Episode 11 Cowboy Trap


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Episode 11

Clive Holland has advice for homeowners who have fallen victim to cowboy builders. Clive is in Lowestoft, Suffolk to meet neighbours who were both stung by the same cowboy builder.


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Cowboy builders and rogue traders

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cost UK homeowners tens of millions of pounds every year

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and it seems to me

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that they just keep getting away with it.

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We spent £3,000

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on a pile of...rubbish really.

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I've travelled thousands of miles up and down the country

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and I've been appalled at the level of bad building practice

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that's been going on.

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I'd call them thieves

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because they didn't do their job.

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We called them in three or four times but because we're old,

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they sort of went, "We don't care."

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Our team of experts are on hand to right the wrongs

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and offer a glimmer of hope

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to those that have been tricked by these conmen.

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Oh, great, that's super.

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Today we are in the most easterly town in the UK, Lowestoft.

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Home to some huge wind turbines

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and some homeowners whose hard-earned cash has been blown away

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by a cowboy builder.

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Dianne and Tony Lightfoot dreamed of a cosy conservatory they could relax in during their retirement.

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Dianne loves sitting in the sun.

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We were going to have chairs out and sit out there and dream.

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But their dreams became a washout as soon as the rain came.

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I said, "When are you coming to finish?"

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He said, "It is finished." I said, "It's not."

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"Water's still pouring in." He said, "We've gone bust."

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And Sara and Bob Fitzpatrick desperately wanted to update their old draughty windows.

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Windows were old and they were cold.

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So, we decided to have the windows done.

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But their new windows were worse.

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They were draughty AND let in the damp.

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When it started raining,

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it started leaking.

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All the wallpaper was damp and just leaking through.

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These two couples live right next door to each other

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and, would you believe it,

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they're both victims of the same bodge-job builder.

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The story begins with the Lightfoots.

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Dianne and Tony live here in their Lowestoft home, along with Monty the parrot.

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Five years ago, they decided to make some modernisations,

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starting with linking an outside toilet to the main house.

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We needed a downstairs toilet.

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But once the toilet had been finished we then required some means of

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getting out there without having to take an umbrella during the winter.

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So, we decided it would be nice to have a conservatory to join the house to the outbuilding.

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Dianne and Tony decided to dip into their savings for a dream conservatory.

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Now, they needed a builder.

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-We saw this big advert, it was quite advert about four or five inches by three.

-Father and son.

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They gave an address on there and that's something that I tend to look for - an address.

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I would never ask anyone to come and do a job if it was just

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a mobile number.

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I like to know who they were and where they lived.

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Now, I don't go into their past, I don't look into their past.

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I just think that if they're working then they must be honest.

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It's naive I suppose.

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The Lightfoots hired the builders and work got off to a good start.

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When they came here they seemed such nice people.

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They really did seem nice people.

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The father, who ran the business, he was an elderly man.

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But he was a bruiser, wasn't he?

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He was quite a bruiser, yeah.

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But they were so pleasant to us, they were very pleasant.

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Everything seemed... Everything seemed genuine about them.

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Before they knew it the Lightfoots had their dream conservatory.

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On the day they finished we were absolutely thrilled because it was the beginning of the summer time.

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We had an opening day don't forget for all the neighbours to come and see the good work.

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"Do you want to come and see it?" And we had no problems.

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The sun was on - it was lovely.

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You could get the chairs out and sit in the sun then, couldn't you?

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But when the sun stopped shining the warm glow soon disappeared.

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Soon as it rained, "Isn't rain coming through there?"

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It was just a drip, drip, drip,

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like that. And I'm wondering where's this coming from.

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It came right over the middle of the door, it would just start to pour in

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and that would really come heaving down all the time.

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You go out to the toilet you'd get wet.

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-You'd get all wet just going out through the door.

-We saw the fungus growing, didn't we?

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Yeah. The wall was turning green.

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The paint was coming off the wall. It got worse and worse.

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Follow my top tip to avoid ending up in the same soppy mess.

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If you have building work done during the dry summer months and

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you want to be sure it's water tight

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for when the winter weather comes, use this simple trick.

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Do a soak test with a hose or watering can so you can be sure

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all the seals are watertight before you pay the final bill.

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Tony and Dianne handed over £4,370 of their precious retirement

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savings before they discovered their roof didn't even have them covered.

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This case is a conservatory calamity. As far as I am concerned this trader was simply clueless.

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Rather than giving them dry access to their downstairs toilet, Tony and Dianne got an unwanted wet room.

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DOORBELL RINGS

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-Time to check out the shoddy work for myself. Tony?

-Yes.

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Hi, I'm Clive from Cowboy Trap.

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-Hello, sir.

-Now, I hear you've had problems with cowboy builders. Do you mind showing me around?

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No, not at all, you've very welcome.

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Thank you, sir.

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-Ahh, into the light, Tony.

-Yes, into the daylight.

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OK, so this is where the, ooh, OK. I can your problems.

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How long ago was it when it was put up?

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-Five years.

-There's obviously water ingress.

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Looking here though, Tony, this plastic extrusion here,

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I can't understand why they haven't actually mitred the joints.

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All they've done is they've cut the plastic extrusion, butted it

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together and then just put some mastic down it. It looks horrible.

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It does yes.

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It's not good.

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And, of course, we've got moisture coming in here, and lots of it by the look of it.

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Big lumps of green hanging out this here. That just all crashed down.

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OK, you've got all the green mould spores that are growing. You'll get more of that.

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-Of course, yeah.

-So, it definitely will travel through.

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It certainly will.

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That has got to be addressed.

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How long has that been leaking?

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-Well, this was put up in the summer.

-Yeah.

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We knew nothing about any leaks or anything until the winter came.

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So, in that very winter you had it installed.

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-The first year we had drips coming down here, just in this area here.

-OK.

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So, we had to put newspapers down here and that gradually worked its way along the side of the building.

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'Five years of constant leaking has made a mouldy mess of this conservatory.

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'I need to take a closer look at where the problem lies.'

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Let's have a look. That's a mess.

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Look at that, a bit of flash band that doesn't look like it's been put on properly.

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The problem with flash band as well, if you try and put it on existing damp surfaces it will not stick.

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-Of course not.

-It just doesn't have the longevity of a properly fitted lead flashing.

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There's load of mastic in there, loads and loads.

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The lead flashing, I can see the lead flashing underneath but it is

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too short and it hasn't been bonded back into the mortar deep enough.

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I think I have seen enough here, Tony.

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'This conservatory hasn't been sealed correctly and that's why it's left the walls in this mouldy,

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'soggy state, worse still with Dianne and Tony's savings spent

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'they've been unable to fix it for five years.'

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We've always tried to do best by other people yet we haven't been done the best by ourselves.

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And I think that's where it comes.

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-It hurts, yeah.

-You would never dream of letting anybody down

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and yet these sort of guys wouldn't think twice.

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-I often think they'd even let their own parents down if they were doing a job for them.

-Absolutely.

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Cos they haven't got a clue about doing the work properly.

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You've not been well, both of you

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-and that adds to it.

-Yes, it adds to the stress there's no doubt about that.

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How did that make you feel when you realised that these guys have let you down?

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Dreadful, dreadful.

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Made me cry.

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We were done and...

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-that's all we can do about it.

-But, of course,

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we are here to help you to move on, move forward and put things right for you.

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What could we do to help?

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What could we do to help you?

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-To stop the rain coming in there.

-You want us to stop that happening and put right the wrongs.

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-Yeah.

-We want to lift that bit of a stress and put a smile back on your face.

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-I'm charged with that job of getting that sorted.

-It's very kind.

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Quite simply, this is just another case of cowboy tradesman taking advantage of vulnerable people.

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Both Dianne and Tony suffer with health problems

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and they really could have done without the added stress.

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It's time to bring in the good guys.

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'Coming up, an independent inspector casts his expert eye over the builder's work.'

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They have come up against something they are a bit unsure of and

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they've bodged it and it has not worked.

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Now, it's time to meet the neighbours.

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Sara and Bob Fitzpatrick and children Bradley and Casey

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have lived next door to the Lightfoots for seven years.

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Five years ago they wanted to replace their draughty old windows.

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The windows were old and they were cold.

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It was cold and it was getting damp, mould was coming through.

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So, we decided to have the windows done.

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Sara and Bob are good friends with neighbours Dianne and Tony, so Sara was happy to take a recommendation

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for the builder who had just built their conservatory.

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They did a really good job, or we thought they did a good job. We got their number

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and went ahead with the company they used next door.

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I wasn't here, I was working.

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So, I just went along with what you looked at, you were happy enough.

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It needed doing, so we went ahead with it.

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The quote was good, we had two more quotes and he came up the cheapest.

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He quoted us roughly £2,800.

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The quotes were sort of £3,500, £4,500.

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So, there was a big difference between £2,800 and £4,500.

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You know, times were hard, so we went ahead with that one.

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Follow my top tips when you're looking for a builder.

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If one builder's quote is much lower than the rest, ask yourself why.

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Get a detailed breakdown of the quote.

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The cost of building work is made up

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of two main parts, labour and materials.

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Compare the quotes carefully to identify where the cheapest

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builder is planning to cut the cost,

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to satisfy yourself they won't be cutting corners on your job.

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Sara was hooked on the attractive price, but things soon turned ugly.

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He arrived and started upstairs.

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Then, I got a bit nervous that he got a crowbar and he was crowbarring the windows out.

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That was damaging the walls. They cracked the tiles in the bathroom.

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It was just...

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the way he was working, it didn't seem to be professional.

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The second day, he finished the job,

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didn't clear up, bits of glass on the floor and the screws,

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bits of plastic, things like that. Got his money and just went.

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I was happy with the job,

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you know, I had new windows and it looked absolutely lovely,

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but you just never know. I was blind.

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It's easy to get carried away when things clearly look

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better than before, but you should always inspect the work thoroughly.

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When Bob got home, that's exactly what he did and he was less than impressed with the job done.

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Well, it just looked ugly.

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You look at the holes...

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No, not good. It didn't look straight.

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I just noticed straight away.

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It was the damage to the inside of the property.

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The gaps in the walls that he'd left.

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When it started raining, it started leaking.

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It wasn't just little drips, it was quite...

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bad because we had really bad weather.

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All the wallpaper was damp and it was leaking through.

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Sara and Bob paid £2,800 for their new windows, but the finish was appalling.

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They were draughty and they leaked.

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We paid in cash. I can't even remember if we had a receipt.

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We spent £2,800 on a job that should have been done and finished

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but it wasn't. We tried to ring the company up, the number was discontinued.

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Couldn't even get hold of them, they wasn't even trading under that name.

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That was it, we didn't know what to do.

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Both neighbours, the Fitzpatricks and the Lightfoots,

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have been left drowning in damp by the same corner-cutting cowboy.

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Sara and Bob wanted brand-new windows and doors but all they got was wonky dangerous windows

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and it could have cost them their friendship with the neighbours.

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'I need to take a closer look at the damage.'

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-Hello, are you Sara?

-I am, yes.

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-Hi, I'm Clive from BBC's Cowboy Trap. Do you mind showing me around?

-No, not at all.

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Thank you.

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Let's see what the job looks like from the outside.

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-How many windows in total, Sara?

-Eight windows and the door as well.

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Eight windows and the door, OK. What problems did you have with them?

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Leaking - all the edges are coming off. The trims are all split.

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Basically this bit in here.

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It's all been put, in but it's all coming off on the other ones as well.

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Looking at it first of all, it doesn't look like the windows are seated properly.

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That is way too far forward.

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It is a bit of a concern, I have to say that it

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-also seems like it's out of line.

-OK.

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So, that will definitely need addressing. What about the window up top?

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That's the one that's got the gap. So, you can see daylight through it.

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So, that's going to need adjusting.

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And again, I have to say it's sitting too proud of the wall, way too proud.

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It obviously needs adjusting.

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-Just show me the remaining windows if you would.

-OK.

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What were the problems that you had with this window?

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This is the window that leaked.

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Again, it's sitting too far forward, it's not sat back enough.

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That's, I can tell you now, where the rain has started to come in at the top.

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Now, that header trim there, is actually bowing like that.

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The problem being, I don't know if you can see there, the top of this opener here, it's actually touching.

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And what's happening is, because they've not packed it out properly,

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the pressure will drop and drop and eventually...

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I mean, worse-case scenario when it has too much pressure the glass can shatter.

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-Oh!

-So, as you can see there, a lot of pressure already coming down.

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We can't actually open that window, so that would be why, I suppose.

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I've just clocked another one now. Sorry, I'm really sorry.

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But any problems with this one here, to the bedroom?

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The only problem with that one, we needed a safety catch for the children, a safety window.

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We asked for one, but we didn't get one.

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I need to go and have a look inside now.

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-I know this is where you've done some remedial work yourself, isn't it?

-Yes.

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-I think we should go and have a look at what is happening inside.

-OK.

-Let's go.

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'The windows don't look good at all from the outside.

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'I'd be surprised if they looked much better from inside.'

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Clive, this is what I've done to make things better.

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There was a big hole down the side, so I've put all the trims on.

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You know why there'd have been big holes in there, Sara, because

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when they took the old windows out it would have sat back much further.

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-They sat in properly and that's why you've had to do remedial work. Have you put the tiles on there?

-I did.

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Why did you have to do that?

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Cos he used a crowbar to get the windows out, so he dented all the wood underneath.

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-So, he damaged all the sill?

-Yeah.

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Wow, it's just butchered isn't it, really?

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'The builder has done a right bodge job on these windows.

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'The finish is dreadful and some of them won't even open.'

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Wow, I tell you what that was never going to open.

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The pressure on it must be immense, big style.

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That's just not good, is it?

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It just gets worse as you come inside.

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That's got to be addressed because if it was a means of escape

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-at any time, how the heck are you going to get out of there?

-You wouldn't.

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You had water coming in here. Tell me what the problem was there?

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Rain used to come all the way through and go across and down the wall and

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it used to come out, it's all stained there, on the corners.

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'Upstairs in son Bradley's room, the window is downright lethal.'

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That is just not child-safe at all.

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Long drop down and that way window opened way too wide.

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It would not pass any safety regulations whatsoever.

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-Let's go back down and I'll sort everything out.

-OK.

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Amazingly, the day it was finished Sara was delighted.

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The two days were over, you come out and you have a look at the job and what did you say?

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-"Wow. Lovely."

-Get out. Get out!

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I did. I didn't know any different.

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The windows were in, they looked lovely. Compared to what I had before,

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the windows looked, wow, brilliant.

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-Did you have that same feeling?

-I didn't, did I?

-No, not really.

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I'd been working all day and I had a look round and I thought,

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-"How much did you pay for that?"

-I was still happy with the job that he'd done. Until..

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Until?

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-It rained.

-No way, what happened?

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It started to gush in through...

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-the windows.

-Not all the windows?

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-Four of them. So, we had puddles on the floor.

-Wow!

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It was damp, wasn't it?

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Damp and...

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then the mould sets in.

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That is pretty serious, isn't it?

0:19:230:19:25

The wallpaper started to bubble,

0:19:250:19:29

carpets were wet.

0:19:290:19:32

That is a shock to me, that's way more serious than I thought.

0:19:320:19:35

I could see that they weren't fitted very well.

0:19:350:19:40

You must have been gutted by that time.

0:19:400:19:43

Gutted, I was gutted,

0:19:430:19:46

definitely gutted.

0:19:460:19:47

So, what could we do for you?

0:19:470:19:51

What would you like us to do

0:19:510:19:54

to address the problem?

0:19:540:19:56

-Basically, put the windows in properly, I suppose.

-Do you know what,

0:19:560:20:00

my promise to you is that's exactly what we are going to do.

0:20:000:20:04

'Coming up, neighbours Sara and Tony join forces to confront the builder who bodged both jobs.'

0:20:040:20:11

He's not away is he? Any idea what time he'll be back home?

0:20:110:20:14

They say lightning never strikes twice,

0:20:190:20:21

but it did in this Lowestoft street, when a bodging builder worked on two neighbouring properties.

0:20:210:20:27

Dianne and Tony Lightfoot's retirement dream was for a light

0:20:270:20:31

and airy conservatory, but they've been left nursing a leaky dead loss.

0:20:310:20:37

There was a lot of stress, tremendous amount

0:20:370:20:40

because the biggest fear for me was that

0:20:400:20:44

the main wall of the house was being affected by the absorption of this water.

0:20:440:20:50

The green is coming through, isn't it, indoors?

0:20:510:20:54

So, we were worried that we may have to have part of the wall removed and rebuilt.

0:20:540:21:02

Well, there was no way we could do that, we haven't got the money for that.

0:21:020:21:06

Dianne and Tony have spent their life savings, but all they've been left with is a building nightmare.

0:21:060:21:12

Before the good guys get stuck in, completely overhauling this cowboy conservatory,

0:21:120:21:17

let's get the verdict of independent building surveyor, Christian Mountney.

0:21:170:21:22

Christian, how are you, sir?

0:21:260:21:29

-Nice to see you.

-What have you found that doesn't meet your liking?

0:21:290:21:34

Right, well, obviously what we've got here

0:21:340:21:37

is the result of the way they've weathered the conservatory.

0:21:370:21:42

They've put a gypsum plaster over the original render, that's behind there.

0:21:420:21:47

Gypsum does not function in any way well when it gets wet.

0:21:470:21:51

It does what you see here, it goes crumbly, peeling, flakes, falls off.

0:21:510:21:56

The salts get drawn out of the wall.

0:21:560:21:58

What we've got out there is a plastic gutter that sits against the wall of the house and they've attempted

0:21:580:22:05

to weather the gutter to the wall by using a lead flashing, which normally would be quite acceptable.

0:22:050:22:13

However, what they haven't done is installed the lead correctly.

0:22:130:22:15

It looks like they've brought a piece of lead to site which is too small. It then looks like

0:22:150:22:21

they've come back to have another go.

0:22:210:22:23

They've gunked a load of mastic into the joint and

0:22:230:22:27

that hasn't worked either. Water has still found its way behind the lead.

0:22:270:22:32

They've come back and put a strip of what we call flash band

0:22:320:22:35

against the wall, which is a torch-on felt strip,

0:22:350:22:41

which is not suitable for doing a long strip like this.

0:22:410:22:44

It might solve your problem for a month, but it is going to peel off.

0:22:440:22:48

It would seem that this company is a company that...they construct

0:22:480:22:53

these plastic conservatories, windows, that sort of thing.

0:22:530:22:56

They probably do a reasonable job.

0:22:560:22:57

They've come up against something they are a little bit unsure of and they've bodged it, it's not worked.

0:22:570:23:04

What mark out of a ten would you give the guys that did this conservatory?

0:23:040:23:07

Well, for the way they've weathered the conservatory construction against the wall it would be a nought.

0:23:070:23:14

Nought out of ten - that's disgraceful.

0:23:140:23:18

While the good guys get started dismantling the leaky conservatory, I'm going to chat to Dianne and Tony

0:23:180:23:24

to find out more about this cowboy builder.

0:23:240:23:27

-So, the job was done, at that stage you were happy, you paid the final payment I would imagine.

-Yes.

0:23:270:23:34

Neighbours came in, we celebrated the new conservatory

0:23:340:23:38

and then it rained, it really rained.

0:23:380:23:41

The rain started to heave down.

0:23:410:23:43

And then you got rain coming inside.

0:23:430:23:46

Yes, all over the door, it didn't come along the wall, just over the door.

0:23:460:23:50

-So, we put newspapers down and called them back and it took them a long time to come round.

-How long?

0:23:500:23:56

-They put some gunge...

-It must have been three or four weeks.

0:23:560:24:00

Three or four weeks, they let you actually...

0:24:000:24:04

-Think we'd been done properly.

-Yes.

0:24:040:24:07

I just don't understand. If rain is coming into your home and causing damage to the internal...

0:24:070:24:14

side of the property, why did it take them so long?

0:24:140:24:18

-They were so busy on other jobs.

-On jobs you'd given them?

-Yeah.

0:24:180:24:25

So, again you called them out, said, "Look it's still leaking."

0:24:250:24:28

-We are always calling them.

-Call them all the time. They are on holiday, they are somewhere else.

0:24:280:24:34

I saw them in the street and I said When are you coming to finish

0:24:340:24:36

"my conservatory?" He said, "I'm not, we've finished it, it is finished."

0:24:360:24:40

I said, "No it's not, it's still leaking."

0:24:400:24:42

He said, "Well, we've gone broke."

0:24:420:24:44

So, I said, "You're just a crook then"

0:24:440:24:47

and he walked away.

0:24:470:24:50

'Follow my top tip if things go wrong with your building project.'

0:24:510:24:54

Don't be a pushover for your careless contractor.

0:24:540:24:58

Contact Consumer Direct for advice

0:24:580:25:00

on how to notify your builder you are dissatisfied with their work.

0:25:000:25:05

They will help you set deadlines to correct

0:25:050:25:08

the problems and advise you how you may be able to recover your money.

0:25:080:25:12

Fortunately we've got the good guys in now to right all the wrongs.

0:25:130:25:19

Hey, things have got really busy here, Ian.

0:25:190:25:21

Do you mind coming down and having a quick chat with us?

0:25:210:25:24

-Sure.

-Ian, what did you make of the original work these guys had done?

0:25:240:25:28

The work just wasn't finished to a very high standard.

0:25:280:25:32

None of the corner trims were in place.

0:25:320:25:34

It was just very shoddily finished.

0:25:340:25:36

It was a sort of quick get-in and get-out job, it appears.

0:25:360:25:39

There are fundamental errors which could have been avoided

0:25:390:25:42

which would have stopped the issues the customers are having.

0:25:420:25:44

I think it is a little bit of a lack of knowledge

0:25:440:25:46

which has caused the problem but the overall finish is very, very poor.

0:25:460:25:50

Just talk us through what you intend to do and how it is going to look at the end.

0:25:500:25:55

The intention is to put everything right for the customers.

0:25:550:25:58

The main problem is there hasn't been any proper sealing done along the box gutter area.

0:25:580:26:02

We didn't know how bad the roof was constructed so we've decided we

0:26:020:26:07

to remove the whole roof so we can then know that we can start from scratch.

0:26:070:26:11

We are going to seal the box gutter to the wall.

0:26:110:26:14

Make sure the flashings are cut into the brickwork and not just stopping at the render.

0:26:140:26:18

Once we've got the whole roof replaced, we are then looking

0:26:180:26:21

to replaster the wall which was damaged, get that replastered and painted.

0:26:210:26:25

Get everything watertight so they don't have a repeat of the problems.

0:26:250:26:28

-I'll catch up with you later, if that's OK?

-That's fine. When I look like I'm flagging come and rescue me.

0:26:280:26:33

-OK. Thank you, mate.

-Thanks very much.

0:26:330:26:36

Well, things seem to be running very smoothly in the conservatory. Let's find out what's going on next door.

0:26:450:26:51

Coming up, Dianne and Tony finally get the conservatory they dreamed of.

0:26:540:26:59

Hey, ain't that super?

0:26:590:27:01

Back next door, the Fitzpatricks brush with the same bodging builder, also ended badly.

0:27:050:27:10

Sara and Bob Fitzpatrick have lived next door to Dianne

0:27:100:27:14

and Tony Lightfoot for seven years, so, when Sara wanted a builder

0:27:140:27:18

to replace all their draughty old windows, she was happy to take her neighbour's recommendation.

0:27:180:27:24

Sara and Bob thought this cowboy had done a great job on the conservatory

0:27:260:27:30

next door unaware of the troubles ahead.

0:27:300:27:33

And oblivious to the pressure it would eventually put on their relationship.

0:27:330:27:38

I had new windows and it looked absolutely lovely.

0:27:380:27:42

With the rain, it would leak and everybody would start shouting, just get heated up, you know.

0:27:420:27:48

Yeah, and there was me saying, "I told you so."

0:27:480:27:51

And then obviously it's like, "No, no, no!" and in the end you know...

0:27:510:27:56

This builder managed to bodge both neighbours' jobs

0:27:570:28:02

and these windows aren't only draughty, they are dangerous.

0:28:020:28:06

Our good guy, Ian Real, is doing a great job next door with

0:28:060:28:09

the conservatory, so I want to get his verdict on these warped windows.

0:28:090:28:15

Look at the state of the top trim there.

0:28:150:28:17

It's just so tight up against the opener.

0:28:170:28:20

It's not fitted correctly, certainly.

0:28:200:28:22

To my mind the window has gone in oversized because there isn't that much margin at the top.

0:28:220:28:27

It's just not the way to fit it. Looking at this here, the bead that you have

0:28:270:28:32

taken off here.

0:28:320:28:33

The window is sitting here more or less flush with the brickwork.

0:28:330:28:37

That should be a good 45 ml set back, or an inch and three quarters.

0:28:370:28:42

Just to stop the cold transfer and to allow you to seal up properly.

0:28:420:28:46

-What about that one, though?

-Oh, crikey, I hadn't noticed that.

0:28:460:28:50

-It looks like it's going to drop out altogether, doesn't it?

-It does.

0:28:500:28:53

That's the mortar groove you can see on the underside of the sill.

0:28:530:28:56

That should actually be well within the brickwork.

0:28:560:28:58

That's to provide the key between the cement work and the window.

0:28:580:29:02

I just do not know why they've brought them so far forward.

0:29:020:29:05

It's the easiest thing in the world to criticise other people's work,

0:29:050:29:08

but in this instance it is very, very poor.

0:29:080:29:11

But the great news is that the good guys are going to lend a hand to fix all these mistakes.

0:29:110:29:16

On this job Sara had to make all the decisions, from hiring the builder

0:29:190:29:23

to overseeing the work while Bob was away working.

0:29:230:29:27

He was less than impressed with what was done.

0:29:270:29:31

-What did you think was the problem?

-Just a mess really, I thought it was, didn't I?

0:29:310:29:36

I said straight away.

0:29:360:29:38

-Especially when it's nearly three grand.

-Yeah, it's a lot of money.

0:29:380:29:41

So, there were a few nights and days where things were stressed.

0:29:410:29:46

Basically, when it was raining, the kids were like, "There's wet on the floor."

0:29:460:29:51

I would have to get up in the middle of the night and go and put

0:29:510:29:54

buckets on the floor, pans, whatever I could get really, towels.

0:29:540:29:59

That is just bonkers.

0:29:590:30:01

You know wallpaper on the side getting a bit mucky, bloating, keep wiping it just to get by.

0:30:010:30:06

But, Bob, did you do the "I told you so", bit?

0:30:060:30:11

Well, I did but you know what it's like.

0:30:110:30:13

-How...?

-He told me so, yeah, he did.

0:30:130:30:17

Bob was saying, "Done this, it's wrong, that doesn't look right,

0:30:170:30:21

"this doesn't look right" and we'd just paid a lot of money.

0:30:210:30:25

It can test relationships this sort of thing.

0:30:250:30:28

There was a fair few words exchanged.

0:30:280:30:32

Things have been tough for the Fitzpatricks, so I'm glad that the good guys are here to help.

0:30:320:30:38

We're going to make sure that the windows are refitted

0:30:380:30:42

so that they are safe, secure, watertight and, of course, look good.

0:30:420:30:46

'I'm going to leave these boys to it while I get Sara and Tony together

0:30:460:30:49

'to see if we can't track down this cowboy.'

0:30:490:30:52

OK, Sara are we ready to make that call?

0:30:520:30:56

PHONE RINGS

0:30:580:31:00

-'Unfortunately this cowboy is playing hide and seek.'

-When will he be there?

0:31:040:31:07

'The builder's previous number was disconnected

0:31:070:31:10

'but we've got another number to try and there's an answer.'

0:31:100:31:13

Can you get him to ring me back on this number, then?

0:31:130:31:16

What do you reckon, Tony, do you think he'll phone us back?

0:31:160:31:21

I think he's probably there anyway.

0:31:210:31:22

What they try and do is, it's a big smokescreen.

0:31:220:31:27

This again, typical.

0:31:270:31:29

The cowardice comes from...

0:31:290:31:31

Normally they won't want to speak, normally...

0:31:310:31:34

they stop using that particular phone number, move onto another phone number.

0:31:340:31:39

It's just again part of this cowardice make up of these people.

0:31:390:31:44

That they can't come forward and go, "You know what I've made a mistake here, I've done wrong."

0:31:440:31:50

'Surprise, surprise, the builder never did return our call.

0:31:500:31:55

'Time to check in with the good guys.'

0:31:550:31:58

-Hey, Ian.

-Yes, mate.

0:31:580:32:01

Oh, I'm loving that.

0:32:010:32:03

So much is happening what is left to do? Obviously you are taking this window out.

0:32:030:32:08

We've got this window and the other kitchen window to come out.

0:32:080:32:11

We've done the two upstairs.

0:32:110:32:13

That one's complete, so we are now just rushing on these last two and

0:32:130:32:17

we should be able to get those done, hopefully by the end of play today. That's the aim.

0:32:170:32:21

Is this unique for you, Ian, working on two properties, next door to each other?

0:32:210:32:26

We've done work on properties together before but not at the same time.

0:32:260:32:29

Normally we finish one job before we move onto the next.

0:32:290:32:31

We like to try and keep things tidy and everyone happy before we move onto the next customer.

0:32:310:32:36

-This is unique.

-You can keep an eye on both jobs at the same time.

0:32:360:32:40

You can, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing but we're trying our best.

0:32:400:32:43

-OK, keep up the good work. Cheers, Ian.

-Cheers, mate.

0:32:430:32:47

'Coming up, Sara and Bob can finally sleep sound as their newly-fitted windows are revealed.'

0:32:470:32:53

Oh, my God, how different.

0:32:530:32:55

Oh, my Lord.

0:32:550:32:57

Back at the Lightfoots, our good guys have had their

0:32:590:33:02

work cut out, completely overhauling the leaky conservatory.

0:33:020:33:07

They've had to remove the roof and install new flashing and guttering as well as fixing the wall.

0:33:070:33:12

'Poor Dianne and Tony have been left feeling bruised both financially and emotionally.'

0:33:120:33:18

How do you feel about recommending these guys?

0:33:180:33:21

Dreadful, dreadful because we were so pleased with what

0:33:210:33:27

they'd done for us that we thought that they were worth recommending.

0:33:270:33:32

Just thinking about it upsets me.

0:33:320:33:35

I'm sure. These guys tend not to care about people's feelings.

0:33:350:33:42

It was quite dreadful.

0:33:420:33:43

'The good guys are finishing up and it's finally time to cheer up

0:33:460:33:49

'this lovely couple and reveal their brand-new conservatory.'

0:33:490:33:53

Just remind what that conservatory was like before we arrived.

0:33:530:33:59

A scrapheap, water pouring down the wall.

0:33:590:34:02

Rain coming down inside.

0:34:020:34:04

Taking the wall apart, the wall was falling apart, the plaster was just peeling off, just breaking off.

0:34:040:34:09

So, what are you hoping for?

0:34:090:34:11

Just that the rain doesn't come in and we will be able to sit out there, it will be lovely.

0:34:110:34:15

And what about you, Tony?

0:34:150:34:17

The same thing - that we don't have to keep worrying about

0:34:170:34:20

laying newspapers down on the floor every night.

0:34:200:34:23

It's that time to show you guys exactly what we've done.

0:34:230:34:26

So, are you ready?

0:34:260:34:28

-Yes.

-OK, guys let's go and have a look.

0:34:280:34:30

Let's see what this job is all like.

0:34:300:34:32

Follow me.

0:34:350:34:37

-Come in.

-Wow.

0:34:390:34:42

Great, that's super.

0:34:420:34:44

It's really lovely.

0:34:480:34:49

-Do you like that, darling?

-Lovely.

0:34:490:34:51

Is it going to make you cry? You're all right, come on, come on.

0:34:520:34:57

Listen, this is what it's all about.

0:34:570:35:00

-This is what it's all about, Dianne.

-That is super duper.

0:35:000:35:03

Our good guys have done a cracking job.

0:35:050:35:07

This roof was far from watertight - the flashing was faulty, the guttering a travesty.

0:35:070:35:14

We've completely replaced the roof with a custom-built solution.

0:35:140:35:18

The dodgy old gutters have gone, with bespoke box guttering providing a professional finish.

0:35:180:35:24

Inside we've hacked back the mould infested wall

0:35:240:35:28

and re-rendered and redecorated to create a smart new interior.

0:35:280:35:32

Overall, the effect is the classic conservatory

0:35:320:35:36

Dianne and Tony dreamed of

0:35:360:35:38

and just the sort of finish you should expect when you call in the professionals.

0:35:380:35:43

A brand spanking new conservatory roof.

0:35:430:35:48

-New light, what do you reckon?

-Absolutely superb. New light, yes.

0:35:480:35:52

-Fantastic.

-Thank you.

0:35:520:35:55

You're more than welcome. You're more than welcome.

0:35:550:35:57

Thank you very much.

0:35:570:35:59

This is what it's all about. Well, I really hope

0:35:590:36:02

you enjoy your conservatory the way it was supposed to be enjoyed.

0:36:020:36:07

Even outside, you know, you know that downspout, that's gone.

0:36:070:36:13

A proper downspout has been put in and redirected, so, you haven't got that stupid pipe outside your door.

0:36:130:36:18

But listen you take good care of yourselves now, keep those cowboy builders away.

0:36:180:36:25

-Yes, we will.

-OK, good.

0:36:250:36:27

Well, that's another victory for the good guys

0:36:300:36:33

and seeing Dianne and Tony's faces got me pretty emotional, I've got to be honest.

0:36:330:36:37

At least they've got a wonderful conservatory now.

0:36:370:36:40

Dianne and Tony didn't waste any time settling into their new conservatory.

0:36:400:36:45

I'd call that a result.

0:36:450:36:48

Next door, our good guys, again led by Ian, are putting the finishing touches

0:36:490:36:55

to Sara and Bob's newly replaced windows.

0:36:550:36:58

Poor Dianne and Tony, they still feel responsible for recommending the builder who bodged both jobs.

0:36:580:37:03

So, I want to find out if this has harmed their friendship.

0:37:030:37:09

How has it affected your relationship with Dianne and Tony next door?

0:37:090:37:14

-It hasn't at all.

-Not at all.

0:37:140:37:18

Because there are a lot of people that have been involved in this sort of thing before with neighbours and

0:37:180:37:23

-it ends up absolutely nailing the relationship.

-No, definitely not.

0:37:230:37:27

No, not with them. They are lovely, an absolutely lovely couple.

0:37:270:37:31

You wouldn't wish for better neighbours.

0:37:310:37:33

We don't bear a grudge or anything like that at all.

0:37:330:37:36

The Lightfoots and Fitzpatricks are lucky their friendship survived the cowboy's attack.

0:37:360:37:42

Follow my advice and you won't risk falling out with your nearest and dearest.

0:37:420:37:47

Our good guys' work is almost done,

0:37:580:38:00

all we need to do is install a smile for this happy couple.

0:38:000:38:04

But what have they learned from this experience?

0:38:040:38:07

Get references definitely. Go and inspect some work, the work that they've done.

0:38:070:38:13

Just get some general knowledge about the company as well.

0:38:130:38:17

Great, it's a great idea. What about you, Bob?

0:38:170:38:19

Just investigate a bit more and then go with the flow and hopefully it's OK.

0:38:190:38:24

And don't forget, if you are unhappy

0:38:240:38:26

and you think things are going wrong at the time you have got to flag it up.

0:38:260:38:30

-Yeah.

-I think that's the most important thing as well.

0:38:300:38:32

No cash up front, either. Contracts, all the rest of it.

0:38:320:38:35

Can you remember some of the bad things that had gone on before we arrived?

0:38:350:38:40

Basically, the windows wouldn't open, there was gaps and it was just a mess.

0:38:400:38:45

-A mess, yes.

-A bit chilly-willy in winter, Bob?

0:38:450:38:47

-Yes, definitely.

-Definitely.

0:38:470:38:49

So, what are you now hoping for because I know you did a lot of

0:38:490:38:54

your own reparation work, particularly inside?

0:38:540:38:56

A nice finish. That would be lovely.

0:38:560:38:59

Better presentation and looking better.

0:38:590:39:01

No holes, no looseness and looking good.

0:39:010:39:04

And I can open my window.

0:39:040:39:05

Let's go.

0:39:050:39:08

After you, Bob.

0:39:080:39:09

Oh, my God! How different.

0:39:120:39:14

Oh, my Lord!

0:39:140:39:16

What's the first thing that hits you when you see those windows now, compared to what they did look like?

0:39:160:39:21

It's totally different - they've been put in properly and the trim.

0:39:210:39:25

The presentation's lovely.

0:39:250:39:27

Hundred times better.

0:39:270:39:29

In terms of that window there, do you remember there was

0:39:290:39:33

a couple of problems with it, do you remember what they were?

0:39:330:39:36

-The bow at the top.

-Yes, it was bowing at the top and the window wouldn't open.

0:39:360:39:40

The window wouldn't open. What's the point in having a window

0:39:400:39:43

and it doesn't open because at the end of the day that could, one day, be the means of escape.

0:39:430:39:47

-Yeah, fire escape.

-I'm going to go and check if that window opens. Come on.

0:39:470:39:51

Our good guys' work has really shone here this week.

0:39:550:39:59

Sara and Bob's windows were an eyesore, draughty and dangerous and they let in the damp.

0:39:590:40:05

Now they fit like a glove, safely and securely seated in place.

0:40:050:40:10

There will be no more dripping sills or draughty gaps in the Fitzpatrick house,

0:40:100:40:13

and they can be certain that dangerous drops and jammed windows are a thing of the past.

0:40:130:40:20

Now, this is important.

0:40:210:40:23

Ohh. It opens.

0:40:270:40:29

Oh, wicked.

0:40:290:40:31

-It just wouldn't open before, would it?

-No, it wouldn't open at all. It's lovely.

-But now it does.

0:40:310:40:36

All round the trim... Everything else is fantastic.

0:40:360:40:40

It looks the absolute business but you know what,

0:40:400:40:42

when it comes to security, the most important window was?

0:40:420:40:46

-My son's bedroom.

-Your son's bedroom, shall we go and check that out?

-Lovely, yeah.

-Come on.

0:40:460:40:50

The most worrying window was in son Bradley's bedroom

0:40:500:40:54

where missing safety catches meant the window opened wide to reveal a dangerous drop.

0:40:540:41:00

Here we go.

0:41:000:41:03

Obviously, again the work they've done with the window,

0:41:030:41:05

it's fantastic, it's secure now but when you open the window...

0:41:050:41:10

Oh, that's better, isn't it?

0:41:100:41:14

Now if you are concerned about how to open it, it's very simple.

0:41:140:41:18

These green tags either side, if you clip them up like so and push, the window will open as it did before.

0:41:180:41:26

So, for security and safety purposes, great that it's keeping your boy safe.

0:41:260:41:31

If it was needed to be a means of escape in case of fire, or whatever, you can still open that window now.

0:41:310:41:37

OK.

0:41:370:41:38

As you shut the window those little pegs will lock in,

0:41:380:41:43

shut it down, when you go to open it again, it's locked.

0:41:430:41:48

-Peace of mind.

-How does that make you feel?

0:41:480:41:51

-Brilliant.

-Peace of mind.

-I can go to bed to sleep.

0:41:510:41:54

The way it should have been.

0:41:540:41:56

The way it should have been.

0:41:560:41:59

You know it's true everybody needs good neighbours.

0:41:590:42:02

And these guys are certainly lucky enough to live next door to each other.

0:42:020:42:05

Their friendship has been strong enough to withstand both the emotional AND financial burdens.

0:42:050:42:12

I'm really pleased that no cowboy could rustle up trouble between these neighbours.

0:42:120:42:18

You know who you are and now we know who you are

0:42:190:42:22

and by exposing your dirty tricks we'll prevent others from falling into the Cowboy Trap.

0:42:220:42:28

If you've had a problem with builders and you would like to tell your story on Cowboy Trap

0:42:290:42:35

then please call us on...

0:42:350:42:36

Or you can send us an email to...

0:42:440:42:49

Help us round up the cowboys.

0:42:490:42:51

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:140:43:17

Email [email protected]

0:43:170:43:20

Clive is in Lowestoft, Suffolk, to meet neighbours who were both stung by the same cowboy builder. He investigates a carelessly built conservatory, and discovers the neighbours' windows are not only badly fitted but dangerous.