Our house has no ROOF after builders stopped work on our £71,000 extension – it looks like a bomb site
A COUPLE claim they have no roof left after a builder abandoned their £71,000 loft conversion mid-term.
Dan Phipps says the home he shares with his wife Kim has looked like a “bomb site” for five months thanks to unfinished work.
The couple have hired MH Developments Limited to add an extra floor to their bungalow in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.
They hoped the extra space would help Dan grow his dog grooming business and allow his elderly father to settle in after he fell down the stairs at his retirement complex last year.
Dan and Kim were quoted £71,000 for the job and they paid most of it up front, but after stripping the coastal property of its tiles and insulation, the workers are said to have made a runner.
Dan says he’s been trying to get them back and finish the job, or pay him back, ever since.
The company acknowledged that work had stopped but declined to comment further.
Dan said: “They took the roof off in March and we haven’t had it since. The stress has been unbelievable.
“The house is in a shocking state. It’s like a bomb site.
“My wife and I have been strong together, but this has been a test for our relationship.”
Dan said a drop of over £67,000 would be horrible for anyone, but their situation is 10 times worse because their main builder was recommended by his sister’s boyfriend of 20 years.
The whole family has now quarreled with him because of the “nightmare”.
“I was told he was a great, lovely guy who went to his wedding, so I didn’t do much research on him,” Dan said.
“My sister is beside herself with guilt.”
Dan said everything seemed OK when he and Kim signed the contract and payment schedule earlier this year.
But their suspicions grew when they noticed some elements were missing, and even more so when they received a text message two weeks into the project saying the builder was going on vacation for seven nights.
“A notice would have been nice,” Dan said.
“It ended up being a two-week break for her brother’s wedding in Jamaica, so not exactly a last minute thing.”
While the director was away, his men reportedly removed all the tiles from the roof and covered it with plastic sheeting.
But a storm hit and it’s “pouring rain inside”, leaving their home “severely” water damaged.
“He was coming all over the place,” Dan added.
Work continued when the builder returned, but the house “was a building site” with “guys swarming everywhere”.
However, there were “good days,” and when things were going well, they were asked for more money, Dan said.
“It got to the point where we paid 70% of the money for 30% of the work and then it left,” he added.
Dan sought out a lawyer to try to recover some of his money, but the company reportedly only offered to reimburse him for the bare minimum.
The two sides are now locked in a bitter argument trying to resolve the issue, with neither willing to back down.
Dan claims the company refuses to provide receipts to prove how much things cost.
But MH Developments Limited, which was disbanded in July and no longer appears on the Federation of Master Builders website, reportedly insisted it only owed Phipps £5,000.
“It’s very strange,” Dan said.
Dan and Kim have now borrowed money from friends and family to pay for work to be completed outside, but are desperate to recover the funds.
What to do if you fall for a cowboy builder
Under consumer rights law, anyone who contracts for goods and services can expect these to be provided with reasonable care and skill – and this includes builders, plumbers , decorators and electricians.
It also includes materials, which must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose.
If you have been the victim of a builder cowboy or had a dispute with your contractors, you must first gather all the evidence you have, including documents, photos, videos, messages and bank statements .
Then try to resolve the issues directly with the company, before trying an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method such as mediation or the services of a mediator.
If that doesn’t work, contact your bank to find out if you can recover the money spent using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (if the job costs between £100 and £30,000, your credit card is jointly and severally liable if something goes wrong).
If that doesn’t work, report them to the police on 101.
While the lines between what is criminal and simply bad practice are blurred, an entrepreneur could be convicted of fraud.
It is also important to contact Trading Standards. Citizens’ Advice has an online form to help you do this.
TS will then decide whether to investigate further based on the information you provide and help negotiate a settlement.
Even if not, the details can help if someone else complains about the same company.
It is also possible to take builders to small claims court if you have been left out. However, you run the risk of accumulating significant costs.
Although most home insurance policies will not cover construction work, it is worth confirming this with your provider.
And you should also, if possible, find out if your builder has liability insurance, which would also be helpful.