Sorry for the delay in writing. How best to sum up my feelings about the work carried out by Bill and Ali (B & A from now on)? I have decided to look at it from three angles and hope this makes sense.
As you know, there was considerable time pressure on B & A due to the unexpected increase in repair work. However, I never felt that corners were cut as a result of this pressure. On the contrary, the work was carried out meticulously and with attention to detail. B & A also took great care to leave the house as tidy as was reasonably possible. I mention this point because I have had rather different experiences with workmen before. The overall impression was that B & A care about the job they do and the reputation they leave behind.
Perhaps you would expect good workmen to behave decently anyway, but I still think it's worth pointing out that I was absolutely happy to leave B & A in the house unsupervised (terrible word, but I can't think of another term). Even though they could hardly mess the place up any further, there is still a threshold of caution that has to be crossed before you entrust somebody with unlimited access to your home. B & A made this easy, basically by just coming across as decent guys.
3.Going An Extra Mile
While they were working in the house I occasionally asked B & A to air their views on matters relating to all sorts of home improvement considerations ("What could you do with this partition?", "Do you think this is load-bearing?", "Any idea where the water mains come in?" etc). Advice and opinion were always given patiently and in a friendly manner. I felt very much free to ask them whatever I wanted to know about. In addition they helped me greatly by removing all sorts of bulky debris (including a double bed) that materialised in our little garden as a result of clearing out what our predecessors had left behind. This was much appreciated, especially as they were under no obligation to remove any excess rubble which had nothing to do with their work.
5 Attadale Road