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Restoration & Refurbishment

What do i do about a cowboy builder

I bought a 4-bed house after going to view with builder. I detailed what i needed doing to get an idea of the cost as that would inform my offer price. He gave me a quote of £30,000 for a ground floor extension and renovation of the whole house. what needed doing upstairs was mainly plastering and repainting, adding an ensuite to the master bedroom and changing the switches and socket from cream colour to silver. the ground floor extension extended the kitchen and the living area and a demarcation was put to cut a space for playroom for the children. i wanted floor heating downstairs with wooden flooring and tiles in the kitchen which he said he would do. After giving the job to him, he asked for £10,000 to buy materials and to begin to prepare the house for the work required which i paid. after the work started, he mentioned he hadn't charged me for the beams to hold the structure of the house whilst the extension took place and kept asking for money at different intervals. I have ended up paying £58,000 for this job excluding the kitchen which he took me to Wren's kitchens to buy. That cost almost £9,000 (this was heavily discounted by about 65%. Within 2 weeks of moving in, the kitchen started breaking down.We are in October, 35% of the work is still yet to be done, there is no floor heating, he says its not possible with the type of wooden flooring he put in, and the tiles in the kitchen. The underfloor heating that was in part of the house was ripped off. The switches have not been changed, the painting is not done professionally, streaks everywhere, old switches and sockets have paints all over them, plastering was not done properly, ridges all over the walls and ceilings. Shelves not put up, bathroom has no toilet paper holder or towel rail, just sink, shower cubicle and toilet and many more. The builder says he has no money and insists he has completed the job. I have gotten to find out he is a cowboy and a lawyer by profession. I was pregnant, due in march 2017 and have a toddler under 2 years. I needed this work completed before i moved in because of the children as i didn't want them exposed dust, paint smells and other things on a building site. The builder said the work would take 10-12 weeks to finish and the house completed in January 2017. before completion, we had applied for extension permission from the council, sorted out architectural work so that upon completion and receiving the keys, the work would start immediately. I had to extend my rent twice and in June the landlord had another tenant and couldn't further extend my rent and i had to move into my house as a building site, my children have constant catarrh. Is there anything I can do to recover some money to get the rest of my work done by someone else? unfortunately i don't have a written contract with him as we had a lot of meetings and everything was agreed verbally but i have evidence of all the monies being transferred to his business account

7 Answers from MyBuilder Restoration & Refurb Specialists

Best Answer

Expose this cowboy and con man to fair trading standards and they will help you.
I did this a few years ago and the con man is doing a nice little stretch at Her Majesty's Hotel Of Pleasure


Answered 7th Nov 2017

Although you have evidence of payments you have no written contract of what you where paying for,you now have to get him to admit in writing what you paid for and what has been completed ,this is going to be your stumbling block as if you say he is an ex lawyer their is no way on this earth he will admit to anything in writing .
Unfortunally your only recourse will be legal action & if as you say he has no money not necessarily with a good out come for you,your best bet to start is to go your local cab office and speak to one of their adviser's
Good luck Alex


Answered 15th Oct 2017

Unfortunately this is a to common occurrence where by clients employ builders without first obtaining checkable references and also failing to draw up written contracts, so as a consequence you have limited your legal recourse. But all is not lost, there are proper procedures to follow now in order to allow your builder to correct his substandard work you claim.

Use the internet to obtain further information of procedure and if he still fails to respond then court action maybe the next step also notifying Trading Standards if you feel that you have a justifiable complaint. Considering the large amount of monies involved the small claims court only allow claims of up to £10,000 so this may not be to your advantage.


Answered 15th Oct 2017


I'm a landscaper by trade but come across these problems all the time. Legally you can take him to court if he is saying the work is complete and you prove it's not. The problem you will have unfortunately is if you have nothing in writing. It's very hard to prove the scope of works you employed him for and what was agreed for a price without a paper trail. It is something you need legal advice on really to be able to ascertain where you stand.


Answered 15th Oct 2017

I'm sorry about your strife. Just wanted to say that 30 grand for extension plus ensuite and kitchen fit plus re deck is no where near enough budget to make this happen. Materials alone all add up to many thousands. Then it becomes a case where the contractor is bound to make good everywhere but just wants out and loses his enthusiasm. He says it's done but you feel it's been rushed. Sadly many cowboys jump in at the deep end but cant swim or dont realise the strength of the current. Things often sound possible in theory but in reality things go wrong and take longer and this kills morale and creates bad air.


Answered 27th Oct 2019

Hi, notify trading standard again, try to contact the conman again and try to geg some sort of recorded evidence to pass on to authorities. This may help you to some extent. Hope it works out


Answered 10th Jan 2019

You should go to the citizens advice about this and expose him for what he is. Unfortunately with out a contract it’s going to be hard to get some of your money back and with him being a lawyer he would have known this.


Answered 9th Feb 2019

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