Series following tradesmen and looking at cowboy contractors. Tommy Walsh gives some much-needed advice to Daryl and Jo, whose builder took their £50,000 inheritance.
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When a crisis strikes your home...
-How can I help?
-'I've got a bit of an emergency.'
..or you want major work done...
It was our dream.
It is a total mess.
..you need one of the good guys,
but you don't always get them.
I've never seen anything like this.
Potentially, I stand to lose the house.
We'll hear the stories of devastation and despair
left behind when building work doesn't go to plan.
He didn't put the foundations all the way around
-so the front bit didn't have any foundation.
And we'll tell you how to avoid becoming a victim yourself.
Did you have a comparison price?
But most tradesmen are there to help and we'll follow the response teams
who are there for you 24 hours a day...
Eventually the ceiling would've come down in the kitchen.
..seven days a week.
It ain't everyone's cup of tea but most people are pleased to see you.
From plumbers to roofers, electricians to locksmiths,
we meet the men and women who help you out in your hour of need.
Coming up - that's not the whiff of success
these top rugby lads are smelling... It's the drains.
It's not mine! Honest.
But can Carl win the day in time for top team Sale
to carry on training?
We've got a job to do, it's dirty, somebody's got to do it.
Plus, even something as simple as a blocked sink
can cause kitchen chaos.
I told my wife not to use the sink and she didn't but she used
the washing machine and she found the sink was about to flood.
And this couple wanted a complete house renovation,
but they were left with a construction site
when the builder legged it with their 50 grand.
-This is our bedroom, Tommy.
-How do you live like this?
Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase
any of us ever make.
We employ a lot of professionals to help us with that,
including estate agents, surveyors and solicitors.
It's an investment for the future.
So if you're going to make major changes
to your most important asset,
you need to take the same professional approach.
I'm on my way to see driving instructor Darryl Gray
and his wife, Jo, who learned this way too late.
The couple, from Wiltshire,
have been left living in a dangerous building site after an unskilled,
unscrupulous builder disappeared with £53,000 of their money.
The couple and their teenage son are living in appalling conditions.
The house is just a shell.
It's not secure, it's letting in water and it's unsafe.
The builder, well, he's nowhere to be seen.
So, we've actually accepted that we've lost the money now
-which was a big, big leap for us.
I feel very sorry that he thinks this is a good way to behave.
That this is an appropriate way to treat people.
Darryl and Jo have lived in their cottage for 20 years.
A year ago, they decided they wanted to modernise.
The money come from Jo's mum.
It was money left to her.
She passed away a few years ago.
We wanted to honour her in the best way we possibly could and we knew
that she had always hoped we would do something better with the house.
You know, let it shine more.
The idea of getting major renovation work,
plus an extension and loft conversion done, was spurred on
by seeing building work happening at the house next door.
We were watching next door being refurbished
and we spoke to the guy that bought next door
and he had had no problems, as such, with the builder.
The work looked good cos we went in and checked.
It just seemed the right way to go at that time.
The man they hired told them he would take care
of the planning applications, building control and paperwork.
There was no reason to distrust him in any way.
He seemed to know what he was talking about. You were reassured.
Speaking to next door, he didn't seem to have any concerns.
Turns out he's been let down by the same builder now, as well.
He said he could get the job done in eight to ten weeks.
And that included a single-storey extension, an attic conversion,
a sunroom plus block paving for the front garden and rear driveway.
On top of that, he would renovate the house,
moving the bathroom upstairs and changing the general layout.
And all that in less than three months?
This is a major challenge and at least six month's work in my book.
The couple decided to go ahead with their plans
and made regular payments by standing order,
continuing to do so even when work wasn't being completed.
They were staged payments over the period of the eight weeks.
For the first five weeks, things seem to happen.
Walls were knocked down, wiring ripped out,
ceilings came down and the extension was started.
But, then, alarm bells started ringing.
He were turning up, sort of,
halfway through the day, staying a couple of hours, disappearing.
No materials were coming into the property.
And once the final payment was made, that's when it really just
almost seemed to grind to a halt completely.
The situation started to put a strain on the couple's relationship.
I've struggled with some health issues
because I have found keeping the family together really very tiring
indeed because there's been such a range of emotions.
It's not nice to see your family fall apart.
Left in utter chaos, with supports to hold up the upper floor,
the couple eventually called in the council's building control surveyor
to look at the work.
They've been very fair
and I think that's taken a lot of pressure off
because I believe that when they come into the building,
if they'd have thought it was unsafe they would have said something.
Sean Seager from Wiltshire Council was not impressed with what he saw.
-You haven't got enough headroom to seriously convert.
And he advised the couple to drop the idea of the loft conversion
as it wasn't even suitable for the property.
If I'd had come out six months ago
and looked at it I could have said then, it's not really feasible.
If he'd have got us involved early on
we could have solved a lot of these issues.
Sean has more than 30 years' experience in building control
and he has some good news for the couple.
It is rectifiable, we haven't gone beyond the stage
where you need major structural alterations to be carried out.
I wouldn't want to live for this long in the state they've been living in.
And it's just basically shoddy workmanship.
I've come to Wiltshire to have a look at the chaos left behind
when Darryl and Jo's builder legged it and cut off all communication with the couple.
-Hi, Darryl, is it?
-It is, yeah.
-Come on in.
'I just don't know how this family are managing to live in this house.
'But we can just about find somewhere to sit and chat.
'I'm keen to know if the builder went about things the right way
'at the beginning. Did they have planning permission, for instance?'
The planning permission he didn't put in
-until about a month after he'd started the work.
So we were given an order to start pulling down the work
that he'd already done and we talked directly to the architect
the second time, reapplied a new set of drawings.
She was fine with the second set of drawings.
So, let me ask you, how did he come to the figure of 54,000?
Well, he... I guess it's his trade,
he did his calculations and this is what he come back with.
-But he didn't give you a breakdown of costings?
-He didn't, no.
-Did you ask him for one?
-Um. We did ask him for one.
Every time we approached him, you know, it's all, "It's coming,
-"it's coming, it's coming."
-Did you not...
..get a sense of foreboding over what was going to happen?
We did get a sense that something wasn't quite right at that point.
It is rather strange...
that such a large amount of money
and such a major project is done on a promise.
We were under the belief that because we paid directly
from our bank, the bank would have some kind of protection in there.
Trusting, I suppose we were.
Where you've paid him all this money
where were you, do you think, percentage-wise
down the road of completion for the job?
We were in the demolished stage.
So you'll probably be 15% into the build.
What did he say to you when you said to him, "Well, hold on a minute.
"Let me just stop you one second.
"You've had all the money, 98% of it, why ain't it done?"
Yeah, that was one excuse after the other.
Why does this always happen to such nice people?
This trickster left the couple without any services over Christmas
and New Year to boot.
I'm shocked that anyone would leave you without heating,
water and electricity through the winter months.
The stress must have been phenomenal.
-It got a bit heated for a while.
-Did you get angry?
Yeah, I went through a stage of quite a bit of anger, to be honest.
But it doesn't seem to make any difference to him, you know...
Well, it can't do because he's got the money.
If you'd have owed him £30,000 or £40,000 this would be finished
because he knows he wouldn't get that other bit of money
until it had finished.
'This is something I keep banging on about.
'But it's so important.'
I always say to people, never pay a deposit.
If they say it's for materials, say,
"Tell me the materials that you need and I'll buy them."
-So then that means at least you own materials.
They should be able to work for two or three weeks without
getting paid until a substantial amount of work's been done
and you can see the quality and that you're happy with it.
Then you make them a payment but you always make sure that the money
you are giving them is less than the work that they've done.
And there should always be at least one third left of the pot money
when the job's finished and everything is done
to your satisfaction, every bit of snagging, the last bit.
If they say, "Well, I'll come back in a week's time,"
say, "Well, that's when you'll get paid."
'I know I'm going on a bit but Darryl and Jo are going to have
'to go through this whole process again with another builder.
'I'm desperate to stop them making the same mistakes.
'Now, I want to have a closer look at this callous conman's work.'
So, I think we should take the opportunity to run round
the house, so to speak.
'Later, this work is shocking. In more ways than one.'
-This is dangerous.
-It's not a shock,
you could get killed easily.
Drain specialist Carl has been called out to the training ground
of high-profile premier-league rugby club Sale Sharks
to tackle a particularly unpleasant job.
The team has a big game coming up in three days' time.
They need Carl to solve their problem in record time
or their training schedule will be badly affected.
So what we've got to do is to try and remove the grease
and the fat from the drains using high-pressure water.
A lot of people just don't understand, er...
the concept of the drains in that they just think,
"Oh, yeah, it's a drain and we can throw anything down there."
The blockage means players with injuries can't have ice baths
and their backroom team can't wash and prepare their kit for the match.
If it isn't sorted, they'll have to find another training facility
by the end of the day.
Kit manager Alan realised there was a problem yesterday afternoon.
The water from the washing machines just wasn't draining away.
There was obviously quite some considerable blockage
and we spent most of yesterday with brushes, once washes were on,
just trying to circulate the water round,
round the corner of the building to get it to drain away artificially.
Carl is well equipped to deal with the job.
His specialist tanker is fitted out with high-pressure water jetters
and a mega vacuum unit for clearing drains and sewers.
But first, he has to park it.
Just watching my mate there who's guiding me in.
Something so big trying to get it into little spaces.
Right, we're there now.
Carl and his workmate start by pulling up the drain hatches
outside the club building which houses the changing rooms
as well as the kitchens where the team's food is prepared.
Yeah, there it is. Your baby wipes and your grease and things like that.
The players, some of them international stars,
are just getting ready for a crucial training session.
They're playing Harlequins in three days' time
and they need to be match-fit.
We're a Premiership club in the top league in rugby union
in this country, so it's vitally important that we have everything
But can Carl and his team solve the club's foul problem?
They're actual baby wipes.
Don't disintegrate, so...
Sam, can we start setting up suction, please?
Good grief, who knew all these macho rugby lads
use so many baby wipes?
A lot of people would just walk away
from this at the moment, just walk off from it
and just turn round and say, "No, thanks very much
"but I don't want to see that."
But, as I say, it's not mine.
The drain is blocked with a mix of sewage, wet wipes,
grease and other debris.
Carl's going to have to try
and suck it out with the high-powered vacuum.
It's a nasty job.
Trying to get all the solids out of it at the moment...
..off the top.
I just got a lungful.
The overwhelming smell is not scoring well with the players.
They can't stand the smell, can they? So if you see them
when they come out now,
they're all covering their noses and things like that.
It's not mine, honest.
Grown men whingeing about a bit of a smell.
We've got a job to do, it's dirty, somebody's got to do it.
The rugby club call-out is to one of approximately
200,000 sewer blockages throughout the UK every year.
75% are caused by fat, oil and grease from commercial
and domestic premises.
The best solution is not to pour it down the sink
in the first place, but you can also get fat-busting gels and liquids
containing naturally occurring bacteria which help break it down.
Failing that, you need to call in these boys.
It's not proving an easy task,
but Carl has worked out the main cause of this blockage.
There's that much grease and fat in there,
so instead of having a four-inch drain,
it's reducing it down to about an inch to an inch and a half,
because it's all solidified round the outside of it. So...
Obviously, we're clearing that now...
From the reduction to get the reduction back up to the four inch.
Carl and the boys scrum down and get stuck in.
It's a game of two halves.
Having sucked out much of the blockage with a vacuum,
now they need to wash away the remaining debris with a hose.
They're making good progress,
but Carl and the lads still need to make sure everything is
clear before they can kick this job into touch.
As you can see, we've restored this back to its original condition.
That was just part of the problem.
The main problem is the grease and fat actually within the drain itself.
But once we've got these two manholes clean,
we can start jetting the lines in.
Everything's got to go back into the building, back to the main...
Back to the sinks.
One more big effort and, an hour after they started, it's game over.
That'll be fine, that, mate.
That's job done.
We call it the sweet smell of success when it comes through.
Jobs a good'un.
Next, breakfast. Yay!
Now all they have to do is pack up.
For Carl, it's been a winning job.
We're done now, mate.
Cheers, Carl, thanks a lot for all the work you've done.
It was a bit of an emergency to get here so quickly,
due to the fact that the...
Give it another day or so, they would've had to close the club down
and move on to somewhere else because they wouldn't have been able to use
any of the facilities whatsoever.
Carl and the lads are top of the league with kit man Alan.
They've done a brilliant job over just
a couple of hours in flushing everything through,
clearing it all up, so, touch wood now, we're going to be set fair
for at least another 12 months from anything major like that.
I'm with driving instructor Darryl
and his wife Jo at their home in Wiltshire.
Well, I say home but, frankly, it's little more than
a construction site after a dodgy builder began renovation work
and then made off with £53,000 of their money.
They've lived like this for nearly a year,
desperately trying to save enough to start putting some of it right.
Darryl's showing me around.
-Nothing's finished, is it?
-Look at the electrics, though!
-Oh, look at the plumbing! And that's the hot-water feed?
Does it work upstairs?
We have a radiator that's lukewarm upstairs
and we have a fairly warm one downstairs.
But it's pretty shocking.
-So this is the kitchen, Tommy.
-Let me just...
I can't stand running taps.
It's got a bit of a drip there, Tommy.
A bit of a drip. That's hot water.
That's going to cost you an absolute fortune.
You need to get a plumber in straight away to fix that.
-We should do that.
-Because that's just throwing money down the drain.
You're going to have a fair old job with the electrics.
Things like, you know, where downlights are supposed to...
I wouldn't... I don't really like you touching them
because they might be live, you know what I mean? This is dangerous.
It's not a shock, you could get killed easily.
And there was some flooding here, was there?
Yeah, I mean, this floor was very wet, you know?
At times almost ankle-deep, so over the Christmas period
this was all water just coming into the...
into the kitchen.
'I'm almost speechless. How could anyone leave a family in this state?
'I'm dreading what I'll find upstairs.'
(Oh! Good grief.)
You need to have some storage outside of the house.
You've got to clear all this,
so you've got to clear everything and then this can be assessed
and appraised and the elements can be finished.
You just can't work in places like this, it just doesn't happen.
-So what is this room?
-This is our bedroom, Tommy.
Oh, you can't be doing that. How do you live like this?
You've got to live some way.
I mean, how long have you been living like this?
This has been like this for about nine months now.
It's just, there's so much.
You can't have damp coming in and you're sleeping with it.
You know, the one saving grace you've got is no door, at least,
-so the air flows round.
Their bedroom is a nightmare
-but it's pretty bad for teenager Charlie too.
-This is Charlie's room.
Probably one of the more up-together rooms.
"Up-together" you call this?
-In comparison, yeah.
Well, I wouldn't say this was very up-together.
-I do like this form of...
Yeah, that's nice, it keeps the bed nice and warm.
What does Charlie think of it when he's here?
Well, Charlie's finding it increasingly more difficult,
especially with the GCSEs coming up.
It is added pressure that you probably don't need.
Well, he hasn't really got a lot of personal space, has he?
-He's not, this is the main problem.
-For doing what he...
Because you've got all this gear in here.
'I could cry for this couple. I bet they have. Who wouldn't?'
You've got your work cut out, Jo, that's for sure.
There's a lot of stuff upstairs that needs to be moved into storage
so you clear the whole floor.
Is there any money left to pay for the rest of the work?
Yes, there is a small amount of money left
that will go towards the work.
I know you're both people of faith, so finding a contractor,
try through the church.
And I'm glad that you haven't lost all your faith in...
I have great admiration for you keeping your spirits up
and I just really hope that this works out for you.
-I wish you luck.
They really have suffered enough but they mustn't repeat their mistakes.
Well, what I've just witnessed is an absolute lesson in how not
to take on a building project.
OK, they've made mistakes, plenty of them, but what about the builder?
The depths of winter, there's no water, there's no electric,
and there's no heating.
There's only one word to describe that - diabolical.
There are plenty of good guys about when you have a home crisis
as this dad in South London is about to find out.
He's got a problem we've all experienced -
a clogged up kitchen sink.
It's causing more issues than normal because the washing machine
and the dishwasher all feed into the same pipe.
These sorts of appliances use high volumes of water
and if there is a blockage further down the pipes,
it can all come back up your sink and overflow.
Dad of two, Nico, is spending his day off waiting for the plumber
after his wife nearly flooded out their kitchen.
Luckily for him, a drainage engineer is already on his way.
Nico and his family have lived in their house for a year.
I'm Argentinian, my wife is Dutch...
and my children are British,
Leon who is four and Emilio who's two.
So it's, yeah, a very international family.
But it's dad who has to deal with today's kitchen-sink drama.
I noticed two days ago that the sink was very, very slow running.
I told my wife not to use the sink and she didn't,
but she used the washing machine.
And she found that the sink was about to flood, so that's
when we decided it was time to call somebody to do the job.
The man responding to his call, who can hopefully save the day, is John.
-Hi, nice to meet you.
-John, nice to meet you.
-How are you doing? All right?
Come in, this way.
Nico fills him in on the problem.
When we use the appliances, er, washing machine and...
-When they're on the water comes up.
-Which I thought was a bit weird.
When the water comes up it almost floods the whole kitchen.
Right, OK, fine.
Okey doke, well, I'll service the pipework mechanically with
a spring and hopefully that'll do the trick.
I'm going to pop to the van and get some bits and pieces
and I'll be right back.
-Great. Thank you very much.
John has a few thoughts about what's giving Nico that sinking feeling.
It could be a pipe-configuration issue,
so it could be the way the pipes have been put in,
but we'll clean them all out and get them to how they should be
and then we'll test it again.
If they're still blocked or still not running correctly then
we might have to change some of the way the pipework's been
put in but we should find out in about five or ten minutes.
He collects his tools for the job and gets cracking.
Nico is keen to see what the solution is.
This is the sewer snake, so it's basically about 30 feet of wire
mounted into a steel drum and we feed that down the waste pipe
and it mechanically cleans the inside of it.
This is great gadget stuff and homeowner Nico is intrigued.
So that goes through all the way?
Well, it's difficult to know if it's gone all of the way
but it's certainly gone at least three or four metres down.
What's the reason for the water coming up from the appliances?
Both the dishwasher and washing machine
-and the sink, they all go into the same wastepipe.
So because the wastepipe somewhere is blocked,
the lowest point or the easiest point for the water to come out
is to rise up in the kitchen sink.
So we need to, obviously, clear the blockage
and then that will stop that from happening cos then the water will
-discharge into the drain.
-It will go the way it should go.
If you have a blocked sink, try using a plunger in case food waste
has become trapped in a U-bend.
The downward pressure causes the blockage to break up
and the upward suction causes the material to resurface.
But often the clog is located elsewhere in the pipes
and that's when you need someone like John with his specialist tools.
To make sure the pipes are totally clear, John uses the plunger
and then fills the sink to see how quickly it will drain.
Does it normally drain like that or is it normally a little bit slower?
-I think it was slower than that.
We'll keep that running and then what I'll do is,
-we'll put the washing machine on.
John empties the washing machine.
-Victory is ours.
Oh, fantastic, no, that's... done the job.
But Nico's keen to stop the problem from reoccurring.
So it gets blocked because of, what?
-Soap and grease and all that?
-Yeah, food, oil...
-Oil, oil is bad.
Obviously, you've got a dishwasher as well,
so just make sure you try and scrape the plates as well.
Dishwashers are a great modern convenience,
but don't leave food waste on the plates when you stack them
and don't rinse it down the sink either - bin it.
Leftover food can get trapped in the U-bend and cause a blockage.
It can also get trapped in the dishwasher pipe and block that.
So the advice is always -
stop and think, not down the sink.
The final test is a sink full of water and, bingo, that works too.
-It's got a pretty good swirl on it.
-That would take...
-You know, it would take at least two, three minutes.
Brilliant, that seems to have done the trick, happy with that.
Great, thank you very much. Yes, perfect, thank you.
John's pleased with the outcome.
The customer's happy with the way the sink's draining.
When you put the washing machine on, it doesn't now come back
into the sink and overflow, so, yeah, all good.
And so is Nico.
John said that it might be blocked, but it might be a question
of the drains not having been properly installed,
so, thankfully, I think he managed to do the job without doing
any of that, so he just unblocked the pipework
and it seems to be working very well, so I'm very pleased.
We've tried to track down Darryl and Jo's builder,
but he's done a total vanishing act and changed all his numbers.
Jo's gone to stay with family to get a break from the stress
and the couple have taken my advice
to find new tradesmen through their church.
They hope to start work soon to put things right.
And Sale Rugby Club's training continued unhindered by any
further problems with their drains.
They played Harlequins that weekend and won 16-12.
Tommy Walsh gives some much-needed advice to Daryl and Jo, whose builder took their £50,000 inheritance meant for doing up their home. Fourteen months on, they've been left living in a shell of a home, with dangerous electrics, holes in walls and no sign of their contractor.
The jetters get stuck in at a top rugby club when the drains block, leaving foul-smelling sewage seeping onto the grounds.