A MUM who spent £3,500 on a new conservatory is fuming after claiming a dodgy builder left it wonky and dumped piles of rubbish in her garden.
Rebecca Jordan, from Redditch, Worcs., blasted the builder for leaving her garden looking like a "bomb had hit it" and said she had been left in tears.
The single mum says she has spent nights crying after forking out the money, despite an initial £2,000 being agreed.
And Rebecca's neighbours have also allegedly complained at building materials left outside her home.
The mum-of-one says she has reported the builder to Worcestershire Trading Standards, reports Birmingham Live.
However, officials said it did not fall under their jurisdiction and Rebecca would have to take the builder to a civil court to get her money back.
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Rebecca, who has a 17-year-old son with special needs, said: "I’ve spent a week crying over it as that was hard-earned money. A professional I've have had in since said it all needs taking down, which would cost more than I've spent already.
"It was supposed to make my garden look nicer for my son, but my garden looks like a bomb’s hit it.”
The mum bought a second-hand conservatory three years ago but couldn't find a builder to get it up.
And the builder responded when she put out a Facebook message this year asking if anyone could do the job,.
Rebecca claimed they agreed on an initial price of £2,000 to put up the conservatory at her two-bedroomed home in early August.
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She says that the builder asked her for the money in three stages with an initial £800 upfront.
However, Rebecca claims the handyman then increased the previously agreed prices.
Within two days, the mum alleges that he asked for another £900, followed by £600.
Weeks after that, Rebecca claimed she was asked to hand over more payments for "urgent supplies" from new glass panels to fast-setting adhesive.
He started work on August 12 but Rebecca claims she ended up paying out a total of £3,532 before he stopped working on the unfinished conservatory around September 9.
Since then, Rebecca claims calls and messages to the builder have gone unanswered until September 29.
At this point she says he had agreed to meet her at a coffee shop on October 1, but didn't turn up.
Rebecca claimed: “He turned up for the first few days on time but then started making excuses to leave early or saying he needed more money for supplies.
"Then there were sob stories about his dad being ill or his dad’s roof leaking.
“One time he even phoned to say he’d had a big session the night before and couldn’t make it, which got me thinking things weren’t right. Then he stopped coming altogether."
The mum added: “I’m quite a savvy person but also very trusting person. He told me it would take a week but it's been three months now. Citizen’s Advice gave me a template letter to send him but the email just bounces back."
The builder – who is not being named for legal reasons – said he had offered to remedy any issues, including removing any left over materials.
He said: "I offered to go around and fix it and give her about £600 back for materials. I'm not giving her money back for the work I've done."
In terms of any building materials left behind, the builder said: "It's not fly tipping, just materials left behind and it will be cleared up by early next week.
"I've done my best…. I'm going to take this to court."
Councillor Marcus Hart from Worcestershire County Council said: “In this case… the major issues related to breaches of the consumers civil rights, Trading Standards were unable to intervene.
"Local authority Trading Standards services have no powers to require traders to put work right or refund money. This must be done by the consumer, working through the civil courts if they cannot get redress any other way.
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"Whether you need small building or gardening work carried out by a reputable trader, Trading Standards advice to homeowners is to ask people you know for recommendations, and to check relevant Trade Associations for members."
A GoFundMe page to support Rebecca and her son has been set up here.
What to do if you fall foul of a dodgy builder
- Under the Consumer Rights Act, anyone who enters a contract for goods and services can expect these to be supplied with reasonable care and skill – and this includes builders, plumbers, decorators and electricians.
- It also includes materials, which should be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose.
- If you've fallen victim to a builder, or had a dispute with your contractors, you should firstly collate all evidence you have, including paperwork, photos, videos, messages and bank statements.
- Then, try to resolve the issues directly with the firm, before trying an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme such as mediation or ombudsman services.
- If this doesn't work, contact your bank to find out whether you can recover any money spent using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (if the job cost between £100 and £30,000, your credit card company is jointly liable if something goes wrong).
- If this doesn't work, report them to the police on 101.
- While the lines between what is criminal and just bad practice are blurred, a contractor could be done for 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 it doesn't, the details may help if anyone else complains about the same firm.
- It is also possible to take builders to a small claims court if you have been left out of pocket. However, you run the risk of racking up significant costs.
- While most home insurance policies don't cover building work, it is worth confirming this with your provider.
- And you should also, if possible, find out whether your builder holds liability insurance, which would also help.
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