Weʼre raising £30,000 to help reimburse money from destroyed property due to cowboy builder
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When I purchased my property, I was so excited. It was a renovation project, but I thought if I had a decent builder who could manage it I wouldn't have to worry about having to micro-manage it myself. Bad move! Back in December 2016, I realised that the builder I had hired 3 months previously to do the work didn't have a clue what he was doing. He had been recommended, but he and his team knew far less than they said they did. They damaged areas of my property, including hammer dents in the walls that weren't there before, breaking a window and pretending it wasn't them, poor plastering, installing a new kitchen which wasn't level that they unevenly cut the worktops, destroying new cabinets and hanging them so badly that you could pull the cupboards off the walls with one hand, tiling the bathroom so badly that it started to crack the moment it was dry because they didn't put the correct width of plywood underneath, and that was just the start. It was a health and safety hazard. They even created a leak which went through to my downstairs neighbour's property into his closet.
I had a breakdown over Christmas 2016 and had no idea what I was going to do. I found out that his liability insurance didn't cover poor workmanship - instead it only covered accidents and injury to his own workmen. Though I tried to talk to him about it, HE threatened legal action. My only option was to set about finding another team to strip out all of their shoddy work and re-renovate. I had to manage them all myself to make sure the same thing didn't happen twice which meant moving out of my home for a significant amount of time to be closer to the project.
My property should have been completed and ready to move into by the beginning of January, but finding a new team meant wasn't finished until June 2017, 6 months after the original completion date. It cost me an additional £30,000 to re-renovate and fix all of the cowboy builder's damage. The new workmen couldn't believe what he'd done. They said it was the worst they'd ever seen it, and gave me witness statements to that effect.
I notified the police, but they said it had to be proven to be intentional for them to arrest him.
Though I took the rogue builder through Mediation to try to settle outside of court, initially he said there was nothing wrong with his work, until he was provided the witness statements, at which point he said he didn't have any money to give even though I'd heard through the grapevine he'd been on 2 holidays with his wife.
Taking him to court with a lawyer will cost thousands more, and if I represent myself and go through small claims court, I would only be able to get a maximum of £10,000 back, assuming he has it to give and hasn't moved the money somewhere else. The other option would be a slow drip of money for years to come in order to try to get some of it back.
I thought I could get some of the monetary loss back if I sold the property and offset the costs against taxes, but apparently you have to have lived in a property for 6 months prior to renovation, so this also isn't an option since I started renovating the moment I purchased it, and it wasn't lived in.
A lot has happened since then, and my only resource today is to appeal for help. It's been a hard pill to swallow, but it's taught me some very difficult lessons about the housing and construction industry and how badly regulated it is. Sadly, the people who should be prosecuted, and the innocent buyer is left stranded. All I can say for anyone out there who is thinking of doing the same thing, is to make sure you manage your workmen, ensure they are HIGHLY recommended and make sure the property you buy is somewhere you can easily visit daily (which mine wasn't) in order to see the progress in the light of day every day. Also, never pay them weekly invoices which is what I was doing and have been told I never should have done. I trusted him, and I've learned my lesson. Looking back there were so many alarm bells, but being new at this, I didn't realise until it was too late.
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Sarah Neri started crowdfunding