed with Andy to install smoke detectors because the doors didn’t shut. (However Andy wasn’t on the project until much later). They tried to claim the leak would not have affected the door frame because it was from the boiler, however they’re forgetting that there were multiple other leaks from the roof – all documented with texts to Mariusz. Mark is just lying again to try and not fix problems they’ve caused.
Thursday – Thankfully the one good guy is still working on snagging issues. We finally get our key back over a week after we’re home but have already changed the locks as we don’t know how many different people have handled it.
We’re told by the one guy working that Brett was fired and Jack suddenly moved away, while also owing someone a substantial amount of money for a car. Again this is just what someone has told us so cannot verify it’s accuracy. He also told us that the reason the windows were put in so early was because then Mariusz could claim the biggest expense payment for the account right before he quit and left the country.
== Week 12 – 26th August ==
(“Do you smell burning?”)
Slow week. Still waiting on a couple of snagging issues to be fixed.
One night we hear a crackling sound in the ceiling of first floor bathroom. On taking out the bulb we find a piece of pipe insulation was sitting directly on top of it and had melted and charred and could have been a fire hazard. Looks like it was left there when installing the new loft floor. I’ve changed that bulb before and the foam was not there. Emailed Mark but he doesn’t seem to believe us and suggests it looks like something from an Amazon box rather than pipe insulation. The implication is that we’re making things up despite showing him the picture of it. Also Amazon doesn’t use styrofoam – just paper – in any of the deliveries we get.
While cleaning all the windows we notice two of the panes are damaged. Looks like a coating damage or residue on the inside of two of the panes. Mariusz would have seen this when putting them in if they were damaged then, but he wouldn’t have cared considering he just wanted to get them in to get paid before quitting.
Plumber is meant to come and fix pipes on Friday. Never shows and when finally get in touch with him he just says “I’m not going to lie, I forgot to come”. He comes on Saturday and fixes everything.
== Week 13 – 2nd September ==
(Who takes money from a child?)
Had to pay external carpenter to shave the door so that it will fit with carpet.
Started decorating while waiting for final snagging issues to be fixed. Had to spend two days sanding, filling and shaping the plaster to get it smooth enough to decorate. This is even after guys from snagging had patched a lot of it up. The contract says it will have a “smooth finish ready for decorating”. We told them it’s disappointing we had to do this – not even asking them to fix it – and Mark claims that it’s meant to be left so that “it needs filling, sanding and then painting.” despite the contract stating otherwise.
Notice £40 missing from our son’s charity jar. He puts a portion of his pocket money away each month to give to charity. On August 1st there were two £20 notes and coins. On September 1st when he goes to put money in he finds the two £20 notes are missing and just the coins remain. Literally the only people in our house during that month were ourselves and workers from Surrey Lofts while we were away.
We told Mark about the missing money and he again thinks we’re making stuff up. We’re not asking him to re-pay it or anything and are very clear we have no evidence at that point as to who took it. Just that it was there August 1st but gone on September 1st. He says we should get the police involved (as a scare tactic) and suggests that we’re just trying to stall things to avoid paying. He doesn’t seem to realise we’re actually telling the truth. We also haven’t had a final invoice to be able to pay it, and there are still issues we’re waiting on them to fix, so it makes no sense to suggest we’re the ones stalling.
We tell him he can definitely feel free to bring the police around with all his contractors. We haven’t done anything wrong, nor are we trying to hide anything. We are trying to get things finished as soon as possible – it’s week 13 after all. We’ve also initiated payment on every invoice within minutes of seeing them and at this point we are desperate to be done with them. However we’re not prepared to pay until everything is complete because we don’t trust that they’ll come back and fix any issues if they’ve already got payment. He doesn’t respond.
Later on I go through all the photos I took the evening before we went on holiday (because at that point I didn’t trust them and wanted a record of how we left things) and also the video I took immediately upon walking into the house after returning home to the aftermath of the “small leak”. Comparing the images from right before we left and right after we returned, we can see that the jar (and only the jar) containing money had clearly been moved while we were away. We share this information with Mark and he never responds.
Saturday we notice that the radiator in the new loft bathroom doesn’t work.
== Week 14 – 9th September ==
(Building control inspection.
Think it passes?)
On Tuesday the plumber comes to fix the bathroom radiator and another guy comes to replace the damaged window panes in the bedroom. Looks like everything is finally done!
Wednesday we pay the final invoice so that they can inform building control of completion.
Thursday the building control inspector comes round to inspect their work and it FAILS the inspection. The inspector also tells us they should never have asked us to pay the final invoice until it was all signed off by building control.
We have to get Surrey Lofts to come back and make it good so that it can hopefully pass again. They say the earliest they can have people available is Monday. With no way to force them to come sooner we have to accept that. We ask Mark if everyone appears to be free on Monday, would that be a good day to have all the guys come round with the police to discuss the theft? After all, when we told him of the theft he suggested he should organise just that. However, now we’ve shown him photographic evidence he says Monday is too soon to organise all the guys and *we* should contact the police and he’ll take care of things on his end.
We reply saying we’re free every day but we don’t know when all his guys are free, so he should organise it as originally suggested. At this point he’s turned on his “out of office until Monday” reply which from experience means he won’t be responding. He also doesn’t know we’re aware that Brett has been fired and Jack has disappeared so it’s impossible for him to get all the guys to attend with the police.
I don’t think he wants to contact the police himself and have to tell them his employees have stolen from a customer.
== Week 15 – 16th September ==
(Nearly there? Ha ha. Nope.)
I thought I would be done with this diary already.
Monday – Andy was meant to show up to fix the issues that caused the building control inspection to fail. There’s no sign of him by almost 1pm so we contact the office. They said that Andy has contacted us to reschedule. (He hadn’t). Apparently he’ll be here tomorrow instead with the electrician.
As expected, Mark never replied to the email from last week about contacting the police regarding the theft.
Tuesday Andy arrives without the electrician and fixes the hole in the wall. He confirms the issues with the electrics that need to be fixed but as he’s not an electrician he cannot do the work. We later hear from the electrician that he can’t attend today. We contact the office asking if they can arrange an electrician to attend soon and Mark replies to us stating that the electrics are fine. This is despite (a) not seeing them for himself, (b) his employee confirming the issues after inspecting them just that morning and (c) the building control inspector being the one who flagged the issues. We contact the inspector who says he will send another email to Surrey Lofts confirming the issues that need to be fixed.
Wednesday an electrician attends to check out the issues and he says it looks like when the guys from Surrey Lofts were boarding the loft they had screwed through an electrical cable causing it to eventually fail. This is what was spotted by the building control inspector. It gets fixed so hopefully we’re now done. We just have to wait for all the final paperwork and certificates from Surrey Lofts.
== Week 16 – 23rd September ==
Waiting on the final completion pack and paperwork. After receiving nothing by Friday we contact the office who say they’ll have someone sort it out next Tuesday.
As suggested by Mark we contact the police ourselves on Friday regarding the theft of money from our son’s room. Realistically we’re not expecting the police to prioritise this – there are obviously many more important crimes to attend to – but we feel it’s important for our son to see that crimes should be reported and investigated. The investigating officer recommends that we leave reviews of our experience online for other potential customers to see.
== Week 17 – 30th September ==
(Surely, this is the end?)
Unsurprisingly there is no sign of the completion documents as promised.
== Week 18 – 7th October ==
(One step forward, two steps back)
Monday we again contact the office to find out what’s happening with the completion documents. Andy calls back to let us know that actually the electrical work isn’t fully completed and up to regulation yet so the electrician can’t issue the final certificate needed. A different electrician has to come on Wednesday to finish the electrical work and certify that it’s good.
On Wednesday the new electrician turns up to inspect everything and issue the certificate needed for building control. He says this should have been done previously and typically the building control inspector should have had a copy of this at the time of making the final inspection (i.e. a month ago). The only reason we were able to get this now is because we had to hassle Surrey Lofts to get our completion documents and then it became apparent to them that this was never done. Again it just reflects the fact that Andy should not be managing a loft conversion project as he doesn’t know what needs to be done at each point.
== Week 19 – 14th October ==
(Anyone know a good lawyer?)
On Thursday we receive the final completion paperwork. The work comes with a 10 year guarantee but I sincerely hope we never have to use it because (a) I do not ever want to have anything to do with these guys and (b) going by the Companies House records – showing how Mark has had several companies with multiple voluntary liquidations – I’m not convinced the company will still be around if anything does happen. After all, the company number listed on their website at the time of writing this is for a company that was put into voluntary liquidation months ago.
On Friday we heard from the insurance adjuster that Mark Grimshaw is still claiming the extensive damage caused by his plumber was the result of a small existing leak from before they ever worked on our heating system. We have a report from the independent boiler engineer who installed and serviced the boiler who confirms there was no sign of any leak on the existing system – repaired or otherwise – and no sign of any problems since installation.
We contact Citizens Advice who advise us that given that the damage to our property has not been fixed yet, the project/work is still considered unfinished, so we are legally entitled to have the damage fixed regardless of what is happening with the insurance claim. They tell us we may have to take them to court to achieve this.
== Week 20 – 21st October ==
(Threats from the owner. Seriously.)
My wife submits a review of our experience as recommended by the police officer investigating the theft of money from our child’s bedroom.
Within a couple of hours Mark Grimshaw calls me and threatens that:
- By leaving a negative review it invalidates our guarantee. I tell him that’s not true and he simply says that so long as the review is up they will never honour the guarantee or come to fix any issues.
- He will fight to make sure that the damage they caused – currently going through insurance – will not be repaired by themselves or their insurance.
- He will personally post false/negative information about my wife online to damage her professional career. He will also get everyone in the world that he knows to do the same.
It’s complete blackmail where he tells us that if we pull down the review then he’ll leave everyone alone but “leave it on [the review], and let’s see what happens.”
(I wonder how many other people who have posted negative reviews have later retracted them under these kinds of threats)
Fortunately we have a recording of this phone call as well for future evidence. Understandably shaken, my wife takes this into the local police station who list it as a communications offence. The officer tells my wife that if Mark Grimshaw contacts us again he could be charged with harassment.
== My opinion on Surrey Lofts and Mark Grimshaw ==
All of the above is an accurate account of what we experienced. I’ve been very careful to only present the facts and events as they happened so as not to compromise the integrity of the review.
However, as you can guess my personal opinion is that you should not employ Surrey Lofts or Mark Grimshaw to undertake any work on your property whatsoever.
We understand mistakes can happen and issues can crop up – and we were very patient and understanding at first – but what’s important to us is the way in which a company will respond to those mistakes. Will they own up to it and put it right? Will they apologise for the inconvenience? In our experience Mark will deny liability, lie in order to shirk responsibility and then try to convince you it wasn’t a mistake or that it didn’t actually happen.
The problem for him is he’s not very good at lying and with so much of a paper trail between emails and texts etc it’s easy to call him out on it. At that point he’ll just stop responding to you.
If you leave a review, rather than trying to address and fix the issues, he will instead personally call you and threaten you in order to get you to take the review down.
It was clear to us that at the end we were little more than a nuisance to him. He wasn’t bothered about apologising for the poor quality work, failing building control or even the theft of money from our son. Having to respond to all of these things just seemed like a chore to him. As a customer it felt like he didn’t give a damn about us and wanted us to just go away – which we would have been more than happy to do if we could just get them to finish the work!
At any time he could have taken ownership of all the problems and attempt to resolve them, but he chose not to and just got more defiant and aggressive as time went on.
In doing more research on Mark Grimshaw and Surrey Lofts after all the issues we’ve had, we found that he’s been a director for multiple companies involved with building and loft conversions. Several of those have been voluntarily liquidated, and in fact at the time of writing this review the company number listed on their website is for a company – Surrey Lofts (Weybridge) Ltd – that has been put into voluntary liquidation several months ago.
He’s since started up a new company called Surrey Developments (Walton) Ltd, so who knows how much longer the current company – Surrey Lofts Group Ltd – will be around. He appears to be a serial director and there’s another post on Surrey Lofts with Companies House data listing just some of the companies he’s opened (and subsequently closed).
== It’s not all doom and gloom ==
Something that showed us just how bad Surrey Lofts were is that our neighbours decided to get their own loft conversion at the same time we did.
They used a different company who were the total opposite. The company they used was Teal Co (www.TealCo.co.uk) and we could see just how much better they were. TealCo were on site every day, on time. The employees were polite and the work was finished to the expected high standard and on time (Despite starting a few days after us, their project was done by week 8). Our neighbours were extremely happy and for any future works on our house, TealCo are going to be who we will call first.
Secondly, we have to thank Logan and Son Scaffolding. When they were taking the scaffolding down we got talking to the owner, Logan, about the issues we had and how £40 had been stolen from our son’s charity jar. A little later that day Logan knocked on our door with an envelope and said, “We all had a collection to get that money back for your boy.” We were stunned. It had nothing to do with him but he and his employees had put their own money into the envelope and had actually doubled the amount to £80. We’re extremely grateful to them, not just for the money, but for showing our son that even though there are people out there who will steal from you, there are still kind people out there who will go out of their way to good. Our son was keen to not have the money sitting in a jar anymore so that night he donated £86.15 to Children in Need.
== Conclusion ==
(But I’m sure there’s more to come)
I warned you that it was a long read. But hopefully if you’re considering using Surrey Lofts for your loft conversion, this review has given you an insight into how they work and how Mark Grimshaw treats his customers – lies, damage, theft and even blackmail.
If you’ve had any experience with this company and want to share your own Surrey Lofts reviews, feel free to leave your own review here.
*Please note that any comments expressed by other people below are the individual’s own opinions and we are not responsible for the accuracy of anything posted by a third party.