Awning dispute proves you should check your regulations and go with a reputable firm

2015-03-10 00:00

PHOENIX home owner Akesh Teeruth is at his wits’ end after a more than six- month-long dispute with a Durban ­carport and awning company, which he alleges provided a shoddy installation service that resulted in his house being flooded.

Teeruth said he hired eThekwini ­Garage Doors t/a Tilley Awnings and Carports to install a colourbond carport last July for R16 500, but that endless problems followed, which the company just could not seem to fix, even after nine return visits.

However, Tilley Awnings and Carports director Shamum Parsad said he had ­installed the carport according to the “client’s instructions” and could not be held liable for the problems.

Teeruth said the company had initially not replaced his roof tiles after it had installed the carport, which resulted in his kitchen being flooded.

“Another problem was regarding them joining beams, which will compromise the integrity of the structure. The supplier of these beams confirmed that the beams come in seven-metre lengths so I was not sure why Tilley Awnings and Carports [didn’t] fit full lengths.”

Teeruth said he was also concerned that the company had against his advice removed an existing gutter downpipe from his house and installed a single downpipe for both the roof and carport.

“Tilley Awnings and Carports should have never interfered with the house downpipe,” Teeruth said.

He said the wall along the side of the house had also flooded due to the drop of the downpipe.

“On 31 December we had a downpour and water gushing down the wall of my house where the carport was fixed, with water seeping through the closed windows, entering two bedrooms.”

Teeruth said Parsad advised him to submit a claim to his insurance company.

Instead, Teeruth said he e-mailed the company, which offers a three-year ­warranty on workmanship, to ask for a refund. Twelve days later the company sent staff to fix the problem and to install a new downpipe, but he said the problem worsened.

“Now the water is not flowing anywhere. Instead, water is sitting on the carport causing it to bow, and seeping through joints of the sheeting and messing the area under the carport.”

“I have been more than reasonable and have given them ample opportunity to fix their problems. I am aware that in terms of the S56 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act, I am entitled to a repair, return or refund. That choice is mine,” Teeruth said.

When asked whether he would refund Teeruth, Parsad told me that the company had closed in November and was under liquidation, with attorneys Peacock Liebenberg and Dickinson Inc handling the process. He had also advised Teeruth to direct any claims via his attorneys.

I spoke to attorney Rob Mitchley of Peacock Liebenberg and Dickson, who said he was not dealing with any ­liquidation application for the company nor any of its related entities.

The company was also still open last month as Teeruth asked for and received an e-mailed quotation for a carport.

Parsad blamed water running off the roof of the house for the problems.

“Out of good faith I tried to help him,” Parsad said.

“He is just a difficult customer who is moaning and squealing. The awning [carport] was fitted to his request.

“We cannot [re]use those materials we purchased and fitted on his instruction … I won’t do anything until he puts in 200 mm gutters on his building and diverts the water away from the awning.”

When I asked Parsad whether he had advised the client that building plans were needed for the carport — which in my view would have averted most of the problems here — he pointed to small print on the back of his quote which stated that the company “absolves itself” from any legislation or bylaws regarding installations.

“We don’t have responsibility for the plans because we were taking instructions from the client,” he said.

Granted, plans for building work should be handled by homeowners, but Teeruth said the company had not ­advised him plans were needed. Parsad said his salesman had advised the client of the requirement.

Teeruth is now pursuing the matter in the small claims court. I will keep you posted on the outcome of the case.

Ross Stembridge, building services manager at the Master Builders Association KwaZulu-Natal, a voluntary body that enforces a code of conduct that member companies have to comply with, said homeowners were ultimately ­responsible for plan approvals unless contractors specifically included it in a quotation.

He said Tilley Awnings and Carports was not a member of the association.

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