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Rogue Builder

(16 Posts)
Belinda49 Thu 22-Feb-18 17:09:11

My daughter employed a local builder living nearby with his wife and children, to build an extension. Daughter moved out as she had a toddler and was pregnant at the time. Paid him cash weekly on demand from her hard earned savings. When Building Inspector found none of the work was safe and ordered it to be stripped back and started again, builder ran off. (He comes back to visit his children). Seems he did the same with several other local families. Solicitor says nothing can be done. In the meantime toddler started nursery and my daughter became friendly with another mother not knowing she was the builder's wife. D was distraught when she found out. The builder has caused financial hardship to many and nervous breakdown to my daughter's partner who feels responsible for the mess as he should have checked and seen what was going on.
Surely the wife must have suspected what her husband was up to. The other mothers have no idea of the situation and think the mother is lovely, which really upsets my daughter. Worst problem is that the 2 toddlers start at the same school in September. Even now my daughter dreads meeting the woman every day and can't bear the thought that this will go on for years. She doesn't seem to understand the harm her husband has done and why my daughter is upset!! My daughter wants to move away but as finances are now very strapped it isn't possible.
For other Gransnetters who have read my previous recent posts, this explains why we have been so generous. Until now we didn't realise the amount of stress and guilt our SIL felt and this is partialy why his income has suffered. What a mess.

M0nica Thu 22-Feb-18 17:58:08

Belinda, I feel so sorry for all of you, especially your DD and family. I do not understand how someone can constantly let people down in their local area and then meet them and ignore the problem.

I think some people (male and female) just blank out the possibility and are in denial that a someone they love is behaving badly, whether in business or personal life. They accept and believe whatever story their loved one tells themand doubt the accuser. This builder's wife just doesn't want to admit that her husband has let down many people locally, including your daughter, so she just blanks it out. To be fair, she is not responsible for his bad work and he has left home.

I am not sure your solicitor is absolutely right to say you can do nothing and I would encourage you and your DD to talk to your both your local Trading Standards Office and the CAB (Citizens' Advice Bureau). This builder could be sued for breach of contract, even if there was no signed contract.

My DD had a problem with a contractor where she had a signed contract but had then agreed, verbally only, on extra works, when he proved incompetent and she told him to go, she spoke first to Trading Standards who told her that the fact that part of the contract was verbal was no bar to to him being held to account over poor work.

M0nica Thu 22-Feb-18 17:59:59

Just occurred to me I have read several court cases where a contractor was taken to court for breach of contract, which is the situation your DD is in.

Anniebach Thu 22-Feb-18 18:20:51

Do seek advice, did your daughter have a written quote for the work? Did she have receipts for the payments ?

Welshwife Thu 22-Feb-18 18:36:54

We had a chap engaged to build a garage - he did poor work but apart from that rarely turned up. We contacted the local Trading Standards and they were wonderful. They did in fact get us all the money back.
Which legal dept will give good advice too.

OldMeg Thu 22-Feb-18 18:37:47

I would urge people NOT to pay a builder until certain work has been signed off by the building inspector. Any honest builder will have an account with his local building supplies company.

Over the years we’ve had many extensions, refurbishments, repairs, etc. If it’s a large job we usually pay half the money when half the work is completed and signed off. With smaller jobs I’ve always paid after completion.

MissAdventure Thu 22-Feb-18 18:42:23

Its possible his wife doesn't know, I would think?
Unless she is a builder herself, how would she know that her mans work isn't up to scratch?

Luckygirl Thu 22-Feb-18 18:44:33

I am sorry your DD has had this experience, and has to live with the consequences. I am sure that OldMeg is right that not paying any money till inspections have taken place - a lesson for us all!

I also think that the safest way to choose a builder is by word of mouth recommendation, after which you can view the work if possible.

GillT57 Thu 22-Feb-18 18:46:54

Wise after the event OldMeg. This situation is not just about the atrocious behaviour of the builder, but about the tricky situation that the OP's DD finds herself in with the rogue builder's wife. Maybe Belinda49, if your DD likes the woman, thinks she is reasonable, just maybe she could tell her what happened? This is a really tricky situation, and I understand your DD's concerns about the long term implications with the children. Surely though, as this doesn't appear to be the first time this man has done this, his wife must know? Could your DD stand by and watch another friend and neighbour be ensnared and ripped off by this man? Golly, what a dilemma.

MissAdventure Thu 22-Feb-18 18:48:31

The wife isn't responsible though. Her ex husbands behaviour isn't her responsibility. What would she be able to do about it?

Cold Thu 22-Feb-18 19:11:11

Op says that the builder ran off. From the OP it sounds as though the builder and wife have separated and he only comes back for visitation with his children. I am not sure how his wife would be expected to know or be responsible for his behaviour. Unless she is a professional builder or accountant she would likely have no idea. If he "ran off" and left her with the kids it sounds as though she was also one of his victims.

If the builder has gone bankrupt/has no assets it may be difficult to recover money. Was he a member of a professional builders' association?

MissAdventure Thu 22-Feb-18 19:14:50

I can't understand why other people thinking the wife is lovely should be a problem.
Should they all turn against her?

varian Thu 22-Feb-18 19:36:12

If the builder and his wife are separated there should not be a problem socialising with the wife and children.

However there is a lesson to be learned here. Building work is very expensive and should never be undertaken without a written contract. If you do not want to employ an architect to administer a JCT Minor Works contract then there is a simple alternative - the Home Occupiers contract which the builder should sign before work starts on site. That way if he lets you down you should have legal redress.

Belinda49 Fri 02-Mar-18 21:17:59

GillT57, my daughter did confide in this woman and that is why she finally admitted she was the builder's wife. The builder registered the flat in his wife's name so he has no assets to be seized. My husband and I have two problems here. The first is that my daughter's partner is an RIBA registered architect and should have kept an eye on things but didn't and has now had a nervous breakdown as a result of 12 months of excessive stress over his neglect. She blames him and so do we. All their savings have gone which is why we have to help them financially. This is very bad for the partner's pride but we can't let the 2 toddlers starve. My daughter is freelance and works when work is available.
MissAdventure, I think it is only human nature that my daughter should feel resentment towards this lady. The builder was conning 6 families at the same time. Surely his wife must have wondered where the money was coming from. I suppose there's a vague possibility he planned to leave his wife and was hoarding the money. My daughter had introduced the person to her friends and now wishes she hadn't. They are aware of daughter's unfortunate situation but not that this person is in any way involved. I think it hurts daughter so she avoids coffee mornings and such like as she feels she can no longer be pleasant to this person. D has tried to delay her child's school start for a year but although very young the staff feel she is ready. Oh dear. What a mess.

Oopsadaisy12 Fri 02-Mar-18 21:57:24

I really think that your DD has to put this behind her, she was conned by a clever conman, she wasn’t the only one and if she really is unable to take him to court then it is all over and she has to move on, or she too will be ill.
Your SIL was also conned, they trusted a local man and were conned, it was the builders fault not theirs, they were very trusting and hopefully have learned their lesson.
As it was their savings that were used there should be no reason why your SIL cannot continue to provide for his family and when the children are at school your DD can work towards replacing the savings, so you can now stop subsidising them.
The wife of the builder isn’t going to go away, your DD must either forgive the wife for her estranged husbands actions and stay friendly, as she seems unable to avoid her or her children, or she must totally ignore her, tell her friends the reason for this and then move on and forget about her.
The saying is that’ anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’ and it really can’t be helping your SIL or DD to have this constant anger about something that has happened a year ago and can’t be undone, your job now is to help them to move on and put it behind them, too much sympathy now is preventing this.
If I were you I too would be very angry, but to keep on chewing this over really is unproductive.
Good Luck

Belinda49 Sun 04-Mar-18 08:27:33

Thank you Oopsadaisy12