ELDERLY couple Ken and Pat Hill will be at the centre of a national television programme next week, which will expose the six-figure losses they incurred at the hands of a cowboy builder.
Ken, 71, and Pat, 66, will star in an episode of Channel 5’s Cowboy Builders, as the victims of shoddy work done by a tradesman at their home in Windrush Road, Haydon Wick.
Work began in September 2012, after the Hills bought the property, with the aim of updating the bungalow and making it more accessible for Ken, who has Parkinson’s Disease.
The builder, who was not available when the Adver approached him, promised to have the work done by Christmas 2012, but failed to meet the target.
A succession of time extensions and requests for extra finance from the couple followed until July 2013, when the tradesman walked off site, after an attempt by Nathan Hill, Ken and Pat’s son, to solve the issues.
The couple, whose only income is a modest pension, said they had spent £143,000 on getting the work done initially, taken out a £23,000 loan to put the work right and spent another £10,000 in paying for temporary accommodation.
“At one point we didn’t think Ken was going to make it,” said Pat. “He was seriously ill in the middle of the whole thing.
“I wished I was dead at one stage. I just couldn’t cope any more. I sat up in bed last May and just cried about the whole thing. I had to ask my sons for help.”
The couple said belongings were damaged, asbestos improperly disposed of, the driveway poorly laid and the roof left exposed to the elements.
The programme set out to put things right. In November, work to make the house safe was carried out, although the couple did not move back into their home until February 17 of this year.
A 60-metre crane blocked the road during the renovation process, as a summer house was lifted into the back garden.
“We hope people can now see why that crane was here and why it blocked the road. It was here to help us with this show and help us get our lives back together,” said Pat.
Cowboy Builders has a tight budget of its own and only a short turnaround time for each property it assists, meaning a complete renovation was not carried out, though the Hills have nothing but praise for the way the show’s makers helped them.
“They were in here working until 1am to do as much as they could to put the house right,” said Nathan, 43. “I was in the lounge with Gabrielle Blackman, picking away at plaster until midnight, and she’s the presenter. So it shows how much they tried to do for my parents here.”
The programme will air next Thursday on Channel 5 at 8pm, with presenter Dom Littlewood set to come face to face with the builder.