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Opening my own language school... Another Flood!

Viewed 2419 times 2012-11-22 15:41 |Personal category:Opening my own language school...| guangxi, nanning, business, management, school

2 weeks ago, after a period of heavy rain, the school had a small flood in the reception area. Water came though a drainage vent in the floor and came in through a pipe from outside. Though the flood was annoying, and took a long time to clean, it was nothing compared to what happened yesterday, but i will get to that in a short while.

After a day or 2 of small floods, we contacted our landlord and the building management to see what could be done. Eventually, after a few days more of small floods, a representative of the landlord came and sealed the pipe which was letting water back flow and sealed the drain which was letting water come from below. The caused a small amount of water to be drained to the back of the apartment building through a pipe which was already in place when we moved in, but was not sealed properly. The pipe is less then 2 meters from a main storm drain, so the majority of the water ran off into the storm drain, but there was some standing water, not much, but a little.

This upset the building management. It upset them a lot!

This is not the first time we have had a flood, and not the first time we asked for something to be done, at one point Maria cried in the management office because of the flood problem, but we finally got it sorted. I don't know why they didn't do this in the past, but we didn't care anymore, the problem was solved.

Because of the small amount of standing water, the management company began to complain to the landlord. They made it out to be such a big problem, but I don't know why. The building is shaped very weirdly at the back, it is hard to explain, so I will draw a picture...

... The water is only visible from our schools windows at the back and by people who choose to walk down the back of the building, though no one would really have any reason to walk down the back, all that is there is the ventilation outlets for the lifts and storm drains. Because the management were over reacting, we just ignored them.

A few days later, we turned up at the school early in the morning to start our new set of advertising. The second we arrived, the 2 young maintenance guys walked in the school with hammers wanting to remove our pipe. We told them there was no way we would let them remove the pipe because it was stopping the reception area form flooding. They said it had to be removed because of the standing water, we told them to go and get their manager and we would phone the landlord.

We didn't want to do anything that would cause another flood, and we did not want to take any responsibility for any after affect if the pipe was removed or changed, we had finally solved our problem and did not want to have any more trouble. When we spoke to the landlord she said that, the best solution was to extend the pipe so that it reached the storm drain, therefore there would be no standing water, and no problem. We agreed that this was the best idea. The land lord called the building management and the main leader said this was fine. Shortly after, the young boys came back with the deputy building manager. He asked to come in, and we showed him the pipe, he said we had to remove it. We said no. He started top become really aggressive and a little abusive. He said it was unacceptable to have water running out of the pipe into public space. He said the water was unattractive and smelly. We countered with the point that, for months we have had problems with the same water coming into the apartment, and they have not cared, the manager said one sentence which really made us angry. He said "你的房子里不管我事,我只管外面的事情“ translated "I don't care about your apartment, I only care about outside".

The was a step to far, we argued that we pay management fees and so it should be his problem as the water is not water we used, it is water from other apartments which is back flowing and causing the leak.

We asked if he would take responsibility if he changed the pipe and we flooded again, he said no. We said, if you wont take responsibility, why should we change the pipe, he said because the standing water did not look nice and it was unsafe. We told him what the landlord had said and that his boss had agreed, he didn't care. He asked to speak to the landlord, we said if he wanted to talk to the landlord, he could contact her himself. He stepped out into the corridor with the 2 maintenance guys and started to curse and threaten us. He said he would force us to remove our advertising from the windows and near the door, he said he would force us to pay extra management fees and make us pay for our share of the lift electricity bill (we shouldn't have to pay this as we are on the first floor and don't use the lift).

Maria contacted the landlord and spoke just as loud as the deputy manager was speaking outside out door. Eventually he left. The landlord said she would speak to management and get them to just extend the pipe. All seemed fine.

Maria went to do some advertising and I left the school for class elsewhere. We returned in the evening and building management had said that they tried to contact us while we were not here, and that they had sorted out the pipe. We were relieved and went to work. About 7:30PM the water in the building was switched off. It was switched on again 30 minutes later and what happened next made us even more angry! The toilets started to floor. We contacted building management to ask them to come and look, they said they were busy eating and would come a little later. The water level on the toilet floor began to rise and the apartment opposite toilet's  also started to flood.

We called management again to ask how they had fixed our pipe, to be told that they had just blocked it with cement so the water could not leak outside. We became as angry as you could be and demanded that the building manager come back. After almost an hour of phoning building management, phoning the building deputy manager and phoning the landlord, the deputy manager finally arrived and started to talk to Maria and the owners of the apartment opposite .

Every one was very angry and arguing. We asked when someone would actually come and fix the problem, they said someone was on their way. The water continued to rise, it flew out of the toilets into the corridors and into the classrooms and into the office. Toilet water was everywhere. Yellow brown, smelly toilet water everywhere.

At about 11:00PM, someone finally arrived to sort out the problem. By this time we were tired, frustrated, angry and wanting to jump off a cliff. The water eventually receded and we called the deputy manager. By his time he was apologetic, and he agreed that he would send people the next morning to clean the floor and then come by himself to inspect any damage and discuss costs. We felt a little relief and went home.

The next morning we arrived, called building management and a team of ladies turned up with mops ready to clean. less then 5 minutes later, they left. I thought they had went to get extra equipment, but after 15 minutes, they had not returned, i asked Maria what was going on. They had basically just dried the pissy toilet water up, but not cleaned anything, not used any cleaning liquid or anything... the floor was covered in a greasy residue so we called building management again, and the deputy manager had got his attitude back, he became aggressive again, and started to shout over the phone. Maria put the phone down and called the management office. They came back and reluctantly re-cleaned the floor, actually cleaning it this time.

The deputy manager did show up, just for long enough to ask us to remove our advertising and threaten to pull out the building management regulations. We ignored him.

So, we are now in a position where, probably the next time it rains, the toilets will flood again and there is little we can do about it. We can move, but our registered students would probably want a refund and we don't have the capital to give them one. We have asked the landlord to fix the drain, but after an inspection by a specialist, it turns out to be very complicated and expensive. So... we called a lawyer to get info on our options, and though we are protected by our contract, any reparation we would receive would probably not cover the moving costs, so, now we wait and hope the landlord sorts something out. Such a $hitty experience! Literally!

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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My name is Daniel, I am 27 and I come from The UK. I have been in China since September 2009.


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