Workmen on site, all day, every day

I know something like this was asked a few weeks ago, and advice was forthcoming, - I’m on a lovely 3 day sit in a beautiful old house: so old in fact, it’s grade 1 listed - a Tudor moat house. Obviously, the exterior of the house needs constant upkeep. For the entire three days I am here, there are two (local) men undertaking cosmetic work on the exposed beams of this house. The work must have been scheduled, I understand that, but they are in and out of the kitchen, the bathroom, and this morning, when they arrived at 9.30am, they just opened the front door. I had no idea anyone was outside. They obv have a key. One of them even asked me if there was: ’ … any reason these dogs are outside in the garden …?’
I feel I cannot just come and go. they are in my face and I feel it necessary to explain myself when, eg I popped into the local high street this afternoon.
It is only for three days and tomorrow I leave. Everything else is fine… apart from the rats at the base of the hen house (does this count as extra pet sitting? )

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Hmmmm… sounds like they might’ve booked a holiday in order to avoid the necessary work disrupting their lives. Great for them - not so wonderful for you. Could you politely ask the workmen to knock before barging in?

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@LTD , Sorry to hear about this uncomfortable situation. Because of my own bad experience and based on suggestions I got here on the forum, prior to a sit I now ask the HO who else has the key to the house and if anyone else will be coming to the house while I am there. This may prevent this kind of unwelcome surprise in the future. At least you only have to deal with this for three days.

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I am so sorry @LTD
Something similar has happened to me on two occasions. We quickly nipped this in the bud on day one. We contacted the owner to say that this was not agreed and could they re-arrange the work to commence after we had finished the sitting. As @Myhnabird says, the owner didn’t want to be there while all of this unpleasant work was going on but they did agree and postponed the work.
We told the workmen that we were volunteers, didn’t get paid for this and the workmen then understood our predicament.
I know all of this is too late now that you are leaving tomorrow but you do need to tell the workmen that you are not paid help, it was not agreed that they were there and they need to respect your privacy.

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Rats often come with the territory when there are chickens but workmen in the house is just cheeky and taking advantage of a willing sitter. Please have the courage to mention this in your review (see other posts on this delicate subject).

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Wow, that would be annoying. Did the homeowner warn you in advance that the workmen would be there, and if so, did they give you any direction as to whether they want the men inside the house when you are home, or when you are not?

Since it’s a short sit that’s almost done, I think I would also ask them to knock if they are coming in and I might contact the HO and ask if the men can be in the house when you are not home.

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Hi @LTD
Doesn’t this contravene the ‘no other person in the house whilst you are sitting rule’?
You should have been warned ahead of time and given the option to refuse the sit if this isn’t something that you are comfortable with.
Who’s accountable if they start a fire and deny it? Cause an injury to one of the dogs with falling rubble and drive away?? Steal something???
I would be very unhappy with this arrangement and it would be reported.
@Angela-CommunityManager what do you think?

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Hi @LTD and thank you for tagging me @Julia … I’m not quite clear whether or not you were aware of these works being carried out before you accepted the sit or if this was scheduled after the fact.

Were you aware before you arrived at the sit?

Even though it’s as you say “Only three days” if you are being made to feel uncomfortable by these contractors then you should let the owners know.

The best solution to any problem is usually found when honest and fair communication happens and if necessary members should always connect with Membership Services.

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No, I was not aware of these works before the sit. I messaged the HO once or twice in the run up to the sit and asked for a welcome guide but this was not forthcoming.
The first I knew of the builders was, just before leaving, the HO told me they’d be arriving shortly. And they did … 10 minutes later.It is specialist restoration work they are doing: filling in the timbers on the external of this grade 1 listed building. For that they need to access scaffolding, which in fact has been in place for two months. Looking at the reviews the other recent sitters have written, they have not mentioned the scaffolding or the work being undertaken although he builders themselves have mentioned to me the recent sitters in the last 6 weeks or so.
I reckon that the HO has become immune to the builders on site and has not even thought to mention it.

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I think that this is appalling…… I am amazed when reading through various posts on this forum of some of the things that HOs do that it would never occur to me to do and this is one of them! You should have been informed of these works before you accepted the sit. This behaviour is in my view totally unacceptable regardless of the length of sit…

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@LTD am I correct in thinking that this is your second sitting that is not working well? Your first sit was that the dates had changed after you arrived?
Do you have any more sits arranged? If so, I would suggest that you check out and ask everything now so that there are no surprises. If anything has changed then you are in your right to have it changed back to what was agreed.

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@Itchyfeet- I would refuse the phrase ‘not working well’: the workmen on site all day every day (for three days): the HO is a busy executive for a major UK company and is spending 2 -3 days at a time in London on business. As a single man, I can see how he has other, pressing and conflicting priorities and I am sure that when restoration work is booked (which includes the hire of scaffolding), it is not easy to reschedule that restoration work. I have to be pragmatic. The workmen said that they have been working on the house for the past two months and have seen THS Sitters come and go, and so far, as far as I can see, none of them have brought this up. I can’t contact them so I wouldn’t know but they have not mentioned it in their review of the sit.
I have just arrived at another sit and I had been told that the kitchen was being ripped out (but not that a painter would be on site again, all day, 8.00am to 4.30pm, today, and Friday).
I honestly think that HOs who post sits regularly won’t have reappraised themselves of the ‘rules’ and I am sure Mr London (above) will have skimmed over that part of the ‘dos and donts’ for sitters on his property, as have the people whose house I have just arrived at.
The HO whose dates were out of kilter with when she wanted me on site: she is a first time HO / THS user and I believe she thought she HAD to have the sitter on site for 24 hours upon her return (although why, I am unsure).
All of this convinces me though, as you suggest, that sitters need to ask more pertinent questions when accepting a sit … as will I!

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I’ve never really asked if anyone else will be in the house during a sit because I have always assumed it would be mentioned during the interview (like a cleaner etc). However, after reading some of these threads, I think I will add it to my list of questions to ask from now on. May as well be proactive.

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This sounds very uncomfortable to me. Since it is such a short sit, I would just suck it up and move on. However moving forward I am going to ask all my hosts before agreeing to sit whether there will be any workers or maintenance happening while I am there. It does not sound relaxing at all. I’m sorry this happened to you.

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Frankly, that’s rotten. Did the owners tell you in advance there would be workmen coming and go the entire time? This just doesn’t seem right and feels like you were taken advantage of. Thank goodness it was a short sit.

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@Foldor13 @LTD I totally agree…its just not on especially with the covid situation as it is and workmen just letting themselves into the house while you are there @Angela-CommunityManager I hope somebody at the THS end will be talking to the HOs about this sort of breach. From what I have read in previous threads, it happens far to often and while it works for the HO who gets to have a peaceful holiday away from the work being carried out, an unpaid sitter who is there solely to look after the animals and house security ends up in a totally different role. Its really not on.

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@LTD what you describe is outrageous three days or not! Its a red flag to every sitter to ask the question early on ‘are you planning any trade work while you are away’ ‘who else has a key’

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Hi @carpediem as with any situation giving a member cause for concern, the advice is first speak with the owner/sitter concerned and then communicate with the Membership Services Team who will take details and manage accordingly …