When pleasing the neighbour becomes impossible

Our neighbour returned yesterday after a two-week holiday in Crete. We specifically organised all the ceiling repairs to her flat for while she was away so that she didn’t have to be here for any of it. This is what she wanted. So naturally we thought she’d be really thrilled to see it all done when she got back yesterday.

But she’s not happy about a couple of things. One is that the join between the ceiling and the coving is slightly different in the place where they replaced the ceiling to that in the rest of her kitchen. I can see what she means but to be honest I didn’t notice it until she pointed it out. It’s purely aesthetic and as far as I’m concerned, insignificant. The other problem is that there’s a crack in her bathtub which she said wasn’t there before she went away. I can’t imagine why any of the workmen would have gone into her bathroom. The toilet is in a separate room and while they may have used the toilet I see no use for her bathroom. There’s a laundry with a sink right next to the kitchen and this is the more likely place for them to go if they needed to wash something. It’s very odd and I have no explanation but offered to ask the team for her about it.

It’s fair to say that I’m beginning to lose patience here. I think we’re starting to reach the conclusion that pleasing our neighbour is an impossible task and probably not worth the stress and expense. So far this has cost us £1980 and that’s not including our own expenses for the plumber and eventual replacement of our kitchen floor which we probably won’t bother doing for some time. It looks like British Gas will refund us a small portion of this for their role in the damage to the ceiling but it won’t even be half. The stress and expense has grown out of proportion to the original problem due to incompetent plumbers, the British Gas engineer who pulled apart the ceiling, and an unreasonable neighbour. I’m beginning to think we should have just told our neighbour right from the start to sort it out herself with her own insurance company and we’ll pay the excess. I thought that doing something nice would be a good thing but it has just been one disaster after another.

Oh and the saga with BT continues. We discovered yesterday that they changed our phone number without telling us. Ben rang them this time and they’re going to change it back on Monday.

The good news is that my sister is here for the weekend and we’re going to take her somewhere interesting today.

13 thoughts on “When pleasing the neighbour becomes impossible

  1. I’m hoping someone can come up with some magic bullet advice for you to get this woman behaving reasonably. It’s so difficult when you are living near someone, and when you are genuinely nice, happy people like you are, it’s always natural to want to help out and assume that the other person will be pleased.
    I guess if it were me (after having taken two or three deep breaths, probably cried a lot) I would just say “No I am not paying for that to be fixed further” and give a reason (eg you have no proof that the crack was caused by your builder), and not elaborate further. The less you give someone to respond to, the harder it makes it for them. Ultimately, your neighbour would then have to force you to pay up by legal means, and she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. The trouble is that people can then resort to other bullying tactics to try to get what they want, and it’s harder to ignore them when they are close by.

    1. Thanks. It’s so nice to hear you say that. We’ve decided we’re not going to pay for any other repairs in her flat. I feel like we’ve done as much as we can do already and so I have no reason at all to feel bad and because of this, I don’t. It was important for me to feel like we’ve done right by her and I definitely feel that.

    1. Yeah, I felt pretty miffed about it last night. It was expensive and not something we had budgeted for when we bought this house. That money was ear-marked for a new bike.

  2. Hope you stay sane! I fully agree with the other commentators. You acknowledged the problem and offered to fix it which you did. She could have stayed or asked for it to be done when she was about to check standards etc but she chose to leave you in charge so has to accept that you will act in good faith (which patently you have) and apply a reasonable standard test to the quality of what has been done, which you’ve done. You are right to do no more. Sadly engaging with some people can just suck the happiness out of life and you have to back away and minimise the contact. One day she will need your help and, of course, you’ll give it because that’s how you function but by being such a snot nose she’s put that at risk. As my dad used to say, in any negotiation where you have the upper hand, ‘always leave him with his trousers’ – always maintain good will because the worm will turn!

    1. Thanks. This all sounds very reassuring. I dreamt last night that she gave us a bill for a third kitchen ceiling and also for the removal of a tree in the backyard. I was very pleased to wake up and discover it was just a dream.

  3. I too think you already went a lot out of your way for your neighbor. I think that’s enough and let them deal with their insurance.

    There are all kinds of people in this world. What is life, if once in a while we don’t deal with people with less than ideal attitudes.

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