Builder Swindles OAP out of £80,000
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Builder Swindles OAP out of £80,000

by Odyssium » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:18 pm

In this account names have been changed to avoid legal repercussions. However a version with real names is available.

After his wife's death in 2014 Mr Smith decided to build a loft extension to his terraced house so that Miss Smith, his daughter and carer, could live with him to more readily provide his care. After obtaining several quotes he decided to employ Big Bad Builders , as he was impressed by their competitive quote, and the many claims made on their slick website, most of which proved to be false.

August 2015; £500 deposit paid. Mr Smith was eager to get the build started, but Big Bad Builders kept on delaying the start date with various excuses.
11.05.16; The two planning application forms required, the Permitted Development Application and the Planning Development, were provided by Big Bad Builders, which were completed and returned to them, along with two cheques payable to Anytown Planning Department. As part of their promised service Big Bad Builders were to submit these forms, and deal with all issues involved with these applications.
13.07.16; A Party Wall Surveyor was engaged to complete a Party Wall Award for the build. Big Bad Builders provided architectural drawings for this purpose.
28.07.16; The Party Wall Award was completed. The Party Wall Surveyor sent us an email stating that he "was working to issue the Award last night but having looked at the drawings that you sent me with your e-mail of 26th June - these drawings are very bad - Apart from being 'scruffy' and unclear they lack key information and are contradictory. Most of the contradictions and omissions affect the other side however they are amongst the worst drawings that I have seen and if I were you I would be wary of your contractor if this is the standard of information that they produce." This alarmed Mr Smith, but he was repeatedly assured by Big Bad Builders that they knew what they were doing,that they had successfully completed many similar builds to this, and that these drawings were only drafts and that the complete drawings would follow soon. As Mr Smith was eager to proceed after the long delay and move his daughter in, and also as he feared losing his deposit and the surveyor's fee, he went ahead with Big Bad Builders.
Note that Big Bad Builder's website clearly states that they provide professional level architectural drawings.
04.08.16; An initial payment of £9500 was made. Big Bad Builders had promised to visit on this day and sign the contract, which they had emailed previously. However they made excuses, but insisted that they needed this payment immediately so that they could get the builders and scaffolders to start.
08.08.16; A contract was signed to build a two bedroom one shower room Mansard for £49950, payable in instalments agreed in the contract.
At this stage Mr Smith had not heard from the Planning Department, who said upon enquiry that they did not have his planning applications. However Big Bad Builders insisted that they had sent them in. But as the cheques provided with the applications had not cleared it seemed that the applications had not yet been submitted.
12.08.16; The planning applications were re-submitted by Miss Smith, with new cheques for their fees. She was also told that Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) forms were necessary, which she completed and submitted. Note that on their website Big Bad Builders state that they will personally handle all parts of the planning application process.
18.08.16; Miss Smith received an email from the Planning Department stating that the applications cannot be acknowledged or processed until additional information is received. The drawings needed to be resent with an accurate scale bar. Additionally the existing floor plan, and the sections and elevation plans for the proposal needed to be sent with an accurate scale bar. Big Bad Builders were asked to provide the required drawings.
She was also told that the CIL forms needed to be refilled and submitted using new forms that had recently replaced the old ones she had recently submitted.
30.08.16; Mr Smith received and email from Big Bad Builders advising us to "please refrain from discussing any financial aspects of the contract with any of our team and/or co-workers as this will void our contract". It also stated that we should "please remove anything of value from your property as we are not liable to replace or fix any items damaged or missing." These conditions were not in the contract, nor were they previously discussed. They contradict the Big Bad Builders website, which promises that customers can carry on their normal routine uninterrupted during works.
31.08.16; Work began. After a few days it became clear that Big Bad Builders had subcontracted the work to a separate firm, Little Builders Ltd. This is contrary to the claim on the Big Bad Builders website that all work is done by their own staff.
02.09.16; A second instalment of £9,500 paid.
Big Bad Builders insisted that the front roof would need replacing for structural reasons. £4,700 was paid for this job, which was badly done and left incomplete, eventually resulting in it having to be completely redone.
As the work progressed cracks were discovered in the party wall of the property. Big Bad Builders insisted that these cracks were evidence of structural weakness, and that remedial action had to be taken. They said that an assessment and calculations had been made by their structural engineer to show that strapping across the cracks and underpinning to the front of the house was essential to cope with the extra weight put on the structure by the loft extension. They quoted £10,000 for the strapping and £14,000 for the underpinning. They offered us a deal to include building an internal wall that we wanted, to divide the ground floor living space, as part of the £10,000 strapping job. They insisted that if we did not have these jobs done, then the whole structure of the house would be unstable and that they would have to stop the work. They also threatened that the 10 year guarantee they provided with their work, which is clearly listed on their website, would be cancelled if we did not agree to and pay for these jobs. As the job appeared to be progressing well, and as he felt pressured by Big Bad Builders threat to stop work, and as he was in a vulnerable position with the roof of the house open, Mr Smith agreed to this work.
Later inspection of the property by other builders, the Building Inspector, and a chartered surveyor never noted any of these purported structural weaknesses. Subsequently the full extension was built by another builder without any regard to these supposed faults.
The internal wall was never built.
Emails were received from the Planning Department repeating those sent on 18.08.16. These were all forwarded to Big Bad Builders so that they could deal directly with them, as they had promised.
05.09.16; It was noted that the builders were building a cheaper dormer structure rather than the mansard agreed and paid for. The expected parapet brick party wall was built with a cheaper stud timber construction. Only two steel beams were used, not the three agreed and paid for. They advised us that original fibre glass roof as stipulated in the contract was now not possible due to structural reasons, and that a felt roof would be used, again a cheaper option. We were advised that Spanish slates could not be used, and concrete tiles were to be used instead, again a cheaper option. Instead of the agreed timber stairs, MDF stairs were fitted, again a cheaper option.
Big Bad Builders have stated that these modifications were essential to reduce the weight of the extension because of the structural weaknesses they discovered. However, they appear to be just a cost cutting exercise, especially since the concrete tiles weigh no less than the Spanish slate, and the MDF stairs are actually heavier than the timber stairs.
06.09.16; It could be seen that Big Bad Builders had erected a sloping flat roof to the main loft room and a square dormer instead of a small mansard section where the bathroom would be situated. This was contrary to the drawings and the contractual agreement. Also noteworthy is the fact that this dormer build is cheaper than the agreed mansard section.
07.09.16; Big Bad Builder's main representative Johnny visited along with another man, whom they insisted was a qualified architect. This man reiterated, in the strongest possible terms, that in his expert opinion it was imperative that the strapping and underpinning be done before any further building work is done.
£10,000 paid for strapping and erection of internal wall in ground floor.
08.09.16; £14,000 paid for underpinning.
Over the next few days the strapping was done. However, the work seemed to be very little for the £10,000 price, just 16 pieces of thin metal strap screwed into the wall, and about one days labour for one labourer. We have spoken to and showed the strapping to several builders, including the labourer who completed the job, and they all confirm that we have been grossly overcharged for this work, and that materials and labour should come to no more than about £500. They also stated that the straps used were not suitable for this sort of job.
Meanwhile Mr Smith was surprised to see that the underpinning was not going ahead. When he asked Big Bad Builders about this, they said that it was best to finish the whole extension first and let its weight settle before doing the underpinning. However, this was in direct contradiction to their initial advice, which stressed the urgency of doing the underpinning immediately before any more weight was put on the house by further building of the extension.
No underpinning was ever done, and eventually the extension was fully finished without any need for underpinning. Mr Smith repeatedly asked Big Bad Builders to see their structural calculations for this work, and also provide the names and qualifications of the engineers responsible, but they never provided this information. Note that it clearly states on their website that they employ an in house team of fully qualified structural engineers.
11.09.08; Miss Smith completed and submitted the CIL forms, as Big Bad Builders seemed unwilling or unable to do this. She explained to the Planning Department that they should be receiving updated drawings directly from Big Bad Builders, as promised.
13.09.18; Miss Smith received an email from the Planning Department stating that there was still outstanding documentation required. She spoke to Big Bad Builders about this, who promised that they will sort it out directly with the Planning Department.
15.09.18; Big Bad Builders advised that the chimney flue in the loft, which had been exposed by the build, needed to be repaired, with some bricks replaced and three coats of render added, the last coat with hardener. It was advised that this work was essential otherwise there would be a health and safety issue with carbon monoxide escaping, and also the work was structurally necessary. £2,000 was paid for this work.
Only two coats of render were subsequently used. We were later advised that all of the chimney work would have cost no more than £300.
A third instalment of £9,500 was made for the main building work.
21.09.16; A fourth instalment of £9,500 was paid.
26.09.16; From this point Big Bad Builder's project manager ceased to supervise the work. The sub-contractors no longer attended with a full build team, usually sending over just one or two unsupervised labourers.
29.09.16; A fifth instalment of £9,500 was paid.
According to the contract, these payment instalments were to be made upon the commencement of various stages of the build. However Big Bad Builders commenced all stages more or less simultaneously, ignoring their own itinerary, and failing to have the stages checked off by the Building Inspector. They insisted on these payments, promising prompt completion of the job on their receipt, and threatening a termination of works if they were not made. Mr Smith was now in a very vulnerable position, with his home a mess and large sections of the roof wide open, which added further pressure to him.
Big Bad Builders sent an email stating that it was an amendment to our contract. It stated that we had requested to keep the subcontractors on our build, and that this request was a condition of our final instalment payment of £9500 on 28.09.16. It further stated that from henceforth the full responsibility of the build now rested between us and the subcontractors, Little Builders Ltd.
Mr Smith never did agree to or impose any of these conditions.
03.10.16; Miss Smith received an email from the Planning Department asking to resend all plans submitted for the application as there are no scale bars, and to send existing floor plans and sections and elevations, and to ensure the proposed drawings do not include the back edition. These emails were forwarded to Big Bad Builders.
06.10.16; Mr Smith received a detailed email from Big Bad Builders stating " Before we proceed with any further structural issues/work/s it's best to point out and address the following.
1. Your house is extremely structurally unstable due to very heavy existing subsidence mainly towards the frontal section.
2. Weakness and visible cracks are present in the main entrance/right wall which extends up into the attic from the foundation onwards.
3. Parts of the chimney breast within the attic had also come away near to the cracks in the attic mentioned in 4 and 5 below.
4. Weakness is present internally to the left wall near the chimney breast area which extends from the attic and probably down to the foundation below, this part of your house extends outwards from the neighbouring property numbered 144.
5. The parapet wall above your roof line is not straight as it should be, looking dead on from the front road/pavement there is an existing bend in the outer wall attached to number 144 as well.
6. Internally within the attic there is a crack to the left side (looking from road) of your house which is around two inches wide and staggers in around an inch which indicates very severe subsiding and historic/previous and ongoing damage.
7. The front bay window sill and render/plaster below it are also showing signs severe weakness and strain due to the large cracks which are probably due to subsidence issues.
8. The living room wall in the hallway does have ripples but these have not yet been investigated but are probably cracks as they are almost directly opposite the damaged wall within the party wall towards number 140.
9. Prior to work beginning a slight slope in the attic floor was also noted.
With the above in mind we have recommended and strongly advise fully underpinning the whole frontal section of your home from end to end and also inwards near to the chimney breast at the party wall to number 144 and inwards near to your staircase at the party wall to number 140, we would also recommend and strongly advise cross bracing the walls within your neighbouring homes to the left and right to fully resolve these structural issues properly.
You have been advised that most of the weight of the loft conversion rests within the party walls and mostly towards the areas that are structurally weak but you have opted not to let us proceed with all the recommended structural repair works that are required to satisfy the standards of structural safety needed and required to remedy the subsidence problems, we have however taken some steps and tried our best in redesigning the loft conversion to lighten the load on to your house by reducing the load bearing and overall weight where we can.
The structural repair works we are carrying out are at best a "quick fix" only and because we cannot remedy all the issues entirely and professionally and because of this we will in no way be held responsible or liable for any existing or ongoing subsidence issues or any further structural damage to your property during or after the work/s on your house.
We will require a letter from yourself that states clearly that you understand that your house has very severe and major structural damage and that you acknowledge all the points raised above and that you also understand that whilst carrying out the repairs to the underneath of the frontal bay section that any collapse or further damage to your house is at your own risk and is fully your responsibility and not ours as we have clearly advised you of the best solutions but we have not been instructed to implement them."
However in a face to face meeting a few days later, when Mr Smith suggested obtaining an independent survey to further investigate these alleged faults, Big Bad Builders said that there was actually no further structural danger and that the build could proceed safely without any of the remedial work they so urgently recommended. These issues were never mentioned again by Big Bad Builders. They were never mentioned by any of subsequent builders we engaged, the Building Inspector, or the expert witness chartered surveyor that we engaged.
10.10.16; Big Bad Builders advised us that the existing lighting arrangements in the rear room were inadequate, leaving the room without enough natural light. They insisted that we pay for an extra skylight to rectify this, at a cost of £1,000. Subsequently it proved that the skylight provided was unsuitable and failed Building Regulations, being a single skin while Building Regulations require at least a double skin.
Part of the contract was to fully soundproof the rear room. But Big Bad Builders advised us that the soundproofing offered would only be partially effective, and that for full soundproofing an extra £1,800 would be needed. Mr Smith again felt pressured because he wanted, and had expected, the room to be fully soundproofed, but once the walls and floors were completed it would be very difficult to insert this extra soundproofing.
Big Bad Builders sent a text asking Mr Smith to pay the £1,000 skylight price and £1,800 soundproofing price, total £2,800, by noon or they would reduce our bathroom allowance, as agreed in the contract, from £1,000 to £500. Miss Smith argued that this condition was unfair, so Big Bad Builders agreed to a meeting the next day.
11.10.16; During our meeting Big Bad Builders said that if we paid the £2,800 by 3.00pm then they would do some extra work for free. This would include strengthening the bathroom floor to take the extra weight of the bath, soundproofing the landing partition, and fitting heavy duty seals to the doors to add further soundproofing. Although Mr Smith felt that these jobs were all things that had been already promised and agreed to and paid for, again he felt pressured by the implicit threat to withdraw these jobs if the payment was not promptly made, so he paid the £2,800.
After this date the full build team ceased to come, with only occasional quick visits by individual or pairs of labourers to do small jobs. Some of their unsupervised work was worthless, such as installing celotex insulation in the sloping roof without the rafters or the velux windows being installed. The roof was inadequately covered, which allowed rain to enter and damage property and possessions, and rendered the house very cold and damp. The two badly installed skylights leaked heavily when it rained. There were no windows installed in the mansard or bathroom areas, which caused a nasty cold through draft to enter through the window openings and blow through the whole house. This was of great concern to Mr Smith, who is elderly and in poor health. At some risk he had to arrange and empty buckets to deal with the moisture, a dangerous task with the incomplete floor of exposed high joists and loose stairs, the top section of which was missing, leaving a big gap to jump over to gain access to the loft.
25.10.16; The planning application was withdrawn because of irregularities in the drawings provided, and Big Bad Builders failure to liaise with the planning office. Mr Smith was not made aware of this until some time later, because the Planning Department was now emailing Big Bad Builders directly, but it appeared that Big Bad Builders were not reading their emails.
14.11.16; During a long telephone conversation with Big Bad Builders regarding the planning applications Miss Smith asked whether they could come with her to visit the planning office and sort out the problems. Big Bad Builders refused to do this, stating that "We can't get involved as we aren't acting as agents on this, everything you need is online and visible". Again this is in complete contradiction to the promises clearly stated on the Big Bad Builders website, and verbally made to Mr Smith.
16.11.16; Miss Smith attended an appointment with the Planning Department, who explained that they did not received the additional material requested in time, so they withdrew the applications. She immediately completed and re-submitted the forms.
22.11.16; Miss Smith received an email from Big Bad Builders advising her to move her father out of the house "until at least the roof works, insulation install and staircase are completed to avoid any health or safety risk/s", and to ensure that the electrics were turned off every night. This email also stated that "We as you, want to be as human and helpful as possible and with that in mind I did offer an alternate solution yesterday to you over the phone and we have set aside an emergency fund to help you by up to 25% of the total cost/s towards getting the project complete by another contractor should the situation not improve. I want to make it clear that we do not have to do this and this solution is in place out of kindness knowing that Miss Smith couldn't predict what we tried our best to avoid." It is not exactly clear what these sentences mean, but they appear to be attempting to exonerate Big Bad Builders of the responsibility for the problems they have caused, and perhaps asking us for even more money.
The job was left in a state of less than half completion with large areas of the property unusable and many other parts crowded and messy with the storage of materials and tools. Big Bad Builders seemed incapable of getting the build team on site to complete the job, giving contradictory excuses, threats, and outright lies rather than the build and service that we have fully paid for. On many occasions promises were made that the builders would come the next day, only for them to simply not turn up, and repeatedly ignore all telephone calls to them. The house was cold and damp due to the poorly built structure with open sections of the roof and open window spaces, which caused great worry due to Mr Smith's age and poor health.
26.11.16; Big Bad Builders made and attempt to lay down the first layer of felt on the roof, which stopped some of the leakage but still was not fully effective, letting in water during heavier rainfall. The internal wood structures of the roof were permanently soaked, and as they never dried they began to rot and weaken. Upon later inspection the roof work was found to be of poor quality.
30.11.16; Miss Smith received an email from the Planning Department stating that the application was invalid, because the “drawings should include existing and proposed floor plans.  Side, front and rear elevations and sections with an accurate scale bar”. This was forwarded to Big Bad Builders.
06.12.16; After many emails between Miss Smith and the Planning Department it was clear that they still had not received the required material from Big Bad Builders. Again these were forwarded to Big Bad Builders.
Mr Smith sent Big Bad Builders an email asking them to provide the following,
- Full receipts for all payments made for this build.
- A full breakdown of all costs, materials purchased, expenses incurred and all other financial
matters involved with this build, so that it is clear on what our payments have been
specifically spent on.
- A copy of all the valid architectural drawings for this build.
- The full name and qualifications of the architect used by you for this build.
- A full copy of all the structural calculations used for this build.
- The full name and qualifications of the structural engineer used by you for this build.
- The full business name and address of Little Builders Ltd, who are being used by
yourselves to do our build.
- A completion date for this build, which has had many protracted and stressful delays so far.
A further email was sent pointing out the contradictions between Big Bad Builders' website and the service provided. It stated,
"you claim that " We have specialist teams who build the finest Loft Rooms and they work only for us. We do not use anyone apart from our own teams who have been trained and are fully qualified to build any type of Loft Conversion in Anytown." However, after you commenced our build it became clear that the team of builders used by you were in fact from a completely different company whom you had subcontracted, who had never worked for you before, and who had never been trained for you in any way. We have talked to all the builders involved and they have all confirmed this point.
You claim than "Our Loft Conversion Specialists can construct your new Loft Conversion within just a few weeks and with minimum disruption." You also claim that "Our process of building Loft Conversions in Anytown is unique our teams work without making much mess and they minimise any type of disruption. You can carry on with your daily routines without worrying about anything at all whilst your new Loft Conversion is being made." However, our job has lasted nearly four months and is still only half complete, and has caused us major disruption and stress, especially the many weeks where the roof was left open, allowing rain to enter and damage our property and causing much coldness and drafts throughout our property, and forcing us, at some personal risk, to attempt to seal the roof ourselves. You have also advised all residents to vacate the premises during the duration of the build, which again contradicts this claim.
You claim that "You will also be able to get on with other things as we handle every piece of paperwork and visit to the council for you." However, on your advice and instructions, we have had to make several visits to the council ourselves regarding this build, as well as deal with emails from the council.
You claim that "We are strict with our staff and always make sure that everything is built to perfection and has a quality finish." However, the protracted delays and the lack of communications between yourselves and your builders seem to show that you have little control over the behaviour of your staff, at least on our project.
You claim that "We prioritise Safety and Regulations like no other company in Anytown. " However, leaving the roof open to the elements, and also leaving the stairs to the attic dangerously half fitted, would seem to contradict this claim.
You claim that "Project Managers & Building Consultants deal with every part of your project and also communicate with your local council to make sure that everything is perfect." However, your insistence on us communicating directly with the sub-contracted team of builders, and your seeming inability to control them, clearly contradicts this.
I would welcome your comments on these above points.
I am left wondering whether your website is in breach of advertising standards, and may even involve a breach of contract or some other legal infraction, as we chose your building company partially based on the information stated on your website. Should we not address these points soon, we may take professional legal advice on these points, and upon this advice we may take legal action."
07.12.16; Big Bad Builders sent us an email replying to our previous two emails, in which they seem to blame us for the delays, again alleging that Mr Smith somehow amended the contract to work directly with the sub-contractors, but still insisting that Big Bad Builders were handling our payments. They allege that Mr Smith and Miss Smith have void the contract by discussing the financial aspects of the build with the workers. The email states that "the architectural drawings and structural calculations were offered without any cost but if you wish to be put in contact with our architects directly then we will charge for all drawings and calculations that are being used on your works the cost amounts to £4,500 please let us know if we should add this on". This contradicts the contract which clearly states that architectural drawings and structural calculations are included in the price.
Big Bad Builders failed to answer or address most of the points in our emails.
08.12.16; Big Bad Builders called and asked if Mr Smith could help them out by giving £2,000 to the sub-contractors. They were reminded that this build had been paid for in full, and no further payments would be made.
09.12.16; On this day and on several previous occasions Big Bad Builders left Miss Smith with a large amount of cash, instructing her to check off the sub-contractor's work at the end of the day, and if all the jobs had been done to give them the cash. Miss Smith felt very uncomfortable with this unprofessional arrangement, as it effectively turned her into the project manager.
11.12.16; Mr Smith and Miss Smith sent an email to Big Bad Builders stating
"We are extremely frustrated and annoyed that our build is not now completed, especially due to your repeated claims that once the build commenced it would be completed in a matter of weeks.
We are especially concerned for the health and wellbeing of Mr Smith, who is elderly and frail and who needs full time live in care, which was the main purpose of this build.
We are lead to question the veracity of your claims that the protracted delays to this build are not your fault, and that you have paid your subcontractors in full for our build. These claims are seemingly contradicted by you repeatedly leaving us with cash sums to pay your builders upon completion of various parts of our job, and your statement by 'phone on 09.12.16 of a further itinerary of works from and payments due to the subcontractors.
Of course, the fact that you are using subcontractors in the first place represents a clear breach of promise, so any problems you have with them are fully your responsibility. We may contact Trading Standards regarding this, and other related issues.
We remind you that we have paid for this build in full, and that we believe that you are in breach of contract by not completing our build in a reasonable time.
We note that you have not replied to numerous points made in previous emails. We are therefore forced to draw our own conclusions to these issues, and may take legal advice on them.
We do not wish to take legal action, but if we feel that no other alternative is available to us, we will. Such a path may also result in much negative publicity for your company across the internet and other media."
No reply to this email was ever received.
03.01.17; In a phone conversation Big Bad Builders stated that the work would only recommence if they received a formal request to do so. When told that such a request was redundant as we were still under the original contract, Big Bad Builders insisted that this contract was null and void and that we had somehow re-contracted with the subcontractors, and that we would have to formally re-contract with Big Bad Builders for them to "step back in" and complete the work. As Mr Smith felt vulnerable and bullied, he sent Big Bad Builders an email, in which he stated,
"thank you for your conversation today 03.01.17. We are sorry to have taken so much of your precious time.
During this conversation, we requested that you give us the full legal name of Johnny, your agent with whom we have had almost exclusive contact, and also the names and contacts of the owners and directors of your company. You repeatedly refused this information. We feel that such a request is reasonable, especially as you have taken so much of our money without delivering the services and goods paid for. Should this information not be forthcoming very soon we will view this matter with suspicion.
You also asked us that we formally request that you finish our job, or you will abandon it. We do not fully understand this condition that you have suddenly sprung on us. We believe that we have a binding legal contract with you, and we have fully fulfilled our side of this contract, and we are now waiting for you to fulfil your side by completing our build. We expect this to be done expeditiously because of the protracted delays and the vulnerability of Mr Smith, who urgently needs the full time care that is only possible by the completion of this build. Therefore, we feel that such a request is redundant. However, to keep you happy we will give you the formal request that you require. Here it is;
We, Mr Smith and Miss Smith, formally request that you, Big Bad Builders, complete our build, for which we have paid you in full.
We now hope and indeed expect that you will recommence our build on 05.01.17 as promised, and we trust that you will finish our build to a high quality very soon. Should this not happen, and we are delayed with false promises and excuses as we have been, we will have no alternative but to take further action. We have several avenues of further action that we can take, all of which are fully lawful, both in criminal and civil law. These courses of action will surely bring much damage and loss to Big Bad Builders. However, as you are surely aware, we do not wish to use our money, time and energy on such endeavours, and we sincerely hope that you will give us all that we have paid for without further delay, and that we can move in to our completed extension and relax and put this trouble behind us."
Despite this and several similar requests, Big Bad Builders would not provide any information as to the full name of their main representative, whom we only knew as "Johnny", or the names of their directors.
04.01.17; An email was received from Big Bad Builders which again attempted to absolve them of responsibility. It stated,
"We asked that you respond fairly and in a straight forward manner stating that;
1. You are fully aware that forcefully keeping the team on against our advice was a complete mistake on your part.
2. That you would now like us to take over from this point onwards and see to it that extra and above what was agreed prior is to be paid to your builders/contractors as they have been informed of the full value of the works and are in turn demanding more money for your works to be completed.
You have threatened in writing to defame and slander us which, as you know contradicts the real and true reason that has lead us to deal with your project in a manner that we clearly tried to avoid, meaning that we could not place a more reliable and trustworthy team into place because of your actions and not ours, thus leading us to this request.
Until you are straight forward with us and about this situation as a whole and respond accordingly we will not move on this project and will leave you to deal with the team that you have requested/demanded to keep as already outlined in our letter dated 28/9/16 and further outlined in our meeting on 5/10/16.
At this moment it makes more sense for us for us to utilise funds into potential legal costs and clear our company of any made up or wrongful actions, false accusations or any present or future attacks of slander and defamation instead of paying the builder/contractor in question any further or extra payments that they are now demanding due to being made aware of the value of the works and details of payments made, by yourselves."
09.01.17; Miss Smith received an email from the Planning Department pointing out inconsistencies in the drawings received, and asking for amended drawings. This was forwarded to Big Bad Builders.
A full build team arrived and re-started work.
10.01.17; Further email from the Planning Department regarding inconsistencies in the provided drawings and information, which were forwarded to Big Bad Builders.
11.01.17; The Planning Department granted planning permission for the build. However this was only for the Planning Development part of the application, not the Permitted Development Application.
13.01.17; The sub-contractors informed us that they were abandoning the job because Big Bad Builders were refusing to pay them for the previous weeks work.
14.01.17; The sub-contractors unexpectedly arrived, stating that they were removing their tools, and also the loose building materials we had and which we had paid Big Bad Builders for. Also they threatened to take the fitted tiles and other materials already installed in the build. As they were loading the loose material in their van Miss Smith telephoned Big Bad Builders, who bluntly stated that they were not responsible for this situation. The sub-contractors then stated that they would not abandon the job and would bring back the materials already taken, and continue with the build, if they received an immediate payment of £3,000. As Mr Smith was extremely worried about the roof being exposed again, and the build stagnating as had happened during the previous two months, he paid, under duress, this sum directly to the sub-contractors.
15.01.17; Some more work was done, but still the roof was not sealed properly, resulting in further leaking and property damage.
16.01.17; The sub-contractors did not arrive as promised. They said that they would not work unless they were directly paid another £2,000. This was not paid.
21.01.17; Miss Smith and her friends did a thorough inspection of the house. A number of items were found to be missing, such a Mr Smith's tools, bottles of wine, and a valuable antique board game. Neither Big Bad Builders or the sub-contractors could account for these disappearances. The house was left in an appalling mess. Our neighbours complained of loose tiles and debris dangerously flying off our roof and landing in their gardens. At great labour they cleaned up the house, during which they encountered several extremely dangerous exposed live electrical wires, which accounted for the many electrical blow outs the house had undergone during these works.
23.01.17; The subcontractors arrived to collect their tools, although they left their scaffolding up. All communications with Big Bad Builders were now proving useless. They repeatedly set up meetings, only to cancel at the last minute.
24.01.17; Miss Smith met with the building inspector, who was appalled at the standard of the incomplete work. He noted several serious defects with the work already done, which would need to be corrected before any of the stages were passed. Miss Smith telephoned the Planning Department enquiring about the Permitted Development Application. She was advised that this application was not needed for the build, the Planning Development being adequate. The Permitted Development Application was superfluous, as it covered exactly the same issues as the Planning Development Application. She was advised to withdraw this application in writing, which she did. It appears that Big Bad Builders gave us the wrong advice in requiring us to fill in the extra application. Because of this Mr Smith wasted £86 on the fee for the unnecessary application.
Note that Big Bad Builders did not stamp mark their company on the drawings as is common procedure with architects/engineers etc.
Similarities were noticed between the drawings and the architectural drawings done for a similar roof extension completed some years prior for our neighbours property, a house which is identical design to ours. Certain features from the drawings for our neighbour seem to be erroneously present in Big Bad Builders's drawings. Note that all these copyrighted drawings can be viewed at the Anytown's Planning website.
During the build Big Bad Builders deviated significantly from their drawings.
About this time Big Bad Builders completely ceased from communicating with us.
31.03.17; The subcontractor's scaffolders arrived at the house unannounced, when there was no-one at home. Our neighbour witnessed them breaking through the back gate. Without permission they entered the property and took down the scaffolding. During this unlawful action they dumped builders rubble over the property, and damaged the back alleyway door. They cracked a window pane in the first floor back box room, which needs replacing.
27.04.17; A letter offering Big Bad Builders a chance to return and complete the build, or to refund all monies paid to them, or face possible legal action, was sent by recorded delivery to Big Bad Builders, to the address on their website, but this was returned unopened and undelivered, with a note saying that they were not known at this address. The same letter was sent via email, but was unanswered.
01.07.17; Mr Smith employed two builders to cover the roof and stop the numerous leaks that were still open. These leaks were causing damage to the whole loft area and to the first floor ceiling. Temporary measures were employed, including tarpaulin and expanding foam. This cost £500.
03.01.18; Building Inspector Mr Jones from Anytown Borough Council Building Control visited the property, along with a new builder, Mr Jenkins. Together they listed the following issues with the build;

the stairs have been wrongly measured and badly fitted; the top of the stairs is lower than the loft floor. The bottom winder treads (first 3 steps) are too narrow to safely step onto. The stairs will have to be altered. The ceiling of the 1st floor had not been properly supported.
The easiest solution is to replace and widen the stairs at the bottom, which involves moving the whole door and frame of the 1st floor bedroom adjacent to the bottom of the stairs approximately a foot to the right to accommodate the new stairway. If this is not possible or impractical then the whole stairway will need to be replaced.
The loft level stairwell/stairs were left without double trimmer supports. These will have to be completed. The skylight above the stairs is a single skin, whereas Building Regulations state it must be at least a double skin. It is badly installed with no supports. There are no double trimmers around the window and no space left to insert them. This window will have to be replaced with a new one in a proper position with double trimmers.
This is wrongly and badly constructed. It is sloping and set too low, there is no roof
insulation (warm roof) and no firings attached. There are numerous gaps in the roof’s timber joins. Details such as the joins and noggins are way off centre, resulting in a structurally weak roof.
Externally the roof was left unfinished with strips of felt randomly laid and gaps that leaked water into the loft. This will have to be stripped and redone properly with the 3 layer felt system.
The roof section over the main loft room, landing/stairwell and bathroom will have to be lifted up and levelled, with a warm roof installed and extra joists inserted to strengthen it.
The parapet wall on the right hand side party wall adjoining number 140 has been built up in timber stud and should have been built in brick. This will have to be dismantled and a brick wall built.
We paid in full for a new front roof (sloping roof + gable) to be done. This was left incomplete and badly constructed with many missing tiles, no lead work and missing valleys. The waterproof membrane used was badly ripped and torn. The roof will have to be stripped of tiles and redone.
The roof did not have the doubled up rafters/struts to support the weight and allow for the 2mm gap insulation. There were no openings for or the doubling up of the timber frames for the two velux windows.
The ridge beam had been fixed and inserted into the chimney flue, which is against building regulations as it’s a fire hazard. There were no metal strappings/bracings fixed to the beam to tie and support the front sloping roof and new flat roof. There was no vertical metal post to support the ridge beam. A new floor beam will have to be inserted to support the new post.
A new beam (catnic lintel) will have to be inserted under the bathroom window to support the new floor beam.
There were no joist hangers to support any of the inserted floor joists throughout the loft. These will have to be added.
Existing stud work timber structure walls have to be altered. The doorway to the mansard is in the wrong place and not constructed properly.
Because the roof was installed sloping downwards from the ridge beam, the ceilings are not high enough to put in the three internal doorways/doors. The roof will have to be lifted up and levelled to create the correct height. Extra timbers will be added and trebled to gain height.
The timber stud work dividing the main loft room and mansard have no bracings or brackets attached to the brickwork.
Below the bathroom window opening, the chipboard was insufficient and needs to be built up in brick work.
The floor is a considerable step down from the main loft area and will need to be raised to the same level as the rest of the floors.
The walls and roof were built without a structurally sound frame and will have to be dismantled and rebuilt. As above there was no warm roof insulation installed.
The roof tiles need to be removed because they have been badly installed with no lead work or proper finishing. The slope of the roof was too acute with an illogical design whereby no guttering could properly be fitted. The tiles will have to be removed and re-tiled after the main structure has been dismantled and rebuilt.
The skylight is a single skin and baldly installed with no double trimmers and gaps. It will have to be removed and replaced with a triple skin to comply with Building Regulations.
The incomplete work done was a meagre attempt at the first fix. Bad quality pipes and fittings were loosely laid under the floor and not connected. No waste pipe was installed. These will have to be removed, replaced and properly laid.
Random cut off wires were threaded through holes in the roof beams. None were leading anywhere. The wires are useless and will be need to be removed and the whole wiring checked upon an electricians recommendations.

Miss Smith and Mr Smith inspected other areas of the house and found the following,

Because of the protracted length of time that the roof was open and leaking water had pooled above the ceiling, weakening it and running down the walls. Because of a lack of guttering the outside of the walls were permanently damp, causing a smell of damp and mould, and visible fungus spores, inside the room. A new ceiling will need to be installed and plastered.
The ceiling has been damaged by the builders stepping on it from above. The coving the edges of the room has been worked loose by heavy handed and careless work
above. From the leaking roof damp has soiled the walls and floor, damaging some of contents. This was caused by a badly fitted front roof only half complete with no lead
work or covered valleys, and a badly fitted, torn waterproof membrane. Mr Smith
had tried to minimise this damage by placing buckets to collect the leaks. A new ceiling will need to be installed and plastered.

29.01.18; Mr Smith obtained an Expert Witness Report by Anytown Surveying, Consulting Structural Engineers and Chartered Building Surveyors. This report cost £990.
This report states;

At the time of inspection, the loft works were incomplete. There are major
issues with the way the loft has been built, with the ridge beam not strapped
or braced into the roof, also the rear section of roof has not been properly
supported over the rear section of the property and a cranked beam or
alternative support is required as this current roof is unstable
Extensive remedial works and finishing off works are required and this is
discussed in the report.
Externally, the slates on the mansard have been badly installed, these are
held in place with Tri-Roll screws and the underfelt and leadwork around the
perimeter of these have not been particularly well installed. The external
slates and flat roof coverings require completely stripping off and redoing as it
will not be cost-effective to try and salvage these as around the perimeter of
this roof, these have not been properly weathered in and to replace the
leadwork and soakers around the roof will be more expensive than stripping
off the roof and re-covering it.
The flat sections of roof have been partly weathered with a mixture of
tarpaulin and felt that have not been properly bonded down and these should
be completely stripped off and reformed.
I have listed out the extent of remedial works that are required in this report,
but to summarise, structural works are required to strengthen the roof
conversion and then the first fix electric and plumbing need checking and
finishing prior to the loft being finished off internally.
The roof has been converted to form rooms in the roof and the mansard roof
to the rear of the property has been built.
The structure does not seem to comply with the drawings and a sloped
section of roof has been installed above the main section of the room, built up
off the top of a ridge beam. It appears the roof should have been built at a
higher level and built flat with firing pieces added to the top of this roof joist
rather than adding roof joists at an angle. To put this right, you will need to
redo the roofs and reset the level of the ridge beam.
The loft floor has been strengthened and a steel beam has been installed
across the front of the property and timber floor joists installed, with loose laid
chipboard flooring on top of these and insulation has been added between the joists.
Where visible, the majority of the loft floor seems to be sound.
Around the ridge beam, there is no strapping or bracing between the roof
structure and the beam and this requires reconfiguring to make sure the ridge
beam is tied into the roof.
The new roof does not seem to have been built in accordance with the
drawings. There is a sloped roof above the main section of loft, the drawings
show this flat, this means the head height at the rear section of the loft is
approximately 150mm lower than it should be, to put this right will require
stripping off the roof and to do this, it is likely you will need to completely
rebuild the dormers, the only thing that would be salvaged is the loft floor.
The right hand party wall as viewed from the right hand side of the property,
the property has been built up to serve the new roof, this has been built up in
timber stud wall. I understand from the drawings, this should have been built
up in brickwork and I recommend this is changed.
The flat roofs have been built too low and not in accordance with the drawings
and these should be replaced.
The stud walls around the dormers will not be supported when the roof is
removed and it is likely you will re-support these, modify them and rebuild
them to a higher height when the roof was modified, and this will involve
completely rebuilding the dormers and flat roofs.
The loft floor has been strengthened in both the rear section of the property
and the main building and a beam has been installed across the front of the
property to support the roof and the floor. This generally seems to be sound.
The chipboard flooring has not been finished and the rear section of the floor
has not been insulated and this requires completing.
Around the rear section of the property, the lower level wall has been built up
in a mixture of solid masonry with brickwork externally and blockwork
internally set between timber studwork, this is a poor detail. There is a timber
plate on top of this, which is off-centre of the wall, which supports the roof and
it is likely you will rebuild this or at the very least remove the timbers and
reconfigure the timberwork on top of this.
The ridge beam extends from the party wall and set into the chimney and the
left hand party wall as viewed from the front of the property, this should not be
set into the chimney and I recommend this beam is reconfigured and
supported by a post and the floor strengthened underneath this.
A very rough budget cost to redo the flat sections of the rear roof, rebuild the
dormers and reconfigure the steelwork, including building up the party wall in
blockwork and modifying the first fix would be in the region of around
£23,000.00 (not including internal fit-out or second fix), this is just to redo the
work that has already done, but doing it correctly. This also includes installing
a warm flat roof system over the dormers and redoing the tile hanging
externally and re-covering the front roof, not including second fix or lining
internally with plasterboard.
The loft floor around the head of the stairs has not been completed and there
are timber strimmers still in place, this requires finishing off of the floor, a
rough cost to do this would be in the region of around £1,000.00.
The front roof requires re-covering, this has been felt and battened, but the
tiles have not been fully reinstated and this should be re-covered.
Roof lights are required to the front elevation, this will require doubling up of
the timbers around the roof lights and installing the roof lights.
Where the roof has been removed for an extended period of time, extensive
water ingress has occurred to the rear of the property and also above the front room.
At the time of inspection, dampness was found in the rear ceiling in the rear room
and the ceiling would benefit from upgrading.
The front room has also been damaged and the ceiling has been patch
repaired and this should be repaired and made good and redecorated.
A very rough budget cost to replace the ceiling at the rear of the property and
make good the front room ceiling would be in the region of around £1,300.
Crack Repair
There appears to be a crack running down through the party wall adjacent to
where the steel in the floor goes to the front of the property, this has been
filled and made good with metal straps and these can be partially seen within
the roof void.
The first fix electrical wiring seems to be nearly complete, this should be
checked by an electrician. The cabling is in place for the light circuits and for
the power sockets, I recommend the entire system is checked by an
There is pipework visible serving the radiators, these are only loose laid pipes
to serve the radiators, these should be checked and pressure tested by a
plumber, there is also pipework that has been installed to serve the bathroom,
again, this should be checked by a plumber.
The stair winders are very narrow and the level at the top of the stairs is
around 10mm lower than the finished floor level, potentially the floor could be
modified to suit this level or alternatively, the staircase replaced.
due to the composition of the subsoil.

£500 - deposit
£9,500 x 5 = 47,500 - contracted installment payments (work left incomplete, and work done mostly substandard and needing to be redone)
£10,000 - strapping (an unnecessary job, work done grossly overcharged)
£14,000 - underpinning (never done)
£2,000 - chimney flue treatment (partially completed and grossly overcharged)
£1,000 - skylight (useless because does not fulfil Building Regulations)
£1,800 - soundproofing (never delivered)
£3,000 - money to subcontractors ( work paid for never done)
£86 - unecessary extra planning permission fee
£500 - temporary roof protection
£990 - expert witness report
Total = £81,376

Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:08 pm

Re: Builder Swindles OAP out of £80,000

by doorwins » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:29 pm

whatt?? that is a crazy one, but thanks for the share and helping others with your story


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