Monolith.Build Review – Error Riddled Building Products

Jun 23, 2017 by

The company being reviewed today has not been suggested by a reader or spikes in Google search ‘scam’ spikes. This post is motivated by my own experience.

 

 

Monolith.build are creators of ‘Stoneplus’ and ‘Brickplus’ – essentially, brick and stone construction products. A year ago I started the process of having my whole house refurbished and extended. That including rendering the front of the house. I then had to make the decision whether to get a porch or a stone door surround.

 

Stone door surrounds, at least in my area, are different to the norm. Most of the time, they look great and give the property real character. I decided to go for a stone door surround and my builder had been contacted by Monolith.build who were advertising their services. He mentioned that he hadn’t used them before but they sounded legit.

 

He asked someone from Monolith to pay me a visit. In the meantime, I contacted 3-4 other companies that offered stone or cast stone door surrounds. In the end, I was impressed by the Monolith sales rep. I had someone design the door surround (Monolith don’t design). Monolith quoted £1.6k for the complete surround. That’s a lot of money but it was still cheaper than other quotes so I decided to go with it and paid the full amount.

 

That’s when the trouble started.

 

It takes a few months for the product to be made and I had been given a set date for it’s arrival. That day had come and gone. Here’s the email exchange at that time:

 

“Afternoon Ian,

Not sure if you’re still the contact for my own order? According to construction time and email below we should have got the surround last week. Please chase…”

 

Reply:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reply:

 

“Hi Ian, it still didn’t arrive ”

 

Then this, which didn’t instill confidence:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No response to that but a few days later, without warning, it arrives. My feelings are captured in this email I send to Ian and Dave (a newly appointed sales manager):

 

“Hi Dave / Ian,

Unfortunately bad news.

So the door surround finally arrived yesterday, significantly late and with issues:

1) The delivery driver’s vehicle was unsuitable. He was unable to lower my delivery or wheel it onto my drive with a pump truck. He just had a standard white van and no idea what the package even was. To prevent further delays, I told him that I would help him unload.

He had no tools to open the wooden box so it was on me to open it up in his van. I then had to lay out polystyrene in my house and bring out each part of the surround one by one. A long and messy process.

2) The door surround is damaged and and the cornice that you have made is not what was designed. See your final design attached. I also attach pictures documenting the issues that I’ve spotted so far:

‘Adhesive Ripped Image’ – you supplied a few bags of adhesive. All were ripped. One was ripped so bad the powder was enclosed in a black bag.

‘Dent Image’ – there’s a chuck missing from one of the columns. I didnt do a good job of capturing it in that picture but can/will send others

‘Stains Image’ – staining on one of the columns and that is on another piece too. I havent tried to clean it yet but of course shouldn’t have to

‘Cornice 1’ – dents, spills on the roof, chunks missing. In addition, you have added the curved design to the bottom of the cornice making it impossible to fit it to the columns. The curved design was supposed to be facing outwards.

‘Cornice 2 ‘ – see for yourself.

‘Cornice 3’ – corner missing. Incorrectly manufactured

‘Cornice 4 ‘ – another angle

I guess it goes without saying that I will hold off referring clients to Monolith until my issues are sorted and I’m confident that referred customers will not the same issues.
I await your prompt response.

Regards,
Sandip”

 

And the images:

 

 

Dave replies that he’ll look into what happened with the production team. I give them the benefit of the doubt. Things can mess up. Lets see how they handle it….

 

A few days later and no reply from Dave. I give him a call and am put at ease. He genuinely sounds like a nice guy trying to do his best. He tells me that there have been production issues throughout Monolith and a lot of structural personnel changes are being made. He tells me that he will send his guys over to repair the issues if possible. I explain that because of the delay my builders have moved onto other jobs and I ask if he could get his guys to fit it too. To my relief, he agrees.

 

A few weeks later the installers come and are great. They repair some of the columns and install them on my house. They advise that the cornice (top part) is too damaged to repair. Dave agrees to re-make this and advises that the installers will come back to fit the rest and also fix the remaining damage on the columns.

 

After a few weeks of chasing how long things will take, Dave advises me that the installation will cost £500! I explain that he already agreed free installation and the columns are still riddled with dents. In their defense, I had asked for some minor design changes to the cornice as advised to me by the fitter and as they were being re-made I thought it’s nothing.

 

Dave’s response:

“Hello Sandip

 

Could you go half’s on the installation fee, there has been a change in the design and there are more dentals?

 

Thanks

 

Dave”

 

Tired of everything, I agree.

 

A month later I chase progress but get no response after a few emails. I then message the general Monolith email address and get this reply:

 

Here we go again….

 

I explain the whole situation. I get a reasonable reply:

 

 

We agree and I’m told this will take another 8 to 10 weeks. I want to make some further design changes and am told this will cost £300 plus VAT. I agree, pay, and wait. I also get a list from Monolith of all their approved fitters. I email every one of them within 50 miles of me but no reply (it wasn’t a very long list – I’m in West London).

 

The stone finally arrives beautifully packaged – nice and secure. A few weeks later I also find a fitter on Checkatrade who will do the job for £600. He fits the columns and they look good. However, upon inspecting the cornice he finds tiny cracks in them and explains to me that he’s not comfortable fitting it. He tells me that a year down the line he’s confident that it will only get worse and crack/crumble away.

 

They’re thin, tiny cracks. I think he’s being overcautious. I store the head pieces in the original polystyrene on my patio and search for another fitter. A month or so later and to my horror, cracks have developed throughout the head pieces. I message Monolith and get this reply:

 

 

I respond:

 

“Hi Laurence,

Okay. But is it normal for your product to start showing cracks this soon? At this rate the ‘stone’ won’t last a year.

Sandip ”

 

Laurence then attaches their BDA certificate which states that products ‘will remain effective as a thermal insulation and limestone finishing system for the life of the building in which it is installed’.  He says “With this in mind, I can assure you that our product is extremely hard-wearing.”

 

But if that’s true why has mine started showing structural defects so quickly? With a year of production issues can Monolith really say they have a robust process in place for creating these products? I think not. Take a look at the cracks:

 

 

 

They haven’t responded to my latest email yet but what can they really say in their defense? An overall nightmare experience that is ongoing, has cost me thousands, and a lot of stress and time.

 

I’ll keep this post updated with any significant developments. In the meantime, if you were considering Monolith, I suggest spending that little extra and going with another, more established company.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Ian Smith

    Sandip,it was myself who took your initial enquiry. I visited you at your home/building site. I left you various color/style and finish samples.

    Sometime later you ask me to put your original enquiry through a friend of yours at Dorchester Homes in Iver – (Predominantly a kitchen fitting company) After a long delay I received a full specification to quote on, which we did. This was to be invoiced, delivered to, and fitted by Dorchester homes. (I still have every point of communication regarding this project until the day I left Monolith)

    During the production you made several significant changes, hence the delivery delay.

    Around the time of your second complaint (09/10/16) to Dave Barkley I was in the process of losing my job, and did show due diligence in passing the whole account onto Dave Barkley and Keith Hepplewhite. Sales manager and managing director respectively.

    It was made clear at the original meeting, that Monolith do not offer a fitting service, but they could train your builder to fit Monolith products. I also made you aware of a fitter based in West London who would take the project. I gave you his contact details including mobile number and email address.

    I am greatly aggrieved that my name has been associated with review, and will seek legal action unless this review is removed and/or all association to my name is removed.

    • Sandip

      Hi Ian, just got around to your comment.

      Here are my replies to what you mention:

      1) The original specification was not changed so this could not have caused the first delay. It was changed after it arrived damaged on the first occasion. And then iterated again later for which I paid extra. My builder (Dorchester Homes) were the ones that suggested I use you guys and they were partners of yours.

      2) My complaint is not around the fact you don’t offer a fitting service. I understand that. My complaint is about general customer service and the product not being fit for purpose. Evident by the photographs which show multiple cracks throughout the surround despite it not being touched. These continued to grow.

      3) The use of your name. You used your full name in this public comment anyway? Nevertheless, readers interested in the product gain nothing from knowing people’s full name so I will edit to exclude your surname. The intention is not to personally attack, but to lay out the facts. I can find no law that stops people from being able to publish names in association with the review of a product or service. And threatening legal action unless I remove this post is very unprofessional.

      And as a general update for those who are interested in what happened to the surround, I finally found someone willing to repair and fit it. It took several days of re-casting some areas. The builder complained that on some parts the depth of the stone was only a few millimeters and on others it was over 7-10mm. Naturally, he was shocked about the cracks running through it.

      He also coated the whole surround in protective lacquer and then painted over it all to help us hide the repaired areas. He hopes that will help prevent further cracks but did mention that he cant guarantee anything. The cost of this was £650.

  2. Ian

    Sandip,

    Finally a response, only after I send a tweet to the twitter address associated to you. I believe you replied for the same reason that I replied to your original post. Professional reputation.

    Now on to your reply –

    1) You decided to to put your project through Dorchester homes AFTER my initial visit.

    2) Dorchester homes were never partners. Monolith never ‘partnered’ with any fitting company.

    3)Dorchester homes never took up the offer a fitting course. Thus this would possibly invalidate any warranty Monolith offered.

    4) I had never heard of Dorchester homes until you suggested them.

    5) I am was not involved in any the manufacturing or production process, as soon as I was made aware of issues I was pro-active.

    6) I threatened legal action unless my name was disassociated from the post. I was professional, showing due diligence through the whole process. I was made redundant during the the time of your complaint and passed all the details to Dave at a handover meeting.

    7) Yes I used my full name, on the original post you used my full name. I was defending my reputation. I will not and can not be held accountable for actions that happen when I no longer represent the company.

    • Sandip

      Hi Ian,

      I don’t check comments on this site as often as I should, hence the delay.

      I appreciate all of your points and of course, you are not personally responsible for the quality of production. Thanks for your input into this.

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