Consumer series. Clive Holland visits Eltham to help a family that was forced to learn how to build their own extension after the builder ran off with their savings.
Browse content similar to Episode 4. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Cowboy builders and rogue traders cost UK homeowners
tens of millions of pounds every year.
And they keep getting away with it.
Just knowing that I've paid out a lot of money to someone I trusted
and not been able to get hold of him to come and finish it.
I'm so appalled at the level of bad building practices that go on up and down the country
and the total lack of respect that cowboy builders have for homeowners' dreams and their cash.
It's unsettling because you can't see how you're going to fix it.
We're not rich. We can't just go to another builder and ask them to carry on.
I can't bear to see these so-called builders getting away with it.
It's time to lend a helping hand to those who have fallen foul of their dirty tricks.
-Oh, it's lovely.
-It really does look beautiful.
If you take on board all our advice and top tips, we can prevent you from falling into the cowboy trap,
and swing the balance back in favour of you, the homeowner.
Today on Cowboy Trap we're in the London borough of Greenwich
where time stands still for a family left with a horrible mess instead of a house extension
-and an absent builder who needs to learn a lesson.
-I would love to look him in the face
and just ask him how you can do that.
-Because I feel sorry for him in that sense...
But he needs to be stopped.
When Janna and John were expecting their third child, they decided to build a new extension.
They booked a builder to do it for £38,000 in three months, but they were left with a nightmare.
We were left with no garage, a kitchen the size of a large larder or a small downstairs toilet
and then we had blockwork walls, which was one wall at the front
and basically these walls at the back.
Later, we'll meet Carol Alley in Redditch with her daughter Kirsty.
Carol is about to go into hospital for some serious operations that will leave her immobile,
so she desperately needs a new en suite bedroom, wheelchair-friendly,
but all Carol got was a botched job and a builder who just didn't care.
You don't want them to leave because you want them to finish
but you don't want to be spoken to that way.
In the end, I did say to him I wasn't going to be held to ransom
or give him any more money until I could see things were moving on a bit better.
He just turned his back on me and walked off.
But first we're in Greenwich where local evangelical pastor John Watson and his wife, Janna,
live with their three children. When Janna was eight months pregnant with their youngest, Benjamin,
they decided to extend their property for extra space.
We envisioned us where I'd be in the kitchen
and the children would be playing and rather than a separate room, we'd all be together.
Janna and John planned to build an extension and convert the garage into the extra rooms they needed,
but then it became clear the garage wasn't good enough to keep. Their builder suggested they knock it down
and build a whole new two-storey extension at a cut down price
in exchange for some publicity shots of the finished job.
If we agreed to some photos and some things, just to make an effort,
he would do the garage as well and he would put in some fancy concertina doors that were special.
Janna and John would get a brand spanking new extension including a new kitchen and a playroom.
Everything they needed for their two kids and the one on the way for just over £38,000.
He basically offered to do everything that we wanted to do,
which originally we didn't think we could afford, but he was doing this special deal for us.
We were really overwhelmed by that and went for it all guns blazing.
Hang on a minute. Warning bells should be ringing.
Beware of special deal offers.
They are most often a ruse to get a large sum upfront.
Good builders get work from a number of satisfied customers.
So no need for promotional deals.
However, John did book the builder and within two months
work had halted and the cowboy had disappeared off with 38 grand,
leaving John and Janna, their two kids and tiny new baby Benjamin in an uninhabitable building site.
It was just a mass shock. It still is. I don't think we'll ever get over the money he's taken from us.
It seems that Janna and John were really taken for a ride.
They kept their end of the bargain, but a bargain they didn't get.
A year after hiring their builder for their dream extension,
all they had was a big hole in the garden and a bigger one at the bank.
Time for me to take a look at the evidence for myself.
-How are you?
-I hear you've had cowboy builders.
-We have, yeah.
-Want to show me around the damage?
-Come on in.
-So this is where it's all been happening.
Just looking at that blockwork, it catches my eye.
-That is a real mess.
-You're looking at it now and can see
a lot of this work is really quite poor.
-It must have been frightening. There must have been a stage where you thought this isn't going right.
It looks a mess to the naked eye.
At the time, you don't know what it is you should expect. It's only because we've had others come round.
To me, I just thought they haven't finished it and maybe they do something afterwards.
-So when they left on that day, you thought, "They'll finish that off."
'The brickwork may be well dodgy, but the roof has actually been built to a good standard.
'That's because it wasn't built by the cowboy builders.
'They left it completely open to the elements.'
-So was all this exposed for nearly a year?
-Yeah. Absolutely nothing.
We were stuck in a cupboard that was a kitchen for, well, two and a half years.
'Those heartless builders just didn't care, but luckily John's dad Terry did.'
We were having a coffee and I said to John,
"Why don't we do a week? I'll come round one day a week."
So we agreed that every week we would do a day's work together.
It was quite challenging when you haven't done it for some time
and vowed many years ago that you wouldn't want to do it again, being now retired.
But anyway we did and we began to do the work together.
'It took them two years, but John and Terry have done an amazing job of putting the roof on.
'Now this family needs some help with the next stage.'
-Just to get you started, what would you like us to do?
-We set some goals
and the main goal was we wanted this insulated by the winter.
All the walls need insulated and that was our goal.
-That, really, would be amazing if you could do that for us.
'That's no easy task, but when good people call for help we're here to do just that.'
I can't believe the mess this builder left behind. It took almost two years just to get it to this.
But the good guys are here. Time to get the show on the road.
'Coming up. What does John want to say to his cowboy builder?'
So where did the money go, then? I know from us you received about £30,000.
'Meanwhile, in Redditch, Carol Alley desperately needs a wheelchair-friendly bedroom
'and bathroom because of serious long-term health problems.'
I was born with club feet and started to develop a lot of pain when I got to about 40.
I've got degenerative arthritis.
'Carol has two imminent major operations on her feet,
'which will leave her wheelchair-bound for a year
'so she planned to convert her garage into a bedroom and bathroom.'
I'd got a garage I didn't use and thought I'd have my bedroom and an en suite there.
I talked to the council and they said I could have a grant, but it wasn't until April, 2010.
That was halfway through my operations and I needed it before then.
So I remortgaged and talked to quite a few builders,
picked a builder to start work.
'Initially, work started well. It seemed the builder would complete the job properly and on time.'
Week one was digging footings for the extension
and I was happy with that so I paid at the end of the week.
And it seemed fine up until, say, week three
when I started noticing things he said he'd do, but hadn't done.
'The builder made a catalogue of errors, including a wrong-shaped door in the wrong place
'not wide enough for a wheelchair, and floors finished at different levels, making problems for access.'
You have to step up into it rather than flush level with the rest of the house.
I was told that was how it would be, that it would be all one level and I'd be able to move round it
in a wheelchair without any trouble if I needed to.
'Carol became increasingly worried and called in a building inspector who put his concerns
'to the builder in question and in writing, but this bully builder didn't take criticism well.'
When I asked him about any issues he swore at me.
And said that if I didn't shut up he was going to walk off anyway,
which worried me because I needed it finished for my next operation which was due in October last year,
which I cancelled because I wasn't ready.
In the end, I did say to him I wasn't going to be held to ransom or give him any more money
until I could see things moving on a bit better.
He just turned and walked off.
With Carol's surgery only days away, this job has become an emergency
and there's no time to waste, so I'm going in to survey the damage for myself.
-I hear you've had bad builders.
-Do you want to show me around?
-Yeah, come on in.
-This door doesn't shut unless you jiggle it about a bit.
-Jiggle your door about?
-The ramp is because you need your wheelchair?
-It was supposed to be all one level.
My only other concern is... See how wide I am? I'm about 750mm.
-Shoulder to shoulder.
-Can you get through?
-Well, let's have a look.
Yeah, I'm about 750mm, shoulder to shoulder. That tells me...
-I don't think you're going to get a wheelchair through there.
-No without catching my hands on the doorframe.
-It goes narrower as it goes down.
-Right. It should be at least another 100mm wider, for sure,
-to take your... Did he not realise that?
-He did know. He knew all about my wheelchair.
He knew that I needed the flat level. He said that was what I'd get and my doors would be wide enough.
'When Carol comes back from her operation, she won't be able to walk for some time,
'so she'll need to get in and out of this door as easily as possible and with her knuckles intact.'
-Don't forget you've got a real high ramp there, too.
-A ramp to get down and then to stop myself.
You're definitely going to catch your knuckles on that door.
-This is very close.
-It is. I don't want you to go any further now.
'There's a standard measurement for internal door widths for a wheelchair.
'Any builder worth their salt should know this. And inside the bedroom there's another problem.'
What happened with the sill? He's used plasterboard.
This hadn't been sealed, so I had to get a company out to seal it. Some of these were broken.
-I had to pay them to put those in.
-He fitted them broken?
-'The bathroom door's not looking much better, either.'
-He did go out and buy this door,
-but it didn't fit the frame.
-Dare I have a look behind here?
-I don't think you ought to!
-..No, it's not.
-No, it's not.
-No, it's not!
We know the plumbing doesn't work properly. It's been mended a few times.
-The water has to come up before it goes out.
-How? That's hideous!
-Who dreams these things?
-I don't know.
-So the water would have stayed in that pipe.
-It stays in that pipe.
Something else I've noticed there. That light fitting is a no no.
That baton holder there, it has to have an IP rating, it has to have weather protection
because of the steam and moisture.
Get safe lighting for bathrooms.
Electricity and water don't mix so special rules apply.
Light fittings needs to be protected from moisture, so no light switches,
only pull cords. And no plug sockets. Only shaver points.
I have to also mention one thing that bothers me.
Because the door opens inwards, if anyone falls behind that door,
-slip out of the shower...
-I'd not thought of that at all.
You can't get to anybody if you're trying to push that door. I'd like to see that door reversed.
Step inside there a minute.
The thing is, I can always check that you're all right
by saying... how many fingers can you see?
Four! I can see four.
-Is that to let steam out, is it?
If you asked your builder that, he would definitely say yes.
In real terms, what would you like us to do to make life better for you?
-What would you like us to do?
-I go into hospital in 14 days' time.
-And I'll be off my feet for 12 weeks, to finish my right leg before my left leg is done.
There's another 32 weeks for that. I need to know I've got a year and a half that I can be in here
in my bathroom, in my loo and bedroom...just finished, so I haven't got to worry any more.
'With the first operation just days away, time is of the essence.
'We need to get this place working for Carol ASAP.
'Her abusive builder botched every area where access and function were an issue
'and piled a load of stress onto poor Carol. And for all this she forked out £8,500,
'plus an extra £2,500 in remedial work since.
'So 11 grand later, Carol is no closer to getting the downstairs en suite bedroom
'she'll desperately need when she comes out of hospital.'
I can't believe this shameful builder would leave someone so vulnerable in such a state.
Carol has suffered a lifetime of pain and this builder has only added to it,
but it's time to bring on the good guys and put a smile back on her face.
'Coming up - I discover that Carol's daughter Kirsty has her own ideas to make her mum's new bedroom perfect.'
-Got any idea about wallpaper?
-I've got some.
'Back in Greenwich, John and Janna Watson are still living with a 32 grand breezeblock shell
'where there should be a fantastic new kitchen and family playroom.
'John and his dad have worked on it, but they still need help.
'Before our good guys really get stuck in, we've invited an independent building inspector
'to get his view on this woeful extension.'
Out of level. That is significantly out of level.
If you had been a trainee bricklayer, yeah.
-A trainee couldn't be proud of that.
-No, he wouldn't be.
The one thing that really concerned me was exposed electrical fittings,
which I understand were being used to power the site tools.
Totally unacceptable and dangerous.
As our independent chartered surveyor, I'd like you to give it a mark out of ten.
Being generous, I'd give it ten.
We'll give him four for turning up.
'I think Arnold's being very charitable. There's been a lot of building work and materials used,
'but not to any reasonable end. Remember the roof, windows and doors which are in place
'are remedial work done since by John and his father Terry.
'How did these good people get into such a bad mess with their cowboy builder?'
John, how did you go about finding your builder?
I used the internet and looked for local companies, read a bit on their website.
As they were local, I thought they've got an office, best place to start.
OK. Did you do any background research on the builder before you accepted the quote?
No, I didn't, actually. It started by him coming round.
He did a model and showed us what he could do.
And the price was good. The price fitted within our budget.
What made you feel confident in this particular builder,
made you feel he was the right guy?
It sounds really silly, but it was just the way that he was.
It was the way that he...
-He seemed a nice guy.
-He seemed reliable.
He was in a pinstripe suit, he talked about his family.
He saw that we had a family.
In a sense, you kind of feel like there's something... you're getting on with someone.
That's where maybe you let your guard down a bit.
They tend to be great with the dialogue, but I can see you're really upset, Janna.
I do not want to upset you. What people don't see is that emotion,
bringing back those memories of, "Why did we decide on this builder?" I can understand that.
Research your builders!
Friendly banter, a smart suit and a cheap quote do not make
for a reliable professional.
Research their previous work, get references
and check he is qualified to do the jobs.
'John and Janna took far too much on face value. They clearly liked this cowboy's smooth manner
'and his offer to give them their dream at a knockdown price.
'Luckily, our team of good guys, led by Martin Houghton,
'have a rescue plan to get this home extension back on its feet.'
-The plan is to make it liveable.
-Yeah. I agree with that!
Plasterboard up, ceilings, all the walls, then plaster skim it.
-Have you seen any potential problems?
-Yeah, we've got a few. I can't see the rafters on the ceiling.
So fixing plasterboard to it is going to be a bit tricky, but we'll get there.
I've got markings for them.
'Our good guys are getting stuck in where the cowboys struck out.
'We're going to pick up where John and his dad left off to make this feel like part of the house,
'insulate the roof and give those walls a smooth finish.
'Meanwhile, I want to find out what their cowboy has to say.'
If I was to say to you have an opportunity to speak to him now,
-you've got his number, would you be happy to do that?
The phone's there for you, John. Just stay calm, keep it nice and succinct
and ask those questions, and hopefully you'll get some much-needed answers.
'Amazingly, the builder actually answers his phone and John's not afraid to take him on.'
The reason I'm calling is to ask you a couple of questions. You know things ended quite badly.
We're now taking it on ourselves and the only way we've been able to do the build
is because friends and family helped us and have given us money.
And we're finding problems with the build. So where did the money go?
I know from us you received about £30,000.
'The builder claims that all the money paid by John and Janna is accounted for in the work done,
'but it's hard to see where exactly.
'Pastor John, ever the man of peace, wants to find out if this cowboy has learned and moved on.'
My biggest question is for you, one, have you learnt from it
-and, two, are you doing things differently or doing the same thing with others?
-'This cowboy was surprisingly willing to talk - until I wanted to talk to him.'
This is Clive Holland from BBC's Cowboy Trap.
We're here to try and help...
The phone's gone dead.
Basically, what he's saying is that he's not a cowboy.
That guy is a cowboy. No two ways about it.
'Fortunately for this cowboy conman, our pastor is a more forgiving guy than me.
'John and Janna have decided to limit their stress by not pursuing him for money
'and to concentrate on the future.
'I can't resist a little sneak peek to see how we're getting on.'
-Is that the right consistency?
-It looks good.
You've been really cracking on. Just tell me what the plan is.
-OK, what we've been doing is we've secondary insulated the ceilings and plasterboarded it.
We've done it to the walls as well, so yeah, we're doing well.
-In terms of days, how long is it going to take?
-A couple of days. A good couple of days.
-To get it sorted.
-OK, cool. I'll catch up with you.
-Carry on the good work and thanks very much.
'Coming up - John, Janna and the kids finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
'Up the motorway, Carol Alley and her daughter, Kirsty, are stuck with a wonky extension
'that Carol won't be able to use after her operations. Worse still,
'she's 11 grand out of pocket thanks to a careless cowboy.
'Independent building surveyor Nigel Mason can't believe the wheelchair access blunders the builder made.'
Particularly with the lady's disability, the door frame is not put in square for a start.
There's 10mm difference from top to bottom. It doesn't close properly.
And it should be another 100mm wider.
It's 750. For wheelchair access it really should be 850.
I'm also a little bit baffled by the fact that the original garage floor would have been lower.
-Yes, it would have been. So what happened to all that?
-Why is it higher? God only knows.
'Nigel's even less impressed with the bodged en suite plumbing.
'Surely every builder knows waste water won't flow uphill.'
The shower tray being raised up -
-ironically, there's the waste from the shower.
-Which means the water is not going to go anywhere.
-No, it's going to stop in the pipe.
-It'll stop in the pipe, stink.
My final question to you, then, Nigel, would be if you were giving this guy a mark out of ten
for the work he carried out, what would your score be?
Particularly having seen the money that the owner shelled out so far,
-I would give it three out of ten.
-I think that's really generous.
'So Carol's been left with an extension where the doors are too narrow for her wheelchair,
'there's an unnecessary ramp, no windowsill, a door's too short
'and the shower won't drain.
'Did Carol make any avoidable mistakes when she picked this guy?'
How did you find the builder?
Er, I went on the list from the council.
-And went down the list and picked out a few builders, phoned them up.
-How many builders?
The fourth builder, the one that I chose, was recommended by a friend.
-He'd seen his work before and he'd been recommended by him.
And the pair of them sat down with me and talked, went over the project,
and this builder seemed to know exactly what I needed.
And the price was £10,000.
I went out to look at his work. They wouldn't let me in the property,
but they did say he'd worked on that project and they had no problems.
-I thought I got it right.
You know, you're ticking all the boxes.
'Carol did pretty much everything by the book. She was just very unlucky.'
If you're worried about the state and progress of the job,
contact Trading Standards for help.
Your cowboy may be a serial offender.
Alerting the authorities could protect other potential victims.
'Carol's job initially began well.
'Work promised for the end of the first few weeks was completed, so Carol paid a further instalment
'but then her builder started going off plan.'
I wasn't happy with where the door had been cut through. I'd spoken to the builder.
I said, "I think you've put the door in the wrong place. You've moved my radiator and put it there."
And he told me I was talking a load of rubbish, that was where he had showed me
and I wouldn't have had my sockets put anywhere else if that's where the door was going to be.
I phoned the building inspector and he came out and looked over it. He said he wasn't happy.
-He gave it the thumbs down, big style.
-He said, "I'll come out tomorrow and talk to the builder."
'Luckily, our cracking team of good guys are hard at it already. Rob Keen is in charge.'
What is the plan to put this all right?
-OK, what we're going to do first is take the doorways out.
The building inspector is going to come back.
We're going to take the frame out. Obviously, the door has to be wider to get a wheelchair through the door.
-Critical. It's only 750 at the moment and it needs 850 minimum.
There was no evidence of a lintel put into the brickwork,
so we'll strip that out, get the inspector so he can have a look
and once he okays it, we'll see the bearings are OK.
-If we can, we'll extend it. If we can't, we'll put new lintels in.
'And, of course, our guys are going to sort out Carol's dodgy bathroom,
'get that door opening safely outwards, install correct light fittings, get it tiled and sealed
'and a waste pipe that's fit for flushing purpose.'
Just shut the old wibbly-wobbly door. I love it when the good guys are in town.
I can't wait to catch up with them later to see how well they're doing.
'Carol's been under great stress. She really didn't need her new en suite bedroom to be botched
'and she certainly didn't need abuse from her cowboy builder after complaining about very poor work.
'I want Carol to try one last time to contact her cowboy builder.'
-Carol, if you could speak to your builder, what would you say?
-Why did he leave me in such a mess?
-Why did he think he could do for the money...
-All of that work for the figure he quoted.
-So there's the phone.
If you'd like to dial the number and put it on speakerphone, we can listen to what he has to say.
'I'm sorry. The person you called is not available. Please leave your message after the tone.'
Hello. It's Carol Alley. I would like you to get a hold of me. Can you give me a ring back?
Since he's moved on from you, he's probably on another number. That's my guess.
-So what I would say is this -
to anybody watching today - take a landline telephone number
and in your contract always have the address where the builder lives.
-And, if necessary, do your sleuthing.
-Go and visit him.
-Visit, see if the wagons are there.
As long as you've got all that tied up, just in case it ever goes to litigation, ever goes to court,
you've got all those details.
'As is too often the case, this cowboy did not return the call
'and has still not returned any of the money he took for the botched, incomplete job.
'Carol's 11-year-old daughter, Kirsty, has been there for her mum through all the bad times
'and now she's going to help me look forward to the good times.'
I know she likes the colours that are in her bedroom now.
-So that would be good.
-Has she recently done that bedroom?
-Just before she knew we were having downstairs done, she painted it.
-She wanted some wallpaper as well.
-Have you got any idea what she wanted?
-I've got some.
-Oh, have you got some?
OK, great. This? Fantastic.
So this is the wallpaper she'd like as an accent wall. The far wall?
-OK. We've got some nice colours there.
Nice powdery blues and autumnal browns, too.
We're doing our best now to get everything right, but I will need your help. Right?
-I'm relying on you, Kirsty, to make sure Mum doesn't look.
'It's all hands on deck downstairs.
'Our good guys ripped open that skinny doorway and are cutting back the brickwork
'to increase the width of the door for Carol's wheelchair. The bathroom has been stripped back
'to sort out that pathetic plumbing and terrible tiling.
'Our guys have got their work cut out to undo this cowboy's building,
'but they know what it will mean to this lady and they care.
'Coming up - Carol and Kirsty are overwhelmed by the good work our builders have done for them.'
We're so glad you're pleased.
'Back in Greenwich, London,
'John and Janna Watson are coping well after losing £38,000 of their hard-earned money
'to a cowboy conman.
'They're hopefully coming to the end of a nightmare chapter as our boys make good in the family room.
'I hope these good people have grown stronger from their bad experience
'and perhaps learned some lessons.'
I lost all objectivity. I just got so much into the dream...
..and the only thing... The reason I'm so angry... I'm more angry at myself.
-Because I think it was greed.
I speak personally. I wanted it and I wanted more for what I wanted.
I was so blinded by this desire. "Here it is, it's coming."
And I lost objectivity.
I lost sense, I lost reason.
I probably wouldn't use that term, but that's so refreshing.
There are people out there thinking, "I want to get..." Not something for nothing, but bordering that.
It just doesn't exist.
If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
'Of course, our guys are as close to being too good to be true as you can get
'and they've been hard at it for a few days. They've done a cracking job by taking this extension
'and turning it into a fully plasterboarded, smoothly plastered airy living space.
'With Janna on her way home with young Benjamin,
'the family are poised to see what good work these builders have done in their extension.'
-Oh, wow. That is incredible.
-That is unbelievable.
It's completely different. It's now become a room,
somewhere we actually think... We're seeing it now.
I think it's given it more volume, don't you?
That's what is the most thing.
-It actually looks...bigger.
-It does look bigger.
-It really does.
-With a fantastic finish. They did a brilliant job.
It's plaster, but underneath it you've got the wall boards,
insulation. They've done such a great job. It's almost like glass. It's a real art.
It is smooth.
This is just the beginning, guys.
You so, so deserve it. Big style. Just remind us,
-Janna, what it was like in here.
-It was breezeblocks,
-it was a mess, it was cold, it was...
-It was freezing.
It wasn't a good look.
-What about you, John?
-Well, it was grey!
Now it looks so close to finishing. You can see the end of the tunnel with this phase.
It feels more feasible that we could actually do this, we could actually finish this now.
This is just...great.
This is the kind of thing that I can't do. This kind of plastering is incredible.
And all the boarding and insulation. I could never do that.
-That's where you need money.
-Which we haven't got.
This is something I never even thought we would be doing in a matter of weeks or...
-You've learnt a lot of skills with your dad's help as well.
Your attitude has been immense.
All I'm going to say is fantastic pastor, brilliant plaster!
'The good guys have done it, turning this into a fully sealed and secured family room.
'We've insulated the ceiling, put plasterboards up and finished off with smooth plaster.
'The Watsons' home still needs work to complete their dream extension,
'but now they've got a huge proper room they can use and space for the kids to play indoors.
'No wonder they all seem so happy.
'And from one happy family to a brave lady in waiting.
'Up in Redditch, Carol Alley is only two weeks from a serious operation,
'which will leave her in a wheelchair for about a year,
'but now she's in for a treat and I can't wait to show her.
'But first a few finishing touches.'
-I need a hand with my mum's stuff.
-Has she got loads?
Now this is Mum's old room.
Her old bedroom. What do you think Mum's going to want from this bedroom down in the new bedroom?
The bedside table, the lamp, the mirror and the big wooden thing.
-I don't know what it's called.
-It's so important. We must make sure we take it.
No problem. You carry on. I'll make the tea!
'Once everything's finished and in place, all we need is Carol.'
Here she is.
Surprise! You all right, Carol?
I couldn't get in the door!
Kirsty and I can't wait to show you what we've done inside what was the garage.
You've had loads of grief, lots of trouble, but can you remember - before we go in -
what it was like before we arrived?
It was a mess. It was uneven and unfinished.
-What were the doors like?
-Narrow and wide at the top.
With that massive gap at the top as well. What were the other problems in the bathroom?
The plumbing didn't work and the tiling was unfinished and the floor wasn't finished.
OK, so...what are you hoping for?
Something I can just move into and use straight away.
-I go into hospital in the morning.
-OK. You take Mum's hand, then.
You take Mum's hand that side.
I'll take Mum's hand this side. All right? I'm going to say
-are you ready?
OK, here we go.
Oh, my God! Oh, wow.
-What do you think?
-It's absolutely beautiful.
-It's all painted, we've got carpet down,
the bed's here. It looks great.
It's got lovely clean lines.
-Oh, it's lovely.
-It looks fantastic.
-Do you remember that door as well?
It's been widened so it can take your wheelchair.
-A great finish.
-Your TV is in as well.
'The unfinished shell that was here before has been replaced by a tidy bedroom,
'with Carol's favourite wallpaper and furniture, creating a truly comfortable space to recuperate.
'That skinny door has been widened to properly accommodate Carol's wheelchair.
'And the windows have been fixed and painted and the sill replaced.
'That's the bedroom sorted. Now what will Carol think of her new bathroom?'
-One thing you'll notice straight away...
-I haven't got a gap!
-And the door used to open...
-It used to open...
Like you rightly said, if you ever had a slip or fall,
nobody could get in properly to get to rescue you.
-Now that door opens...out.
-Look at that.
-Oh, it's gorgeous!
-Fantastic. All finished off. Again, lovely clean lines.
-It's a shower room to be proud of.
All the tiling is finished. All the trim has been done as well.
-That's all been finished off nicely. Really all it needs is you.
And you've got the extractor fan, so when you switch the light on...
-your light comes on.
-All in all?
'This is the bathroom that Carol wanted and desperately needs.
'The good guys have got rid of that shoddy, unfinished bathroom and given Carol
'a beautifully-fitted en suite, fully tiled with safe lighting.
'The new outward-opening door is more accessible,
'plus the plumbing's been fixed so that anything flushed away will never be seen again.
'And the shower unit has been properly fitted and sealed.
'There's no better finish for a good builder than a big smile.'
I hope you really do enjoy it.
You all right? Ohhh...
'The great news is Carol's had her first operation and it went well.
'So much so that she's gone back to work.'
You've been a great help.
Wow! Finally, Carol has got her fairy-tale ending.
Now she can recover from her surgery and the building nightmare in comfort.
We've proved there are some top tradespeople out there. Just search for them
and hopefully you won't be falling into the cowboy trap.
E-mail [email protected]
Clive visits Eltham to help a family who were forced to learn how to build their own extension after the builder ran off with their savings. The show is also in Redditch to answer an SOS from a single mum who desperately needs a bedroom and en suite with disabled access, and was stung by a bodging builder.