“The gas man cometh not” – thanks to Plastic Surgeon. The famous music hall hit by Flanders and Swan “The Gas Man Cometh” details a succession of tradesmen calling to put right the problems caused by the previous person’s efforts – offering a satirical slant on the building industry and the accidental nature of the incidents that generate much of the work carried out by Plastic Surgeon: the UK’s only national cosmetic repair specialist.
The tale told by the duet, popular in the sixties and seventies, goes full circle until the decorator paints over the gas tap and the long suffering householder has to call the gas engineer back again on the second Monday morning. In the case of a housing site in Devon, however, Plastic Surgeon’s swift and effective intervention ensured there was no need to call out the utilities company, despite the side of a ground mounted meter box having been shattered when a fork-lift truck caught the exposed edge.
Taylor Wimpey Homes is a regular client of Plastic Surgeon, tasking the company with carrying out a variety of ‘snagging’ jobs on its sites across the region; rather than trying to call various tradespeople back in to deal with minor damage.
While doors, sinks and worktops or chipped window ledges are the more common focus for such treatment, the job was notable for the fact that replacing the damaged meter box would have been totally impossible without disconnecting the gas pipes which pass through its walls, and removing the meter itself.
Chris Garner, one of the highly trained Finishers who works for Plastic Surgeon’s South West Region was assigned the half day job to repair the gas meter box after Taylor Wimpey’s site agent contacted the company’s National Call Centre.
He takes up the account saying: “These type of meter boxes are part buried in the ground rather than being set back in the wall of a property as is more common, and it had unfortunately been struck by a piece of site plant as it manoeuvred through what is a relatively tight archway leading through what the housebuilder terms a coach house.
“Although the lid was intact, the impact had completely crushed one side of the base unit which the pipes pass through, and split off a large section of the GRP (glass reinforced plastic). I used some of our Cold Weld gel to hold this section back in position and then built up the missing, fragmented sections using our strongest, carbon-fibre two pack filler.
“This had to be done in a series of applications to rebuild the shape. I also used the Dremel tool we carry to cut back some sections, but smoothing and sanding down the inside was the biggest challenge because the space around the meter and the pipes was so tight. I did a lot of it by hand where even our smallest, dual action sander would not fit.
“Finally when I was happy that the profile of the box was correct and you could not see where the holes had been, I recoated the whole section using the spray gun. The work took all of the four hours which had been negotiated, but Taylor Wimpey’s site agent was amazed I had been able to repair the box, and delighted because replacing it would have been a major job involving the gas engineers and the ground-worker.”
One of the services which Plastic Surgeon offers to its regular customers is monthly feedback on the type, tonnage and value of all the items which the Finishers have saved from going to landfill; based on the billing information from the palm-pilots all the operatives carry, and the bespoke VisibilITy software which was developed in house.
Although in this instance the weight was only around a kilogramme, the cost of replacement would have far exceeded the 3:1 ratio which Plastic Surgeon estimates its clients typically save for every £1 spent on the repair itself. And of course, as Flanders and Swan would be forced to sing: “Twas on a Monday morning, the gasman didn’t need to call!”
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