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Old 09.06.2010, 14:32
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Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

Hello, I'd be very grateful if somebody could assist with this.
My girlfriend and I bought an old house 4 years ago on the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore.
We've been renovating it for the last couple of years. A plasterer has been in there for a number of months re-plastering the walls to make them smooth. The work is being organised by an architect and I'd assumed that the standard would be good as we've paid a lot of money for the work. However, I visited last weekend with a friend of mine who is a decorator and the quality of the plastering is really, really poor.

Some parts of the walls are as smooth as glass while others are like the back of a cheese-grater. There is also the problem where it appears that the plasterer has done the top half of a wall and then returned maybe a day later to do the bottom half and they don't actually join smoothly and so there are loads of swirls along the centre of the wall where the plasterer has tried to blend them in.

We're planning on painting the walls and so this poor plastering is going to look appalling.

I've raised the problems with the architect and I've shown him what we're not happy with but his response was to say that this was the normal standard of plastering in Switzerland and that it would now be the decorator's job to smooth the walls by sanding them.

From my point of view this is ridiculous as the plasterer has bee working in the house since February. The area is quite extensive and it would take the decorator a very long time to try to go over everything and sand it. In addition, I don't believe that sanding it would fix the problem.

I'd always thought that the quality of Swiss work would be very good. I'm considering how best to proceed in relation to this but I thought that it would first be sensible to see if anyone else has any experience of trying to get their walls plastered in CH so that they are smooth and what sort of result they had from this work.

Obviously I want to avoid a legal dispute, particularly one that I won't win if it's just the case that Swiss plasterers can plaster smoothly.

I'd be grateful for any comments/advice. The cost of the work was 78,000 CHF by the way.

Thanks.
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Old 09.06.2010, 14:41
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

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I'd be grateful for any comments/advice. The cost of the work was 78,000 CHF by the way.
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Old 09.06.2010, 14:41
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

Hello Anthony
Not sure what you mean?
Are you saying the plasterer has to sand it? I've checked with the architect and as far as the plasterer is concerned the work is finished.

Mike
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Old 09.06.2010, 14:46
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

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Hello Anthony
Not sure what you mean?
Are you saying the plasterer has to sand it? I've checked with the architect and as far as the plasterer is concerned the work is finished.

Mike

Sorry I was thinking of drywall...like they do in the US. If you want to avoid legal battle and the areas that are not great are not that many, just sand them down yourself...much easier and quicker than dealing with the bureaucratic mess.
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Old 09.06.2010, 14:52
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

Hi Anthony
Unfortunately it's the whole thing that's poor work.
I just wanted to find out whether this is normal in Switzerland or not.
Mike
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Old 09.06.2010, 14:55
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

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Hi Anthony
Unfortunately it's the whole thing that's poor work.
I just wanted to find out whether this is normal in Switzerland or not.
Mike

Then no, but it is very likely that the plaster guy is not swiss. If you can afford it and are willing to go through the hassle tell the contracter you will get a lawyer involved.

I have noticed in Switzerland they will try everything to get every cent out of you untill you stand up and get it done properly.

got any pics of it?
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Old 09.06.2010, 15:13
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

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Then no, but it is very likely that the plaster guy is not swiss. If you can afford it and are willing to go through the hassle tell the contracter you will get a lawyer involved.

I have noticed in Switzerland they will try everything to get every cent out of you untill you stand up and get it done properly.

got any pics of it?
Don't want to stir up a Swiss/not Swiss thing, but so far the immigrant tradesmen I've met here on the whole have done outstanding work and in a very timely manner. A good friend of mine here is a French retired general contractor, and he loves to point out how painfully slow the Swiss are when doing construction/reconstruction . The best was when we were watching a building site together, and he said- "Watch, they're going to drop that pallet of bricks", and sure enough the crane got it about 10 feet off the ground when it all spilled .

But- the difference between natives and farners has always been more of a time (and thus price) thing, quality always seems to be very high. Judging by the time and price seems like your guy is Swiss... maybe he's hoping to slide some crap work past a foreigner .
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Old 09.06.2010, 15:41
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

I've seen lots of really poor plastering here - including ceilings on new builds where there is a visible slope and drop of about 3cm across a room (which was deemed acceptable).

I was really surprised that we had to pay more for a smooth finish, rather than a rough finish on our walls. We opted for a rough finish as they couldn't really mess that up.

As a comparision, I think the standard of plastering in the U.K. is a lot higher and a smooth, perfect finish is considered the norm.

The price seems outrageous. Was it agreed beforehand?
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Old 09.06.2010, 15:43
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

i know a great plasterer in london. he also does decorative plastering (he did bits of the royal albert hall). i daresay for 78 kilochuffs you could get him to fly over and do the work

edit: note to self for future - for any plastering work in switzerland be sure to include a clause on the smoothness of the finish (need to work out how this can be easily expressed in legal / physical terms).
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Old 09.06.2010, 16:02
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

Thanks to everyone for their answers so far, I'll respond to your individual points/questions:

Phil_MCR: the agreement I have with the plasterer says the plaster should be smooth. When you look at it and run your hand over it it goes from rough to smooth to rough. From my point of view it's therefore not smooth. I'm hoping that will be enough.

Tom1234: at least from your response I feel comforted to know that there is a problem with their plastering in general. Yes, the price was agreed before hand. I think it's very expensive, at least double what you would pay in the UK (it's actually quite a big area that has been plastered as the rooms are over 4 metres high). When I queried the price I was assured the quality of the work would be very good. In addition, it was part of the overall renovation of the property and so I had to go with the whole of the work that needed doing and this was a part of it.

Mud: It seems to be true that they'll do one standard of job and then when you complain they come back and do it again to put it right. They normally seem to agree that it's poor when you complain but I don't understand why they don't try to do a good job in the first place.
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Old 22.07.2010, 16:54
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

If there is a real issue you can always get it expertised. this form of arbitrage seems to work well.

After several renovation projects, I can say you need to stand up for what you want and be looking over the workers shoulders. That goes for the US UK and Switzerland. Every time I have not been there to look over the work there has been an error....
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Old 22.07.2010, 17:03
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

We had a similar problem when building our house, I was nostalgic after the "home" look and wanted painted, plastered walls too. This is rare in CH, (or certainly where I live) here they either opt for the rough (pebbledash?) finish or paper plain wall paper on and then paint over it, it's apparently better for sound absorption.

Our lads did a good job, though they were slow and complained about it a lot, asking me several times why I didn't opt for the rough effect. The company was Swiss and the plasterers were Italian. It cost us no more than a regular plastering job, though the owner did tell us later that, had he known that I wanted smooth walls when he made the quote, he'd have charged more.
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Old 22.07.2010, 19:36
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

Go back and look at the specs. If you agreed and paid for smooth plastering, you should get smooth plastering. The way to get a smooth finish is not to plaster to a rough finish and then sand it. The end result would be uneven and look stupid. You get a smooth finish by applying a skimming layer. A rough finish and a smooth finish are different applications with different materials. And by the way, anybody who knows anything about plastering will tell you that it's essential you plaster an area in one go. Anything else and it's asking for trouble.

We had our walls smooth finished by local plasterers and they're smooth as silk.
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Old 22.07.2010, 20:06
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

My mate is a developer here and he tells me that he wont use swiss workmen anymore as he never gets the quality he wants. I think the whole quality thing here went out of fashion in the nineties

as for the plastering. the only way to solve it is to reskim the surfaces.. and a tip.. good skimmers are really quick !!
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Old 22.07.2010, 20:29
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

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as for the plastering. the only way to solve it is to reskim the surfaces.. and a tip.. good skimmers are really quick !!
I second this!
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Old 22.07.2010, 23:33
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Re: Quality of Swiss Wall Plastering

A number of points to consider, we have been through a similar thing with a builder and I work in the building field and thought I knew most of the tricks.
1. Do not talk to anyone, send a registered letter outlining the problem (manglerouge or similar in Deutch) there is a very formal proceedure with this (after the first letter) if you do need to take legal action later, it must be followed to the letter to have any sucess.
2 Do not pay until the work is too your satisfaction.
3 It is the Architects job to get it fixed, he/she is in charge and dictactes weather a tradesperson gets paid or not. (they regularly take a few thousand off jobs for bad work, weather this actually get passed on to the owner is hard to say)
4 A good rule of thumb, use only Swiss tradies for electrical and heating (technical stuff) for all the reat use Auslanders.
5 Swiss building law is not geared towards helping or protecting homeowners from bad workmanship, it is there to protect "poor" tradespeople from the "rich/mean/fussy" homeowner, so legal action is often expensive and futile.
6 The normal way a good architect fixes a problem like this is to get an offer to repair/make good the problem, allow the plaster (in this case) sufficient time to repair it or subtract that amount off the bill so you can get someone to fix it.
7 We have had some quite warm weather so it (depending on the size of walls) it sounds like the plaster "went off" before they finished smoothing it and are trying to bullsh*t their way out of trouble.
8 Don't worry it can (as had been said earlier) easily fixed with a skim coat, but keep the painters away until it is right.
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