Episode 15 Cowboy Trap


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Episode 15

Clive Holland has help and advice for homeowners who have fallen victim to cowboy builders. The team is in Glasgow to investigate double glazing that leaks every time it rains.


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Across the length and breadth of the country,

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cowboy builders and rogue traders are causing chaos and destruction

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to people's homes and their lives.

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They were taking the radiators off the walls and loading everything off into their van.

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So I rang the police.

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We're going to show you some of the worst building disasters in Britain.

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Unfortunately, we were left to pick up the pieces of this, you know what I mean.

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It's been quite traumatic, the last four-and-a-half years.

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Along with my team of experts,

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I'm here to help those who've suffered at the hands of these shameful individuals

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and turn devastation into delight.

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Oh, wow! Look at this.

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Remember to listen up and take on board all my hints and tips,

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so you don't get caught between a rock and a hard place

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and end up falling into the Cowboy Trap.

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On today's Cowboy Trap, we're travelling the length of the UK.

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We're in Dorset where a teacher wanted a new extension,

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but ended up with a builder who should have been kept in detention.

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I arrived about four days into the project

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and he'd knocked the door down into the kitchen,

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but he'd done it in the wrong place

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and I said, "That's not where the door goes."

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And we're heading to Glasgow,

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where it never rains but it pours,

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as one family found out when they had new double glazing installed by a rogue salesman.

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As soon as it rains during the winter, we get the rain in again.

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And I can actually lift a bar of soap and stand under that and have a shower with it.

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This family has endured four years of misery

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as rain and damp has ruined their curtains, blinds and decorations.

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All because of dodgy double glazing.

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It's cost us thousands of pounds, too, I mean,

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just for getting these new windows in, that were faulty,

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do you know what I mean?

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First up, we're in Broadstone, Dorset,

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where teacher, Ann Yates loves living with her German Shepherd, Poppy.

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Her two-bed bungalow was fine for her,

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but when her daughter gave birth to a new grandson,

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she wanted extra bedrooms and a new bathroom for when they came to stay.

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While she was at it, she would have a new kitchen fitted, too.

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It was a two-bedroom bungalow,

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but upstairs the attic had already been converted with windows.

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So it just needed stairs putting in

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and the upstairs made habitable because there were already three windows in.

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When I talked to the architect, he said, "You need extra windows because you need extra roof height."

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With architects' plans in place, and a £50,000 mortgage to pay for the work,

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Ann found a builder who completely put her at ease from the start.

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'I was really pleased. He was very, very reassuring,'

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because he'd put his arm round me, "Everything's fine, don't worry about it."

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The work was so extensive that Ann had to move out and into temporary accommodation,

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so she wasn't always there to supervise.

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But for a while, everything seemed fine.

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About three or four weeks before the building project was due to be finished,

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the kitchen still hadn't been fitted.

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A couple of neighbours stopped me and said, "They don't arrive until 10.00 and they leave at 3.00."

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Oh, and I arrived and they had a barbecue going,

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a crowd of workman had a barbecue in the garden going

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and they'd broken the back gate getting in.

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The back gate wasn't the only thing this builder's blundering team damaged.

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I was getting uneasy and then he said, "Actually...

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"..one of my builders has fallen through the ceiling so I've got to replaster the ceiling in here.

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"And I had to have the building regs people out and I've had to move a beam."

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One of the beams that he put in.

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And he said, "So the price is going to have to go up by £9,000."

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And I said, "I can't afford £9,000. I told you, I'm on my limit."

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Here's a tip.

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If your builder makes a mistake on your job,

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you're not responsible for paying to put it right. He is.

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If you're having major work done, check your contractor

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has public liability insurance before you agree the contract.

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That way, if the builder puts his foot through your ceiling,

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you can ask him to claim on his insurance to repair the damage.

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With the builder's demands for more money, Ann's funds were soon spent,

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but the build was far from finished.

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The builder knew he had her over a barrel.

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He said, "You've got to think about this realistically.

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"This house, at the moment, is not saleable other than as land. It's rubble.

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"I'm a leading mason. You won't get another builder. You have to find the money."

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Ann felt she had no choice but to borrow more money.

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She handed over £5,000 with an agreement to pay another 4,000 when all the work was complete.

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But days before she was due to move back in, things reached crisis point.

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There was still no kitchen, but the builder wanted even more money.

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He said, "I need another few thousand off you, for the carpenter."

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And I said, "What? I told you I'm not paying."

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And that's when he said, "If you're not paying, we're pulling out."

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And that was horrendous.

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I drove off in tears.

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I drove round the block and thought, "I've got to go back."

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I came back and they were just loading everything onto the vans.

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They were taking the radiators off the walls.

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They were just stripping everything, the house off.

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And he said, "Give me my money or I'm stripping the house out."

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For Ann's three-bedroom loft conversion, kitchen and new shower room,

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she handed over £55,000.

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When the builder left, she was without kitchen, bathroom, water and electricity.

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It's time for me to see Ann's home for myself.

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-Hello.

-Are you Ann?

-I am.

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-I hear you've had some problems with cowboy builders.

-Yes, I have. Come on in.

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'When the builder left, there was no water or electricity supply,

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'so Ann had to get essential work done to connect them.

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'But there's still work to do including the unfinished bathroom.'

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Now, normally, Ann, I'd ask you to show me around your property, all the damage that had gone on.

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I know you've had a lot of remedial work done,

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but you've got digital documented evidence we can take a look through,

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so, if you don't mind, talk me through the photographs.

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This is a photograph of the bathroom. The floor was just building rubble.

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-The tiling ran round.

-It looks a mess.

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It was. It was, because there was, like, cement everywhere.

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So it was sort of not just the cement that it should be,

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-but, like, lumps of cement everywhere.

-Yes.

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-Just daubed all over the place.

-Yeah.

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-Where they'd mixed plaster and it had gone...

-Messy workers.

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This is where the electrician that came in, had to replace the fuse board.

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You can see there's holes in the ceiling and lumps of plaster missing and everything.

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It does look horrible, doesn't it?

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That's my front garden as it was, the same as the back garden was.

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And every piece of that rubbish, I had to move by hand, myself.

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That is a real mess!

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A lot of that timber hadn't come off this property.

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There was strips of old decking, but there was no decking ever at this property.

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-Right.

-So the builder had dumped stuff here.

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He was doing another job somewhere else, offloading all the rubbish here.

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Presumably, at some point, he'd planned to clear it up.

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-But...

-Do you think so, though?

-No, actually.

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Why would you take it off the wagon to drop into your garden

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when it's as easy to leave it on the wagon and go and dump it?

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What can we do for you? What would you like us to do in the timescale that we've got,

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to put a smile on your face and help you move forward?

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The most important thing is that I get a working shower.

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Something I really want is to have a working shower.

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What we'll do is our very, very best to get you right on track and sort that bathroom out

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and I can't wait to show you when we've finished.

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Ann's builder left her high and dry.

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She's cleared up some of his mess, but she can't afford to do it all.

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The shower she dreamed of has no water and no drainage.

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The sink has been abandoned, the tiling unfinished.

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Ann's dream bathroom has been turned into a storeroom.

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Ann's been suffering at the hands of the bad guys for way too long.

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So it's time to show her just how the good guys do it.

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We need builders who can clear up the mess she's been left with.

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And luckily, I know just the guys for the job.

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Coming up, Ann demands some answers when her builder surprises us and picks up the phone.

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I wanted to know, really,

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how many other people you have left in this sort of mess and ripped off.

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We're travelling 450 miles north now, to Springburn in Glasgow,

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where Jean and Alan McCabe

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wanted new windows to make their home snug and dry.

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They bought their house five years ago and were keen to make improvements.

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They were sure new double glazing would keep their home warmer

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and add the finishing touches they'd always wanted.

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We wanted the double glazing, so that...

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Jean's a wee bit house-proud, so we wanted a nice finish and all that

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so she's got a nice house when she's got her pals in.

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With savings at the ready, Jean and Alan scanned the newspaper ads

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to look for a local builder to come and help them.

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A gentleman came out and gave us a quote for just over £3,000

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and he says he can do these 11 windows and it would take his workman two to three days

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and he was saying that they were really professional -

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they wouldn't make a mess and they would make sure

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that everything was as it should be when they left the property.

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Two days later and with a final bill of £3,200, the windows were in

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and, to the untrained eye, it looked like a job well done.

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They looked actually fine from the inside when they were done. You know, they looked nice.

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Obviously because there was no condensation or anything like that on them,

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or dampness on them, but at the time they did look the part.

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The McCabes thought everything was going well until winter set in.

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In the wintertime, and the rain was heavy and the heavy winds,

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in the bay window in the living room, the sitting room, this water was just, you know, was drip drip drip,

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it was all over the sofa, it was running down the blinds.

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And the bedroom upstairs was just... Cos the water was coming in there and dripping into the sitting room,

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you know, so that was damaged upstairs.

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And the bedroom down here, the window ledge was...

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It was tea towels, pots and pans and whatnot

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to try and catch this water, so that it wasn't dripping onto the laminated floor.

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So that was the very first winter after they put the windows in

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and the last four winters have been exactly the same.

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Follow my top tip, if you're thinking of having new double glazing installed.

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This means the work will be guaranteed.

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But make sure they are definitely members

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by contacting FENSA direct, online or by phone.

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With the new windows installed, Jean and Alan couldn't work out

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why their home was letting in so much water every time it rained.

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So they spent even more money on new render and even a new roof.

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For starters, we thought it was the roof.

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We didn't know it was the windows.

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We thought it was the roof.

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It cost us five grand to get a new roof on it.

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And then we thought it was the roughcasting,

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so we paid another £2,000 to get the building re-roughcasted.

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As soon as it rains during the winter,

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we get the rain again.

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And I could actually lift a bar of soap and stand under that and have a shower with it.

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But eventually, they realised the windows they'd spent £3,200 on were the culprits.

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I feel really angry that I let myself get into this situation

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because you trust these people in your house. You trust them to do it.

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You think they're going to do a good job.

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They've took your money and they go away and you think...

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But these people walk away and don't care about the devastation they leave behind them, you know what I mean?

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I've wasted a lot on my decor and things like that,

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and unfortunately... we're left to pick up the pieces, do you know what I mean?

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It's been quite traumatic, the last four-and-a-half years.

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For £3,200, poor Jean and Alan have endured four-and-a-half years of stress,

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water pouring into their house and the added pressure and expense

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of extra remedial work that didn't even need doing.

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It's time for me to have a look at the problems for myself.

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You must be Alan. You must be Jean. Hello. I'm Clive from Cowboy Trap.

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How are you?

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-I hear you've had problems with cowboy builders.

-We have.

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-Do you mind showing me the problems you've had?

-No problem.

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Thank you.

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-The water's coming in through this window.

-Yeah.

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And it's causing dampness in the house.

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And every time we wallpaper it,

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it just goes black with the wallpaper.

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-It just peels back off.

-It peels back off.

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And it's also, you know, the flooring that you've got down here is not moisture-proof.

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-You can see moisture's affected that.

-That's right.

-It's started to peel away.

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I was going to make this into a sitting room.

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We ended up stripping the wallpaper off and we just gave up on it.

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So basically, if anybody comes to the front door, I always tend to make sure this door's shut

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because it's embarrassing for somebody to look in and see this.

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I mean, you don't want your house to be like that, you know.

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No. I fully understand, I fully understand that.

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-Do you mind taking me to the other problems as well?

-No problem.

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OK. After you.

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Upstairs, Jean and Alan's desperation has led them to take drastic measures.

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What's on there? I can't see through that window.

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I bricked it up.

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-YOU bricked it up.

-I bricked it up.

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-Right.

-Because it was like a sea coming in.

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-The water was pouring in.

-Was it that bad?

-It was that bad.

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See, if you look on the left-hand corner up there, you can see that it's really black

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and the water just constantly ran right down this side of the wall.

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This wall's been decorated four times in five years.

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That's a lot of agro, isn't it, from poorly fitted windows?

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But you were just saying downstairs, right, that you shut that door so people don't go in there.

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What happens when they go to the loo? They put a blinker on so they can't see it?

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In the bedrooms, the problems continue.

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This window, here, is the one that's actually causing all the bother down in the sitting room

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because when it's heavy winds and rain, the water's actually coming through here, through the cavity.

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In the wintertime, these windows are very...

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The condensation on them is absolutely shocking. You can't even see the other side of the street.

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If you're coming along the road and you look up, it's embarrassing

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because it's very unsightly. It's quite soul-destroying.

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-Yeah.

-And I get quite dead emotional about it, you know, I really do.

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I get dead upset because, you know, I let these guys in my house

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to fix windows and, you know, they left me in this mess.

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There's a lot to take into account

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when you're having double glazing installed.

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Certain windows should provide the means of escape in a fire

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and where there's a high risk of physical contact,

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windows should be fitted with a toughened safety glass.

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I would like to know, in the short time we're here,

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what would you like us to do for you?

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-Fix my windows.

-Fix your windows?

-Stop the water coming in.

-Stop the water coming in and fix my windows.

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What about...that dodgy brickwork on the stairs and the landing?

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-I tell you what, we've got to sort that out!

-Oh, aye, definitely! Aye.

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What we'll do is we'll sort out those windows, we'll sort out the plasterwork in that room

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-and also paint it all up for you as well.

-Great.

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That monster of brickwork on the staircase and the landing, that'll all get sorted too.

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Coming up, what will the independent building surveyor's verdict be?

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The seal between the two panes of glass has broken down,

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therefore the double-glazing unit is ineffective now.

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Back in Broadstone, Dorset,

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Ann Yates wanted a 50 grand loft conversion with three new bedrooms,

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so she could have her daughter and new grandson to stay.

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'To complete the improvements, she planned a new kitchen and bathroom.

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'The builder took her cash, but left the job half done.

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'We've got the good guys standing by to help Ann get back on her feet.

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'But first, I want to hear from the independent surveyor,

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'who's been monitoring this job since it went wrong.

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'He says the builder used people he hadn't worked with before.'

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Now, Eric, as our independent chartered building surveyor,

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it's important that we get your input.

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-Your input's even more valuable cos you've got background history on this property.

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-I have.

-Tell us where this sort of build went wrong

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and what you've seen that you don't like.

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I think one of the problems was he used people that he didn't know the quality of their work

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and he subcontracted quite a bit and wasn't here to supervise it.

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I don't want to listen to excuses about, you know,

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he didn't know the contractors that he brought in as subbies, that he brought in.

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You've got to know your team.

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Even if you don't and you're using somebody new who lets you down,

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you should still come back and put your hands up and say,

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"Yeah, I was wrong, I'll get it put right."

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What was the bathroom like when you came and had a look at it?

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It was really only half-finished.

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Um, I'm trying to remember.

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I don't think the water was on.

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And the door hit the toilet pan.

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And there was the back plate missing from the shower control, which would have been in the box.

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Why that wasn't fitted, I don't know.

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Now, with all the work that you've seen,

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if you were to give the builder a mark out of ten, what sort of mark would you give him?

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Possibly about six, but certainly no higher than that.

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Six out of ten. I feel that was very generous.

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Ann being a schoolteacher, I don't think she'd give him anywhere near that mark.

0:18:530:18:58

I think on the report it'd say, "Could do better. See me after class."

0:18:580:19:01

Now, we've got the good guys in and I know for sure they're going to get top marks.

0:19:010:19:07

Dave is leading our build and there's a lot to do.

0:19:100:19:12

Ann's shower room was abandoned mid-job,

0:19:120:19:16

when the builder bunged his stuff in the trucks and drove off.

0:19:160:19:19

The tiling is only half done and that's going to be a big problem.

0:19:190:19:23

Now, Dave, tell us first of all

0:19:230:19:25

what the problems were that you found in here.

0:19:250:19:28

Well, when I first came to look at the job,

0:19:280:19:30

obviously the tiling hadn't been finished,

0:19:300:19:33

and with the tiling being done - it was over 18 months -

0:19:330:19:36

to get replacement tiles or tiles of a similar style is obviously very difficult.

0:19:360:19:41

-Almost impossible, isn't it?

-Yes, cos obviously they're obsolete.

0:19:410:19:45

So, really, the only way round of doing it is obviously to remove what's here and start afresh.

0:19:450:19:51

OK. In general, what was the actual tiling like?

0:19:510:19:55

Generally, it's not too bad.

0:19:550:19:56

-It's of a reasonable standard.

-But it just wasn't finished.

0:19:560:20:00

No. It wasn't finished

0:20:000:20:01

and obviously, when I took the shower valve off,

0:20:010:20:05

there was no sealant behind the valve, so water can leak in the back of the tiles

0:20:050:20:10

and just cause irreparable damage really.

0:20:100:20:12

-Because obviously behind that, it's just plasterboard.

-Yes.

0:20:120:20:15

OK. So what is your plan?

0:20:150:20:17

What is the overall plan now?

0:20:170:20:19

-I notice you've started taking these tiles off.

-Yeah.

0:20:190:20:21

But what is the plan to move on from here?

0:20:210:20:23

-Well, carry on, strip the rest of the room out.

-Yeah.

0:20:230:20:27

Then re-plasterboard as necessary.

0:20:270:20:28

Get the walls nice and flat and prepared for tiling.

0:20:280:20:31

While the guys get stuck in, I want to find out from Ann,

0:20:310:20:35

what checks she made on her builder before she hired him.

0:20:350:20:38

Did you get any references for the builder?

0:20:380:20:41

Well, when we'd agreed the quote and everything else,

0:20:410:20:44

he sat down and I said, "I should get some references."

0:20:440:20:47

That's what it says on the Federation Of Master Builders website - get some references.

0:20:470:20:52

He said, "There's my Federation Of Master Builders' certificate,

0:20:520:20:55

"but I've just finished a job for a lady, I'll ring her."

0:20:550:20:58

So he rang her and he said, "Do you want to chat to her?"

0:20:580:21:01

He was chatting to her and I went, "Oh, no. No, it's all right,"

0:21:010:21:04

because it was just... a bit embarrassing.

0:21:040:21:07

Chatting over the phone, I don't get that. That could have been his mum,

0:21:070:21:11

so it wouldn't have mattered.

0:21:110:21:13

What I'd suggest, is you go and see the work for yourself and not with the builder over your shoulder.

0:21:130:21:19

You go, you knock on the door and you just say, "Look, I'm thinking of having the builder you had."

0:21:190:21:24

Right, even standing at the door's fine. You know, "I'll only keep you for a minute.

0:21:240:21:29

"Did they turn up on time, stick to the quote? Was the housekeeping good?

0:21:290:21:32

"You know, did everything go to plan?"

0:21:320:21:35

And they go tick, tick, tick, or they go, "You've got to be kidding."

0:21:350:21:40

Now, then, you've saved yourself a lot of heartache and a lot of money.

0:21:400:21:44

Follow my top tip.

0:21:440:21:47

Don't be embarrassed to ask for references.

0:21:470:21:50

A good builder will be pleased to share

0:21:500:21:52

his glowing customer reviews with you

0:21:520:21:54

and show off what he's capable of.

0:21:540:21:56

But remember, don't only look at the work -

0:21:560:21:58

TALK to the customer and listen carefully for any alarm bells

0:21:580:22:02

about timekeeping, extra costs and delays.

0:22:020:22:05

Ann was embarrassed to check her builder's references.

0:22:080:22:11

She's learned a very expensive lesson,

0:22:110:22:14

which could have saved her a lot of heartache, not to mention, cash.

0:22:140:22:19

What happens when the builder eventually leaves the site?

0:22:190:22:24

Either you say, "Get out of here," or...

0:22:240:22:26

-The police came.

-The police came?!

0:22:260:22:28

Yeah. I got the police, because he said... I mean, it was like the end.

0:22:280:22:32

I'd driven off thinking, "He's got the property,"

0:22:320:22:35

and I thought, "Don't be stupid - pull yourself together!"

0:22:350:22:38

Drove round the block, pulled up and they were taking radiators off walls

0:22:380:22:42

and loading everything off into their van. So I rang the police.

0:22:420:22:46

I rang the solicitor and she said ring the police.

0:22:460:22:48

Wow! What did the police do?

0:22:480:22:50

The police came and said, "It's a civil matter,

0:22:500:22:52

"you will need to leave the property, hand the keys over,"

0:22:520:22:55

which they did, in the end.

0:22:550:22:57

But by this time they'd got radiators on their van.

0:22:570:23:01

No, they hadn't got very far. They took one of the radiators, that's all.

0:23:010:23:05

Absolute nightmare. It was a total nightmare.

0:23:050:23:08

No need to call the police now. Our guys are on the job.

0:23:100:23:13

Ann's builder left loads of work undone.

0:23:130:23:16

We're helping out by completing the bathroom Ann's been waiting for, for 18 months.

0:23:160:23:21

We've had to hack off all the half-done tiles, because they can't be matched.

0:23:210:23:25

We're making good the walls, ensuring all the seals are watertight,

0:23:250:23:29

before we can finally retile and then install the suite.

0:23:290:23:32

I can't believe what I've heard about Ann's builder's dramatic exit,

0:23:320:23:37

so I wonder what she'd like to say to him now.

0:23:370:23:39

If you had the opportunity to speak to your builder right now, what would you like to say to him?

0:23:390:23:45

What's on your mind?

0:23:450:23:47

I'd like to know why he thinks he's got the right to rip people off like that,

0:23:470:23:51

if he's still doing it to other people.

0:23:510:23:53

So, would you do me the honour of making that phone call

0:23:530:24:00

and let's see what he's got to say for himself?

0:24:000:24:02

I will. It's really scary.

0:24:020:24:04

I haven't spoken to him since the police saw him off the property.

0:24:040:24:08

Incredibly, the builder surprises us and picks up the phone.

0:24:080:24:12

Cowboy Trap are here doing some of the remedial work to the property

0:24:120:24:15

and we'd like to ask you some questions.

0:24:150:24:18

I wanted to know really how many other people

0:24:180:24:20

you've left in this sort of mess and ripped off?

0:24:200:24:23

The builder says all the money was spent on the job

0:24:230:24:26

and there were insufficient funds to finish.

0:24:260:24:28

He claims he also called the police when she asked him to leave.

0:24:280:24:32

Her solicitor spent ten months negotiating to go to arbitration.

0:24:320:24:35

But before that could happen, the builder put the firm into liquidation

0:24:350:24:40

and nothing further could be done.

0:24:400:24:42

It's been a terrible experience.

0:24:420:24:45

Our job now is to continue what we're doing

0:24:450:24:48

and hopefully, later today, I can show you exactly what the good guys really can do.

0:24:480:24:52

-Thank you very much.

-A pleasure.

0:24:520:24:54

Coming up, I hope we can put a smile back on Ann's face.

0:24:540:24:59

Oh, wow!

0:24:590:25:01

Look at this.

0:25:010:25:02

Ann may be desperate for her new shower, but back in Glasgow,

0:25:040:25:08

Jean and Alan are sick of their unwanted shower

0:25:080:25:13

through leaky double glazing in the living room.

0:25:130:25:15

When they bought their house almost five years ago,

0:25:150:25:18

they thought they'd improve it with new windows throughout,

0:25:180:25:21

but the workmanship was so bad, they even had to take one of the windows out and brick it up.

0:25:210:25:26

With all the water pouring in, Jean's decorating dreams are over.

0:25:260:25:31

This bedroom in here, this back bedroom, I was intending to make that into a sitting room.

0:25:310:25:36

Just somewhere I could go with my sisters and friends if they came up,

0:25:360:25:40

if the boys were watching the telly and whatever, you can do a bit of chitchat and whatnot.

0:25:400:25:44

It's not to be, you know. Well, you can see the way it is.

0:25:440:25:48

No wallpaper or anything in it.

0:25:480:25:50

Jean and Alan really need these windows sorting out fast.

0:25:500:25:53

They're dangerous and a disaster just waiting to happen.

0:25:530:25:56

So it's time to bring in the good guys.

0:25:560:25:59

Before our team get started replacing those awful windows,

0:26:070:26:11

I want to get the verdict of an independent inspector.

0:26:110:26:14

You've had chance to have a good look around the property.

0:26:140:26:17

What's your first feeling? What have you found that's not to your liking?

0:26:170:26:21

There's three points that come to my immediate attention.

0:26:210:26:24

-Yeah.

-And the first one is the poor quality of the windows.

0:26:240:26:27

You can see that the double-glazing unit has failed here,

0:26:270:26:30

the seal between the two panes of glass has broken down,

0:26:300:26:35

so the double-glazing unit is ineffective now.

0:26:350:26:37

-Yeah.

-The second point that's raised my attention, Clive,

0:26:370:26:41

-is how poorly they've been fitted.

-Right.

0:26:410:26:43

You can see the large space here on the internal face of the window.

0:26:430:26:47

-The window's been fitted too close to the outside wall.

-OK.

0:26:470:26:51

-So it should have been fitted further back.

-That's correct.

0:26:510:26:54

It should have been recessed back a bit to prevent the bad weather hitting the window.

0:26:540:26:59

The third most important point is, these windows have been fitted without a means of escape.

0:26:590:27:05

-One of the windows upstairs should be a fire-escape window.

-Yeah.

0:27:050:27:10

If there's a fire downstairs and you waken up in the middle of the night,

0:27:100:27:13

and you try to get out of this window, it's very difficult

0:27:130:27:16

-because we have a restricted hopper here, which is at a high level.

-Yeah.

0:27:160:27:20

Very difficult to open.

0:27:200:27:22

-No chance.

-You'd have no chance to get out.

-I'd get just my arm out of that.

0:27:220:27:26

So, Danny, let's cut to the chase, what mark out of ten

0:27:260:27:30

would you give these guys for the work they've carried out and why?

0:27:300:27:34

Clive, it would be a very poor two,

0:27:340:27:36

due to the poor workmanship, the poor quality and the danger with no means of escape.

0:27:360:27:42

Two out of ten!

0:27:420:27:45

Now, by anyone's standards, that's not amazing for glazing.

0:27:450:27:49

We've got the good guys here to right all the wrongs.

0:27:510:27:55

Jimmy's leading our job today, so what's the plan?

0:27:550:27:59

Just tell me what the plan of action is.

0:27:590:28:01

-Take the brickwork out the landing window.

-Great.

0:28:010:28:04

Get the window fitted. Get it finished off.

0:28:040:28:06

Also, hopefully, we'll get the plasterwork done in the back bedroom,

0:28:060:28:10

fit the back room, so that we're ready for painting tomorrow. We can get heaters in tonight.

0:28:100:28:15

And tomorrow, front windows done,

0:28:150:28:18

the bedrooms up the stairs, get them changed to be able to fire-escape

0:28:180:28:22

-and be able to clean from inside.

-Fantastic.

0:28:220:28:24

So, are you saying that I will be able to show Alan and Jean your wonderful work by tomorrow evening?

0:28:240:28:31

-Definitely.

-That sounds like a deal. That is a deal, son!

0:28:310:28:35

Jean's been really upset by the damage the leaky windows do to her decorations,

0:28:350:28:40

so I'm glad we can finally fix up that back room for her too.

0:28:400:28:45

She's always stressed because of it.

0:28:450:28:49

The minute you see a cloud,

0:28:490:28:51

Jean starts to get worried about it.

0:28:510:28:54

The minute there's a cloud, she starts going, "You think it's going to rain?"

0:28:540:28:58

Nobody shouldn't care that much about the weather.

0:28:580:29:01

Jean works for the local council as a support worker.

0:29:020:29:06

Now, this is no joke.

0:29:060:29:07

When the rain is forecast,

0:29:070:29:09

she pops home in her breaks to move her furniture away from the leaky windows.

0:29:090:29:14

When there's bad weather, the rain, the wind,

0:29:140:29:16

and I'm in this area working,

0:29:160:29:19

I nip home and move my two-seater sofa away from the bay window

0:29:190:29:23

and I put some towels down on the window ledges

0:29:230:29:26

and some pots and pans and buckets, so that, if it is coming in heavy,

0:29:260:29:31

it's landing in this, rather than landing on my sofa.

0:29:310:29:34

You're trying to protect your laminated floor.

0:29:340:29:36

With heavy rain come heavy hearts.

0:29:360:29:39

Over the last four years,

0:29:390:29:40

the problems with their home have been hard for Jean Alan to cope with.

0:29:400:29:44

Sometimes I end up in tears and then I phone Alan up at work

0:29:440:29:48

and I'm, "Oh..." Shouting down the phone to Alan as if it's Alan's fault, you know.

0:29:480:29:52

And it's not his fault either, do you know what I mean, cos he got taken in just the same as myself, you know.

0:29:520:29:58

But it's very soul-destroying.

0:29:580:30:00

It's not just the property, though, is it? It's damaging you.

0:30:000:30:03

-Aye.

-It's damaging you as people

0:30:030:30:05

because, you know, you can be, as I say, maybe sitting down stressed out in separate rooms

0:30:050:30:11

cos you've had an argument over what these people have caused in the first place.

0:30:110:30:15

It affects the whole family. It affects your whole home-life.

0:30:150:30:18

It probably sounds dead melodramatic, but it does.

0:30:180:30:21

I agree with you.

0:30:210:30:22

'These window fitters have caused Jean and Alan a lot of pain.'

0:30:220:30:26

Jean's dream of creating her own special snug lies abandoned.

0:30:260:30:31

They've put up with these problems way too long.

0:30:310:30:34

Take my tip.

0:30:340:30:36

If, like Jean and Alan, you have problems with building work,

0:30:360:30:40

contact Consumer Direct.

0:30:400:30:42

They can provide free advice to resolve your problem

0:30:420:30:45

and even help you take the builder to court.

0:30:450:30:48

When the McCabes got in touch, they discovered they weren't the first.

0:30:480:30:52

No need to phone their builder.

0:30:520:30:54

He's been dealt with in court by the local trading standards officer.

0:30:540:30:58

In 2005, South Lanarkshire Council trading standards

0:30:580:31:01

was investigating the company behind this particular job.

0:31:010:31:05

And we were already in receipt of several hundred complaints against the business.

0:31:050:31:09

When trading standards took the contractor through the Scottish courts,

0:31:090:31:13

he gave a written assurance that their standards would improve.

0:31:130:31:19

Because the people behind this business gave written assurances to the Court Of Session,

0:31:190:31:23

then should, at any point in the future, they breach those assurances,

0:31:230:31:27

then that would be deemed to be potentially a contempt of court,

0:31:270:31:32

which is punishable by either a fine and/or imprisonment.

0:31:320:31:36

Trading standards are monitoring those assurances are kept very carefully.

0:31:360:31:41

So, for them, the case is ongoing.

0:31:410:31:44

But I've got a message for cowboy builders everywhere.

0:31:440:31:47

You know who you are and now we know who you are, and we've cottoned on to your tricks.

0:31:480:31:53

We're going to prevent others from falling into your trap.

0:31:530:31:57

Fortunately for Jean and Alan, we've got the good guys in, putting right all the damage.

0:31:570:32:03

Coming up, Jean and Alan's leaky windows have driven them to debt.

0:32:030:32:08

We didn't know it was the windows. We thought it was the roof.

0:32:080:32:11

It cost us five grand to get a new roof on it.

0:32:110:32:14

Meanwhile, back in Dorset,

0:32:160:32:18

our good guys are hard at work completing teacher, Ann Yates' shower room.

0:32:180:32:22

There's been a lot to do because her builder left it without water or drainage and the tiling unfinished.

0:32:220:32:29

We couldn't match the tiles, so we've had to hack back, make good and then retile the walls.

0:32:290:32:34

We've had to fit a door and frame, extractor fan and now we can finally get the suite installed.

0:32:340:32:41

-Ah, Dave, you have come on a real pace in here, mate.

-Yeah. It's come on in leaps and bounds.

0:32:410:32:47

It's looking really good. But what is the rest of the plan for today?

0:32:470:32:51

Finish the tiling off in the next few hours.

0:32:510:32:53

-Then we'll dry-fit the basin and toilet.

-Yep.

0:32:530:32:56

Shower screen. Then take all that out again and grout.

0:32:560:33:00

Obviously, let that go off, then refit all the suite and job done.

0:33:000:33:05

Job sounds like it's going to be a good 'un.

0:33:050:33:07

Ann's builder took £55,000 to build a three-bed loft conversion and fit a new kitchen and bathroom.

0:33:080:33:15

But after a series of problems, Ann refused to hand over any more money to fix them.

0:33:150:33:20

She was left with no kitchen or shower, no electricity or water and the job unfinished.

0:33:200:33:26

I'm sure Ann's learned some hard lessons from this terrible episode.

0:33:260:33:30

What have you learned

0:33:300:33:32

from this whole experience?

0:33:320:33:34

Get three quotes.

0:33:340:33:36

Be a lot more tight on monitoring on what builders are doing.

0:33:360:33:41

-What was it like before we arrived?

-It didn't work.

0:33:410:33:45

-It was not functional, just a storeroom.

-Tiling half-done.

0:33:450:33:48

Tiling half-done and a storeroom.

0:33:480:33:50

So, what are you hoping for?

0:33:500:33:52

Oh, a shower! A working shower would just be wonderful.

0:33:520:33:56

-OK. So, are you ready?

-I am.

0:33:560:33:59

OK. So without further ado, let's go through.

0:33:590:34:04

Oh, wow! Look at this.

0:34:050:34:08

They've done a cracking job, haven't they?

0:34:100:34:12

Look at this. This is fantastic.

0:34:120:34:14

You've got your shower. You've got your toilet. You've got the sink.

0:34:140:34:19

-Yeah.

-Of course, all the wonderful tiling, as well.

0:34:190:34:22

-It's lovely, isn't it?

-They have done a fantastic job.

0:34:220:34:25

Fantastic. I can't wait!

0:34:250:34:27

And it is a functional shower room now and toilet facility.

0:34:270:34:31

You know what, I think this is the only part of the house that is something like what I asked for.

0:34:310:34:37

The good guys have done an amazing job.

0:34:370:34:41

We've had to go right back to basics.

0:34:410:34:43

There was no water plumbed in, no drainage and the tiles only half covered the walls.

0:34:430:34:48

We've stripped back, before retiling in this classic neutral colour scheme,

0:34:480:34:53

which perfectly sets off the stylish glass and chrome shower enclosure, and shiny heated towel warmer.

0:34:530:34:59

We've paid full attention to the details too, installing an extractor fan and fitting a new door.

0:34:590:35:06

This is exactly the kind of finish you can expect when you get the professionals in.

0:35:060:35:10

Finally, Ann can invite her daughter, Louisa and grandson, Dante over to stay.

0:35:100:35:15

Here they are to see the finished results.

0:35:150:35:17

Dante, what do you think? Look at this.

0:35:170:35:21

What do you think? Isn't it lovely?

0:35:210:35:26

Even Poppy's come in. OK, guys. I'm going to leave you in the comfort of your brand new shower room.

0:35:260:35:32

-Fantastic.

-All right. And I'm really chuffed you like it.

0:35:320:35:35

It's gorgeous. I'm really, really pleased.

0:35:350:35:37

-Fantastic.

-Well worth the effort.

0:35:370:35:39

-Good luck for the future.

-Thank you very much.

0:35:390:35:42

-And no more cowboys.

-No. No more cowboys.

0:35:420:35:44

-All right. See you soon.

-Thank you.

0:35:440:35:46

-See you, Dante. Bye.

-Say bye-bye.

-Bye.

0:35:460:35:49

We're heading north again now.

0:35:510:35:54

Let's see if we can bring some smiles to Jean and Alan McCabe

0:35:540:35:57

at the other end of the UK, in Glasgow.

0:35:570:36:00

Their windows were a double disaster.

0:36:000:36:02

Not only were they expensive, but they leaked so badly,

0:36:020:36:05

the rain came in and ruined some of the furniture and decor too.

0:36:050:36:10

One window was so bad, Alan even bricked it up.

0:36:100:36:13

Finally, the McCabes can kiss goodbye to their crazy glazing

0:36:130:36:17

because the good guys are fitting new windows now

0:36:170:36:21

and letting the light flood back in to the bricked up landing.

0:36:210:36:25

-Here he is, beavering away. How are you, Jim?

-How you doing?

0:36:260:36:29

All right, mate. Day two and things are looking pretty smart already.

0:36:290:36:33

I can see you've got the window in on the landing.

0:36:330:36:36

-Yep.

-Loads more light coming in now.

0:36:360:36:38

What have you done altogether so far? I can see there's loads, but just explain to us.

0:36:380:36:42

What you've got left to do, and any problems you've come across.

0:36:420:36:46

-Yesterday, I got the plasterwork done.

-Yeah

0:36:460:36:48

Just waiting for it to dry out, just not quite there yet.

0:36:480:36:51

Painters were in this morning, checked, just needs a wee couple of hours yet

0:36:510:36:55

to get it dried before they start. Three coats going on it.

0:36:550:36:58

We've got to start taking the front bedroom out, two windows going in there shortly.

0:36:580:37:03

-OK.

-This one in and then finishings.

0:37:030:37:05

Brilliant, mate. It's already looking quite good, I must admit.

0:37:050:37:09

Well played, Jim. See you, mate.

0:37:090:37:11

These new windows will bring much-longed-for light

0:37:110:37:14

into the shadows cast by those cowboy contractors.

0:37:140:37:18

And Jean and Alan can stop spending hard-earned cash on window sealant.

0:37:180:37:22

All we did the last four-and-a-half years is buy window sealant.

0:37:220:37:27

We should have a share in that company because this whole house is held together with window sealant!

0:37:270:37:32

Window sealant, so it is.

0:37:320:37:34

But sealant would never work because the windows weren't fitted right in the first place,

0:37:340:37:39

so the rain would keep coming in, ruining their home.

0:37:390:37:43

Jean and Alan have redecorated each room four times in the last four years,

0:37:430:37:48

with new curtains, blinds and wallpaper each time.

0:37:480:37:53

Having forked out well over ten grand,

0:37:530:37:55

I want to find out if Jean and Alan have got any advice

0:37:550:37:58

to help others from getting into a similar situation.

0:37:580:38:02

Tell us exactly what you've learned and what you're hoping you'll be able to help others with.

0:38:020:38:08

Personally, I've learned not to trust builders and whatnot in your house.

0:38:080:38:12

Do a bit of research on them.

0:38:120:38:14

Go and check out references, jobs.

0:38:140:38:17

Look at what they've done before you part with hard-earned cash cos once you've parted with it,

0:38:170:38:22

they're not interested if there's any sort of faults with the work that they've done.

0:38:220:38:26

What was it like before we arrived?

0:38:260:38:29

Just describe what the problems were.

0:38:290:38:32

Well, most of the windows were leaking,

0:38:320:38:34

full of condensation the actual inside of the actual double-glazing units.

0:38:340:38:41

They were all misted up. You couldn't even see the other side of the street.

0:38:410:38:45

The window ledges were full of kitchen towels and whatnot, do you know what I mean?

0:38:450:38:49

To try and catch any water that was coming in. It was actually...a mess.

0:38:490:38:53

What are you hoping for?

0:38:530:38:55

To be able to see out my windows and be able to...

0:38:550:38:57

..sleep nice at night

0:38:580:39:00

when it's not raining, without having to break my sleep

0:39:000:39:03

and get up and make sure nowhere's soaking.

0:39:030:39:07

-This is the exciting bit for me. Are you excited?

-Yeah.

0:39:070:39:10

-Yeah?

-Sure am.

-Good.

0:39:100:39:13

-Shall we take a look?

-Let's go.

-Come on. Follow me.

0:39:130:39:15

Upstairs, we've removed those bricks and fitted a brand new window.

0:39:170:39:21

Now, the first thing you notice...

0:39:210:39:24

-A window.

-A window.

-And daylight.

0:39:240:39:26

Natural daylight. What a difference that makes!

0:39:260:39:29

-Great. Excellent. Excellent.

-They've done a lovely job.

-They have.

0:39:290:39:33

-All round the reveals there, as you can see, it's fantastic. I'm loving that window.

-Me too.

0:39:330:39:38

It's a real feature, isn't it?

0:39:380:39:40

Great. Excellent. Absolutely smashing.

0:39:400:39:43

We'll look at another one. Let's see what's happened in your bedroom.

0:39:430:39:46

Come on. Check this out.

0:39:490:39:52

Excellent. God, I can see the other side of the street!

0:39:540:39:59

The corners there are amazing.

0:39:590:40:01

-Now, hopefully, we'll never have an emergency.

-No.

0:40:010:40:05

-But if we do...

-Open one.

0:40:050:40:07

So the half-turn gives you the tilt.

0:40:090:40:11

All right. The full-turn, that gives you the window wide open.

0:40:110:40:16

There we go. Amazing.

0:40:160:40:18

Our team of good guys have done an amazing job with the glazing.

0:40:180:40:22

Before, the windows leaked like crazy.

0:40:220:40:25

The one on the landing was so bad, Alan bricked it up.

0:40:250:40:28

And in the master bedroom, the windows were so misty, the blinds were rarely opened.

0:40:280:40:34

Now they need never be kept shut again, because we fitted these clear, new condensation-free panels.

0:40:340:40:39

They're safe as houses, too, because the windows open wide to escape if there's a fire.

0:40:390:40:45

Thanks to our good guys, the McCabes have new energy-efficient glass throughout their home.

0:40:450:40:50

And that dark brickwork has been removed to allow the light back in to Jean and Alan's lives.

0:40:500:40:56

There's an even bigger surprise for Jean downstairs.

0:40:570:41:00

The unused back room that's usually kept closed, is opened up, ready for Jean to entertain.

0:41:000:41:06

Wow!

0:41:080:41:09

That is excellent! It's absolutely excellent.

0:41:110:41:15

Nice smooth walls. They're lovely.

0:41:150:41:17

And what a nice finish. Really, absolutely excellent. Honestly.

0:41:170:41:20

At the moment, you've got to say that is a massive difference.

0:41:200:41:24

Oh, God. Excellent. So I'm going to be getting myself a little sofa

0:41:240:41:29

and a TV and this is going to be called Jean's World!

0:41:290:41:34

-THEY LAUGH

-Jean's World!

0:41:340:41:35

This is my chill-out room. This is what it's going to be. Excellent.

0:41:350:41:39

I can't argue with her.

0:41:390:41:40

I wouldn't. I wouldn't argue with her.

0:41:400:41:43

Downstairs, the back room was always kept shut to hide the unsightly damp walls,

0:41:440:41:50

but now Jean can banish the pots and pans and paper towels

0:41:500:41:53

because the rain isn't coming in here again.

0:41:530:41:57

With the freshly plastered and painted walls,

0:41:590:42:01

Jean's already got plans to transform this into her own special world.

0:42:010:42:08

On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you?

0:42:080:42:10

11.

0:42:100:42:11

I'm liking that!

0:42:130:42:14

Well, after five years of living in a mess left behind by cowboy builders,

0:42:140:42:20

the McCabes can finally sleep well at night, thanks to our good guys.

0:42:200:42:24

But remember, take on board all our advice and stay alert

0:42:240:42:27

and that way, you won't get caught in the Cowboy Trap.

0:42:270:42:31

If you've had a problem with builders,

0:42:310:42:34

and would like to tell your story on Cowboy Trap,

0:42:340:42:37

then please call us.

0:42:370:42:38

Or you can send us an e-mail.

0:42:460:42:48

Help us round up the cowboys.

0:42:510:42:54

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:160:43:19

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:190:43:22

Clive Holland has help and advice for homeowners who have fallen victim to cowboy builders. We're in Dorset to help finish a teacher's abandoned extension, and in Glasgow to investigate double glazing that leaks every time it rains.