Builder’s victim has to pay out once more
A DISABLED woman is having to part with the last of her nest egg after breaking ties with her builder as other customers and contractors come forward twith claims of unpaid bills and work unfinished.
Last month the Adver reported that Jackie Cook, 58, of Bellver, who has muscular dystrophy, was left unable to enter her house after shelling out £23,000 to Mark Smart, of Stratton Builders, for work which she says was unacceptable or left incomplete.
Now she has had to use the last of her savings to get the job finished by pulling in some favours from contractors who say they were also left out of pocket by Mr Smart.
“We have had to pay out again to get the work finished, and it is moving along slowly,” Jackie said.
“We are scraping the money together to get a new kitchen fitted, and the conservatory has been ordered.
“One of the contractors Mr Smart hired to begin with is coming to install it with no charge and the plumber came back and finished the bathroom as a favour.
“It has probably cost me £3,000 on top of what I have paid already to get materials, and we have got to pay about £4,000 to get the kitchen fitted. “We had a little bit left for old age and we are going to have to use it now. “It has already cost £2,500 to get the driveway sorted.”
Trading Standards are now submitting Jackie’s claims to Mr Smart.
“If he disputes our claims then it will have to go to court.” she said.
Simon Edgington, one of the contractors hired by Mr Smart in the past, is stepping in to build the conservatory for Jackie.
“I used to do all his glass work, such as double glazing,” he said. “I have known him for a while and he has never let me down in the past, but lately I ordered frames for three different jobs which came to a total of £2,587.49.
“His excuse was that he could not pay me at the moment because he had not been stopping the tax on some of his contractors. “I owe the money to another company, and that is just to cover the materials. I am going to be left with that cost, and I do not have that kind of money.
“I got in touch with another customer who I got a set of French doors for. He has taken money up front from her and not paid it out, so I am refusing to install the doors until he releases the money.”
The customer has been promised a full refund by Mr Smart, which is expected to arrive next week.
“I am not making any money on the work for Jackie, it was the least I could do,” said Simon. “The conservatory has been ordered and should be in this week.
“The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because I thought he was a friend. I have had to make arrangements to pay the money back to the company, Dekko, and they have been very good about it.
“I offered to install the doors because I still have them if she had the money, but Trading Standards told me that would be a breach of contract.
Another of Mr Smart’s contractors, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I am a contractor who employed his services on the basis of his assurances of being an experienced contractor. “Having had him on site for a few days it was very noticeable that he did not have the skills or organisation to do the work.
“I should have not paid him so much up front, and I was burnt for approximately £2,000.
“I was also concerned that as a professional contractor of long standing he didn't have a Unique Taxpayer Reference Mumber.”
The Adver was unable to reach Mr Smart for comment at the time of going to press.
Trading Standards have advised people to consult their list of approved builders via their Buy With Confidence scheme before they begin any work, as their traders are vetted and monitored to ensure quality of service. To order a list phone 01793 466155, or to check online visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.
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