Episode 7 Cowboy Trap


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Episode 7

The consumer series visits Chesterfield to help a couple living with a wasteland instead of a front drive, and Warrington to help a family left living in a half-built shell.


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Transcript


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Today, I'm going to show you some of the most common building blunders

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that I've seen take place over the years.

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We feel as if we've been conned.

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And I'll be revealing some of the tricks that these con men use

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to get their hands on your hard-earned cash.

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He would tell Michael sob stories. He never told me sob stories.

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My team of experts will put right the damage

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and give the people their homes back.

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Oh, wow.

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Oh, it's lovely.

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I'll give you loads of advice and tons of tips

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to prevent you from falling into the cowboy trap.

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Today, we'll be meeting two families

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who've been double-crossed by dodgy builders.

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In Chesterfield, the Cravens planned to upgrade their family home.

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They wanted new windows, a conservatory

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and to complete the makeover,

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a posh new patio with extra parking for all their kids' cars.

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One thing that really bugged us was the lack of parking,

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which for a family of up to eight people, when the kids are here,

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can be a bit of a tricky thing.

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A meeting with a bolshy builder who reckoned he could do the lot

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turned out to be their worst nightmare.

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He's been challenged but he just comes up with the same sob stories

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and every time you ring him, some catastrophe has befallen him

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to stop him doing this.

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And in Warrington, we'll meet the Wrights,

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who, having outgrown their bungalow, wanted a new extension.

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I was really excited

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because it's just going to make the house so much bigger

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because things were becoming very cramped.

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We were falling over toys and things,

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so I was really excited about it.

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But their dream was dashed by the cowboy they drip-fed with cash

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until their savings ran out.

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I feel disappointed because I trusted him.

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I totally trusted him.

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And anger. A lot of anger.

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Because I just feel like our family are suffering

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and he's living a champagne lifestyle.

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First up, we're in Chesterfield.

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It's known for its crooked spire church

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but the Cravens were hoping more conventional building work

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would solve their problem.

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What comes with grown-up families are vehicles

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and they needed more off-road parking.

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What they didn't bargain for, however,

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was a full headlong drive into disaster.

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Pat and Mike Craven's six grown-up children

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own a lot of cars between them,

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so extra parking was on their mind.

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But top of their wish list was the new windows and doors

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to update their '30s-style exterior.

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Then one day, Mike met a man who said he could help.

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Mike owns a safety clothing store

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and this customer had a rather unusual request.

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I first met the builder purely by chance

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because he called into our trade shop

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on the hunt for some size 14 safety shoes.

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A very personable guy, very interesting to talk to,

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and we got chatting about various things

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and jobs we were thinking of having done at home.

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And in particular, we were in the throes then

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of having some quotes done for double glazing.

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So he mentioned that their company provided double glazing,

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would we give him the opportunity to quote, which we did.

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Having made a good impression on Mike,

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the builder came back with an enticing estimate

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and soon had the Cravens talking about other improvements on their wish list.

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I quite liked the guy. He was easy to talk to.

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He certainly came across as quite confident.

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In the conversation in our lounge while we were talking about windows,

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we mentioned to him that we'd dearly love to have the front lawn turned into a drive and parking area.

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We'd been told we'd never get permission for a drive on the front.

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He said, "Oh, I can get that. No problem.

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"I'll get that through the council. I'll get planning permission."

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And that's how it all started.

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This guy had managed to get his size 14s well inside the Cravens' house

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and convinced them he could make all their dreams come true -

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new windows, parking and posh patio.

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And the list just kept on growing.

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Then he came back to us and said, "You were talking about having a conservatory.

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"Shall we put that on the planning?

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"Even if you don't build it now, you'll have the permission."

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So we said OK.

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And then he kind of talked Michael into having one.

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Clearly a guy with the gift of the gab.

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Pat and Mike decided that this was the man for the job.

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But as work commenced on the patio and driveway,

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it soon became apparent that this too-good-to-be-true builder

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was exactly that.

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What we started to get from him was stalling tactics.

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He would always have an excuse or a reason why a job hadn't been finished.

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Mostly it was because his builders had let him down.

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I started to smell a rat because the excuses were getting more and more exaggerated.

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Mike's nose for trouble didn't let him down

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but the cowboy builder did.

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Two years after the job started, nothing is finished.

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The Cravens have been left with bodged windows, missing doors,

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a patchy patio and the conservatory isn't even started.

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We're still waiting for him to come and finish things off around the windows.

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The drive looks like a wreck.

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The paved area, it's just horrendous.

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And it's just living in this... the mess.

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And I can't stand living in mess.

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Follow my top tip.

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Always make sure your builder completes work in stages

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and make sure you're 100% happy about the work completed

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before the builder starts the next stage.

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Learning this tip has cost the Cravens dearly -

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lots of jobs started and none done.

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And even worse, they've also been left with a huge hole

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in their bank balance.

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The total sum that we've paid out in hard cash is £18,500.

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For £18,500, the Cravens hoped to have a home which would be the neighbours' envy.

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A posh patio and parking, smart new windows

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and a classic conservatory.

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But now they're ashamed. Their home is an eyesore.

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We've got the good guys standing by to smarten up the Cravens' castle

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but first, I want to take a look at the damage for myself.

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-Hello! I presume you're Pat.

-I am, yes.

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-I'm Clive Holland from Cowboy Trap.

-Hi.

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-How are you?

-I'm fine, thank you.

-Jolly good.

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

-Just a little!

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Thank you.

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'I got a glimpse of the bodged windows from outside

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'but Mike says they're even worse inside.'

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The problems here are pretty obvious to see. Finish.

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Lack of finish.

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The fit's not good. There's slight draughts from each of the windows.

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But the lack of finish around the surround

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where they've took the old windows out and put these in is diabolical.

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Yeah. You can see that.

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I wouldn't want to look at this mess for nigh on two years

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but the upstairs windows aren't just ugly, they're dangerous.

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The main concern with this window, apart from its poor fit and gaps,

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-is the fact that there are no stays on the openers.

-Right.

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We had an incident a few weeks ago where my wife was stood here,

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shouting down to a nephew who'd just come, he's a five-year-old,

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and she was leaning out and you can go out quite a way with this window.

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Shouting down to him and he shouted back,

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"Auntie Pat! Auntie Pat! You could jump out of there."

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-Well and you could.

-You could, I think.

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That's the thing, definitely.

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The catalogue of crazy glazing doesn't stop there.

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The window in the bathroom should be glazed with toughened safety glass

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but this is just standard glass.

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A slip in the bath could prove deathly.

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-A slippy surface...

-Absolutely.

-..falling against that glass could be lethal.

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And it's not just the windows that are a worry. The door is a disaster.

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Again, Mike, the problems are for all to see there.

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Where he's disturbed the old plaster, the existing plaster,

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that looks close to dropping off at some time.

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Virtually. There's a whole panel there that needs replacing

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and then making good.

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-I bet you could push that in.

-You can.

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-You can feel quite a draught through there.

-I bet you can.

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The windows and doors don't measure up

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and the patio stops short, too.

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-Now this is the patio that they've left you with.

-Yes.

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The whole area should be completed, right down to the wall there,

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right down here

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and the path up the side of that house there should be paved.

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-OK. And it's not.

-It's not.

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This job is far from providing the kerb appeal the Cravens craved.

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The driveway is down but the fence is far from finished

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and the patio is very poor.

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So, Pat, you're sitting in your property

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and you're looking at that drive, what is the feeling?

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To look out at it, it's embarrassing for starters, you know.

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Everybody knows it because it's got this mess in front of it.

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What is important to me at this stage, I have to say,

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-is to give you that reason to smile again.

-Mm.

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Poor Pat is embarrassed by her environmental eyesore.

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But we're getting the good guys in to put right the patio

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and make her visitors' walk up as wonderful as she dreamed.

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'Coming up, an independent inspector tells us just how bad

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'this bodged job really is.'

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If this was my property and they were doing this work,

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I wouldn't have paid them a penny.

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We're also in Warrington, with Sharon and Jimmy Wright

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and their football-mad son Nathan.

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The Wrights have outgrown their bungalow

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but they love living here and don't want to move,

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so they planned a new extension

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with an extra bedroom with luxury en suite

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and swish new extended kitchen.

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It's a nice bungalow for just a couple

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but when you get a family, it really closes in upon you.

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It was really getting me down,

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to be falling over toys and to feel so cramped in it.

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So it was really exciting to have an extra room

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and a bigger space in the kitchen.

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It was going to be our dream, basically.

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But everything went wrong for the Wrights

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when it came to choosing their builder.

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He was recommended through someone we knew.

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His price was mid-range.

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We thought, that's good.

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Erm... So it was between him and another guy we were looking at,

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who were very, very similar in price.

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Erm... And the other guy couldn't start for six months.

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Six months seemed an age away and Sharon couldn't wait,

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so she ignored all her friends' advice.

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He could start immediately,

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so that, again, kind of swayed us.

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We ignored people's advice on if people can start straight away,

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don't go for it.

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We got rather excited, thinking, "Wow, he can start straight away.

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"This is fantastic."

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Follow my tips and stay out of trouble.

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Listen to advice and be wary.

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If your chosen builder can start right away,

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alarm bells should be ringing.

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Expect to book your builder well in advance.

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Remember, a good builder is a busy builder.

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Sharon's builder was so anxious to get started,

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he decided to skip the paperwork.

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All the other builders, when they'd come out,

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had itemised everything.

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So I said, "Are you going to put it in writing?"

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Erm... And he said he would do but he would rather start the job.

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Then came the cowboy con.

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He asked us for some money

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and I kind of said, "Well, are we not doing stage payments?"

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Because that's what we'd agreed with all the other builders.

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Because we'd rushed to get him started,

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we hadn't kind of agreed any stage payments.

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And he said that because he was only a little builder,

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he wasn't one of the big builders,

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he didn't actually have big accounts with people,

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so he couldn't actually afford to put thousands of pounds up front

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and if we could kind of drip-feed him.

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We did, a number of times, drip-feed him a few payments -

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well, quite a lot of money, to be honest, when you look back,

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but you don't realise, when it's £1,000 here and £1,000 there that he's asking for.

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The Wrights' drip-feeding became a flow and then a flood,

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even though the builder's work was drying up.

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In total the Wrights drip-fed their thirsty builder £59,000

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and he still didn't finish the job.

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I need to find out exactly what went wrong,

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so I'm going to check the evidence for myself.

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DOORBELL RINGS

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-Hello.

-Hello.

-Are you Sharon?

-I am.

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-I'm Clive from Cowboy Trap. How are you?

-Fine, thank you.

-Jolly good.

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-Now, we've got problems with builders.

-Yes.

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-Could you show me the destruction?

-Yeah, come through.

-Thank you.

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'Just how difficult can it be

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'to add one bed, one bath and kitchen to a modern bungalow?

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'I'm about to find out.'

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Really quite messy still. Things to finish off in here.

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So what were the intentions for here?

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It's just a breakfast room.

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We're going to knock through there and have our table and chairs here.

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-Great. So kitchen...?

-Is on the other side.

-Great.

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So you're going to have this as a breakfast kitchen,

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-an extension of...?

-Yeah.

-OK.

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So again, still lots to do.

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There's so much still to do,

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considering how much of their savings Sharon has shelled out.

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And shell is just what she's been left with.

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What sort of disturbs me as I look down there

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is not just the fact that you've got no insulation

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but you've actually got some hardcore, rubble

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and it's cement, as well.

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They've just thrown anything down there.

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-It looks to me like it's above the damp course.

-Right.

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So it's above the DPC line,

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so that's something again, for future, I'd be concerned about.

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-But again, just not finished at all, is it?

-No.

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-Everything's half finished.

-Yeah.

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-Or in some cases, looking at it, just a quarter finished.

-Mm.

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It's just not there at all.

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This builder has covered up to fool Sharon into thinking the job is close to completion

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but sadly, it's a sham.

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We've got some plasterwork that's been started

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but the electrics hadn't been done.

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So we've paid for the electrician to come in and put these electrics in.

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-He's had to go into the plasterboards.

-Right, OK.

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-So they plasterboarded up before putting any of the cables in?

-Yes.

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-What are all the carcases for?

-That's the carcases for our kitchen.

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We had that delivered in November 2007.

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-Wow!

-Yeah.

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But the rest of the kitchen, the builder took delivery of.

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We could only fit the carcases, because we had them in the front bedroom, into the house,

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so he took delivery of the rest of the kitchen

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in his lock-up.

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-Has he still got them, to your knowledge?

-I think so.

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We have asked him for them and the solicitor's asked for them

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but we've had no response.

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'This job has a bad smell about it.

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'No, really! It does!'

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-This is due to be...?

-An en suite.

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-So this is your en suite?

-Yes.

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-It stinks in here. I'm going to be honest.

-It does.

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That is... That is an open drain,

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an open soil stack.

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That's not healthy, either.

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-You've got a child with you, too.

-Yes.

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And it's not good for anybody.

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Sharon's extension shouldn't be left like this any longer.

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We can't do everything

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but we should certainly get this en-suite stink sorted.

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Is there anything that we can do that would make you smile?

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Give you that opportunity to be able to move on?

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I'm out of savings now, so any job.

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OK. How important would it be if we could do that en suite for you?

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-That would be great. Fantastic.

-OK.

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-Is that a deal, then? Should we do that?

-Brilliant.

-All right.

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You know, Sharon and Jimmy have lived in this mess for way too long

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and it's cost them an absolute fortune.

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And of course, their good nature has been taken advantage of

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by this cowboy builder.

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But they've put their hands up and said they've made mistakes, too,

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but it's time for me to get the good guys in to show them what good guys can really do.

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It's time to bring in the team to install Sharon's luxury en suite.

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I hope we can right the wrongs and restore her faith.

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Coming up, I discover Sharon's cowboy con man has form.

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He's done this not once, not twice, but three times to ladies.

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Pure devastation.

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There wasn't one room he hadn't touched.

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Back in Chesterfield,

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the Cravens dreamed of updating their 1930s detached home,

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with extra parking, a posh patio, classic conservatory

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and new doors and windows.

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Mike thought he'd hit the jackpot

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when a customer in his safety-clothing shop said he could do the lot.

0:18:000:18:04

But it soon became clear

0:18:040:18:05

the Cravens' lucky number wasn't 18,500.

0:18:050:18:09

The work slowed down.

0:18:090:18:11

Some days only one builder would turn up,

0:18:110:18:13

some days no builders would turn up.

0:18:130:18:15

We obviously challenged him about this each time

0:18:150:18:18

and he was very good at excuses

0:18:180:18:20

and there was always some particular reason,

0:18:200:18:23

either the weather or one of his workmen was ill

0:18:230:18:25

or something had happened that had let him down,

0:18:250:18:28

which obviously then let us down.

0:18:280:18:30

The Cravens don't have much to show for their investment.

0:18:300:18:34

The new windows are woeful,

0:18:340:18:35

the patio appalling

0:18:350:18:37

and don't even ask to see the conservatory.

0:18:370:18:40

It was never built.

0:18:400:18:42

It's been one excuse after another.

0:18:420:18:44

Each excuse gets a little bit more fantastic than the previous one

0:18:440:18:47

and just that little bit more unbelievable.

0:18:470:18:50

And he wouldn't speak to me because Michael's not as aggressive as I am.

0:18:500:18:56

I lose my temper.

0:18:560:18:57

Michael's very mild and says, "Oh, let me sort it."

0:18:570:19:02

I tend to be a little bit more generous

0:19:020:19:04

in giving people a bit more time and a bit more faith in people

0:19:040:19:08

than my wife does.

0:19:080:19:10

She kind of lost patience very early on

0:19:100:19:13

and, quite rightly,

0:19:130:19:14

started to challenge the delays and the excuses.

0:19:140:19:19

But the cost here isn't just financial.

0:19:190:19:22

It's emotional, too.

0:19:220:19:23

The cowboy con job has crushed a once happy family.

0:19:230:19:27

The main impact on our life is the strain between myself and my wife.

0:19:270:19:31

The relationship there has been fraught.

0:19:310:19:34

Because he was coming in to see me and giving me sob stories,

0:19:340:19:39

I kind of defended him a little bit.

0:19:390:19:41

That, clearly, has backfired and it's created quite a strain.

0:19:410:19:45

I have said to him, "But you did it.

0:19:450:19:48

"You've got this guy round and went ahead with it."

0:19:480:19:51

Erm...

0:19:510:19:54

And I do feel... I feel impotent

0:19:540:19:56

that I can't make this man do what he's supposed to do.

0:19:560:20:03

You know, we gave him this money in good faith

0:20:030:20:06

to please do this for us.

0:20:060:20:08

And he didn't and it's so...

0:20:080:20:12

I'm so angry about it, really.

0:20:130:20:16

Pat's brother Lee has seen the heartache

0:20:160:20:18

this cowboy has caused his sister and brother-in-law.

0:20:180:20:22

She'd break down in tears.

0:20:220:20:23

We'd say, "Is everything all right?" and she'd seem pretty choked.

0:20:230:20:27

Mike, you'd speak to him about it

0:20:270:20:30

and it was as though he was holding back.

0:20:300:20:33

Here's a tip.

0:20:350:20:36

Don't let a builder wreck your home and your relationship.

0:20:360:20:39

You have so much more strength when you stand together.

0:20:390:20:43

Talk to each other, agree a plan of action and stick to it.

0:20:430:20:46

'There's been too much heartache for Pat and Mike.

0:20:490:20:51

'I think our good guys can achieve so much more here

0:20:510:20:55

'than simply laying a patio.

0:20:550:20:57

'But before they get to work,

0:20:570:20:59

'I want independent building inspector Barry Hodgson

0:20:590:21:01

'to give me his expert verdict on the jobs that have been done.'

0:21:010:21:05

-I've had a good look round and there are all sorts of problems.

-Lots.

0:21:050:21:09

All this mortar pointing, you can hear it's loose.

0:21:090:21:13

It's hollow. That'll be away soon.

0:21:130:21:15

One thing that particularly concerns me is the crack

0:21:150:21:18

that goes between ground floor and first floor window.

0:21:180:21:21

When you see cracks like that, there's a similar crack on the other side, it does make you wonder.

0:21:210:21:27

You can imagine that whole slab falling off.

0:21:270:21:30

It could certainly pull away and need structural repair.

0:21:300:21:34

There are parts of the paving area that we're going to sort out

0:21:340:21:39

but what did you make of these steps?

0:21:390:21:41

Unfortunately, the top riser's too small

0:21:410:21:45

-and the rest of the risers are unequal.

-Yes.

0:21:450:21:47

So it's dangerous.

0:21:470:21:48

Anybody visiting the house, they're going down the stairs,

0:21:480:21:52

they quite easily could fall because of the irregular heights.

0:21:520:21:55

It's incredible when you think,

0:21:550:21:57

"How would they leave that job and think that was right?"

0:21:570:22:01

-Well, exactly.

-It's hideous.

0:22:010:22:03

The most annoying thing about this type of thing

0:22:030:22:07

-is that it would have been just as easy to have done it right.

-Yes.

0:22:070:22:10

If this was my property and they were doing this work,

0:22:100:22:13

I wouldn't have paid them a penny.

0:22:130:22:15

Could you give us a mark out of ten for the work that the builders have carried out?

0:22:150:22:19

To be quite honest, with the level of work,

0:22:190:22:22

the danger that's been created,

0:22:220:22:24

the possibility of problems, structural problems

0:22:240:22:28

and future maintenance, I wouldn't give them a mark.

0:22:280:22:30

-So for you, it would be a big fat zero?

-Yes.

0:22:300:22:33

Zero out of ten. That says it all.

0:22:330:22:36

It's time to bring in the good guys and see how it should be done.

0:22:360:22:40

We plan to lift and relay the paving to complete the patio and pathway.

0:22:400:22:44

Our thorough preparation will ensure the job not only looks good,

0:22:440:22:48

but is laid to last.

0:22:480:22:50

While we're at it, we'll complete the missing fencing, too.

0:22:500:22:53

Pat and Mike can rest assured our boys will be scoring ten out of ten.

0:22:530:22:58

While they get on with the job, I want to track back

0:22:580:23:01

and find out how this cowboy caused so much grief.

0:23:010:23:04

In terms of how much you paid him,

0:23:040:23:07

did you pay him stages or did you give him money up front?

0:23:070:23:10

We paid him the full amount for the drive up front.

0:23:100:23:13

-Right.

-We paid him £6,000.

0:23:130:23:16

Next question. Why?

0:23:160:23:18

Because we were gullible, I guess.

0:23:180:23:20

He'd kind of come with a dream that we never thought we'd ever realise

0:23:200:23:24

and it seemed too good to be true.

0:23:240:23:26

The price did seem reasonable.

0:23:260:23:28

Everything about it seemed plausible.

0:23:280:23:31

He gave us the reasons that he needed the money up front.

0:23:310:23:34

It would be for the hire of plant and equipment and skips.

0:23:340:23:39

Nine times out of ten, a good bona fide builder will have accounts

0:23:390:23:43

with builders' merchants, hire companies...

0:23:430:23:47

We found out afterwards that the skip place up the road,

0:23:470:23:50

he owed them megabucks.

0:23:500:23:52

Surprise, surprise!

0:23:520:23:54

So here's a hard-won tip.

0:23:560:23:59

Always be wary of a builder who asks for payment up front.

0:23:590:24:03

Good builders have accounts

0:24:030:24:05

which they don't have to settle for at least 30 days,

0:24:050:24:08

so you shouldn't be handing over any money.

0:24:080:24:11

I wonder what Mike would like to say to his builder now.

0:24:130:24:17

If you could pick out three questions or thereabouts to ask him,

0:24:170:24:22

what would they be?

0:24:220:24:23

Where are the missing fence panels?

0:24:230:24:27

What's happened to the patio doors that we've paid for?

0:24:270:24:30

And when is he going to fix all the mistakes with the double glazing?

0:24:300:24:35

I'm going to give you that opportunity, Mike, to give him a call.

0:24:350:24:38

If he answers the phone, put those questions nice and succinct.

0:24:380:24:42

RINGING TONE Here we go. It's ringing.

0:24:470:24:50

'Amazingly, the builder has picked up,

0:24:530:24:55

'so perhaps now, Mike can finally get some answers.'

0:24:550:24:59

I've been trying to get you for quite a while now with regard to all the unfinished work.

0:24:590:25:04

Can you give me some idea of where we stand?

0:25:040:25:08

'The builder says that as the company has gone into receivership,

0:25:080:25:12

'there is nothing he can do to help with the mountain of mess

0:25:120:25:15

'the Cravens have been left with.'

0:25:150:25:17

So you're saying we're going to get nothing and no work finished?

0:25:170:25:22

'I've heard enough excuses.

0:25:220:25:23

'I think Mike deserves an apology at the very least.'

0:25:230:25:27

Was all the work you carried out satisfactory? Do you believe it was quality work?

0:25:270:25:33

'He says he hired qualified builders to do the work,

0:25:330:25:36

'so it's not his responsibility.

0:25:360:25:38

'But, surprise, surprise, finally, he does come up with that apology.'

0:25:380:25:43

Was that an apology you just give us?

0:25:430:25:46

I've got to say, in all the time I've been doing this job,

0:25:460:25:50

right, and the thousands of cowboy builders that I've come across,

0:25:500:25:54

not one of them have given an apology.

0:25:540:25:57

But at the end of the day, you've left them living in Stressville

0:25:570:26:01

because of all of the hassle that they've had

0:26:010:26:05

through you undertaking the work at their property.

0:26:050:26:10

And that, you cannot put a price on, I'm afraid.

0:26:100:26:14

'Coming up, I'm hoping Pat and Mike will be thrilled

0:26:140:26:18

'when they finally see what the good guys can do.'

0:26:180:26:20

Meanwhile, back in Warrington and the Wright family's bodged bungalow.

0:26:230:26:27

They drip-fed their builder cash

0:26:270:26:29

to add a one bedroom luxury en suite and swish new kitchen.

0:26:290:26:33

They were left with an incomplete shell

0:26:330:26:36

after shelling out £59,000,

0:26:360:26:38

including six grand for kitchen units he's holding in his lock-up.

0:26:380:26:44

My little boy's desperate for his bedroom to be done.

0:26:440:26:47

He wants sleep-overs.

0:26:470:26:49

He's got to the age where he wants all of his friends round.

0:26:490:26:53

Sharon and Jimmy are nice, genuine people

0:26:530:26:56

and they expected their builder to be the same.

0:26:560:26:59

So they handed over their hard-earned cash, hoping for the best,

0:26:590:27:02

but what they ended up with was the very, very worst.

0:27:020:27:05

'I feel sorry for Sharon.

0:27:050:27:07

'She can't see any easy way out of this mess

0:27:070:27:10

'and there's so much still to do.

0:27:100:27:12

'Our good guys are waiting to get stuck in

0:27:120:27:15

'but first, I want independent building inspector Colin Harrop

0:27:150:27:19

'to give his verdict on the work.'

0:27:190:27:21

Now, you've had a chance to look around.

0:27:210:27:23

What have you seen that particularly gets up your nose, if you like?

0:27:230:27:27

It looks like they've made a start on things.

0:27:270:27:29

They've put some things together

0:27:290:27:31

and then work's pretty much ground to a halt.

0:27:310:27:34

Then they've come along and done a load of work

0:27:340:27:36

to let the person in the house know that something's happening.

0:27:360:27:40

So someone's come along with a paint brush and painted things

0:27:400:27:43

before the windows are in and it's wind and water tight.

0:27:430:27:47

It's the kind of thing has just been done to fob off the homeowner.

0:27:470:27:51

The other thing is that nowadays, when it comes to building houses,

0:27:510:27:55

there is a big push for houses to be energy efficient.

0:27:550:27:57

This house hasn't been insulated yet and it just cannot happen now,

0:27:570:28:02

that a house is extended without appropriate thought to insulation

0:28:020:28:07

and how it's going to be heated

0:28:070:28:09

so that it won't cost the homeowner an arm and a leg to do so.

0:28:090:28:14

Now, I have to say one thing. I'm sure you've noticed this.

0:28:140:28:17

-If this was Smell-o-Vision you could...

-There's a certain aroma,

0:28:170:28:21

which is not one that you'd choose for an air freshener, you're right.

0:28:210:28:25

And you're standing right next to it, I'm afraid.

0:28:250:28:28

-An open stack, there.

-It is an open stack.

0:28:280:28:31

Not very hygienic, not very clever.

0:28:310:28:33

The sort of thing that you would find halfway through a building job.

0:28:330:28:36

During mid-project, you have to open these things.

0:28:360:28:39

Certainly not something you'd leave open, though,

0:28:390:28:42

for humans to wander around or animals or anything,

0:28:420:28:46

because it does create a bit of a pong.

0:28:460:28:48

-And children. We've got children here.

-Quite.

0:28:480:28:51

What, in real terms, would you give the builder

0:28:510:28:56

in terms of a mark out of ten for the work that he's carried out?

0:28:560:28:59

I would give it a four out of ten.

0:28:590:29:01

For the homeowner, the problem is that it's nowhere near finished,

0:29:010:29:05

therefore I'm sure they would mark it a zero

0:29:050:29:07

because they haven't got what they paid for.

0:29:070:29:10

My own thought is that it would be a four out of ten mark.

0:29:100:29:13

Four out of ten.

0:29:170:29:18

I can understand where Colin's coming from because some things were done OK.

0:29:180:29:23

But when you consider the amount of money that he took from Sharon and Jimmy,

0:29:230:29:27

I've got to say, that's more than generous.

0:29:270:29:30

It's more than I would have given him.

0:29:300:29:32

I've seen enough. It's time to get the good guys in.

0:29:330:29:36

We're going to make sure the Wrights get their state-of-the-art en suite.

0:29:360:29:41

We're going to sort out the plumbing, panel the walls

0:29:410:29:44

and install the luxury steam shower cabin.

0:29:440:29:47

Hopefully, we'll bring the family some well-deserved happiness.

0:29:470:29:50

While they get to work, I want to track back

0:29:500:29:54

and find out how Sharon was conned

0:29:540:29:56

into drip-feeding her cowboy so much cash.

0:29:560:29:59

So how much did you give him?

0:29:590:30:01

Er, I think the first payment was £7,000.

0:30:010:30:04

Cheque? Banker's draft?

0:30:040:30:06

Cash.

0:30:060:30:08

Sharon!

0:30:080:30:10

But thing is, I didn't like to give him the cash

0:30:100:30:14

and I did question this.

0:30:140:30:16

And I said to him, "Do we get any receipts?"

0:30:160:30:19

And he said he didn't have a receipt book, so I created my own.

0:30:190:30:23

Good. I'm glad you created your own receipt book.

0:30:230:30:26

-You both signed it?

-Yes. And dated it.

0:30:260:30:28

And I wrote down what it was for.

0:30:280:30:30

So the final payment made what? What was the total?

0:30:300:30:33

It was £53,000.

0:30:330:30:35

-£53,000, all cash pound notes?

-Mm.

0:30:360:30:39

-Think what you could do with 53,000 cash pound notes.

-I know.

0:30:400:30:44

-Mm.

-Plus 6,000 for the kitchen, as well.

0:30:460:30:49

-That he still holds.

-That he still holds.

0:30:500:30:53

-At this stage.

-Yeah.

0:30:530:30:54

We're £53,000 lighter.

0:30:540:30:57

Take me through the emotion of what it's like.

0:30:570:31:01

It's a mixture of emotions. It's anger.

0:31:010:31:05

It's frustration, as well.

0:31:050:31:07

But also added to that

0:31:070:31:09

was the fact that my mum was very poorly at the time

0:31:090:31:12

and she'd been told that she didn't have very long to live.

0:31:120:31:15

So I was having to deal with that as well.

0:31:150:31:18

It was very, very stressful when my mum actually died

0:31:180:31:21

because of the fact that my mum planned the kitchen with me

0:31:210:31:25

and I did want her to see it.

0:31:250:31:27

Even up to two days before she died,

0:31:270:31:29

she kept saying to me, "How's your kitchen going along?"

0:31:290:31:33

I'd say, "Fine, Mum, fine."

0:31:330:31:34

And I just said to Jimmy when my mum died, "Knock it down, I never want to see it.

0:31:340:31:38

"I'm not going in there."

0:31:380:31:40

-That's how much it got to you?

-Yeah.

0:31:400:31:42

So what would Sharon like to say to her work-shy builder now?

0:31:420:31:45

If you had the opportunity to speak to him on the phone,

0:31:450:31:51

what would you like to say to him?

0:31:510:31:54

Erm...

0:31:540:31:55

-I'd like to ask for our kitchen back.

-Yeah.

0:31:550:31:59

And I'd like to ask him why he didn't return to finish the job.

0:31:590:32:04

Yeah.

0:32:040:32:05

And what's he done with the money that we've given him?

0:32:050:32:10

OK.

0:32:100:32:13

RINGING TONE

0:32:130:32:15

It's ringing.

0:32:150:32:17

But will he answer?

0:32:230:32:26

'The person you're calling is unable to take your call.

0:32:260:32:29

'Please leave your message after the tone.'

0:32:290:32:32

PHONE BLEEPS

0:32:320:32:33

It's Clive Holland here from Cowboy Trap on the BBC.

0:32:330:32:36

Erm, I've got a few questions I'd like to talk to you about,

0:32:360:32:40

from Sharon and Jimmy's extension that you did for them.

0:32:400:32:43

It's really important that you call us back on the number I've called you on.

0:32:430:32:47

Loads of questions, not enough answers.

0:32:470:32:51

So it's your right of reply. We're giving you this opportunity.

0:32:510:32:55

If you'd give us a call back as soon as possible, I'd really appreciate it

0:32:550:32:59

and I'm sure Sharon and Jimmy would, too. Thanks a lot.

0:32:590:33:02

I reckon he was looking at the phone going, "Don't recognise that number,"

0:33:030:33:07

-but...

-I think he lets it go to answerphone

0:33:070:33:11

-and then decides if he wants to return the calls.

-Yeah.

0:33:110:33:14

It's no surprise the builder isn't answering

0:33:140:33:16

because, can you believe it, it's not just the Wrights he's been treating wrong.

0:33:160:33:21

This guy is a serial offender

0:33:210:33:23

and Sharon has found two more of his victims.

0:33:230:33:26

I'm shocked by what I'm hearing.

0:33:260:33:28

I hated going home, wondering whether he'd be there.

0:33:300:33:34

If I was out, I nipped out, going home,

0:33:340:33:36

whether he'd be there doing anything

0:33:360:33:38

and that would bring on an emotion because I didn't want to see him.

0:33:380:33:41

Or if he wasn't there, I'd think, "Why isn't he at my house, finishing my work off?"

0:33:410:33:46

I asked him. I said, "Have you still got the money I gave you?"

0:33:460:33:49

And he said, "Yes, I have

0:33:490:33:51

"and you can take me to court, you will not get it back."

0:33:510:33:54

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

0:33:540:33:57

and by revealing your tricks,

0:33:570:33:59

we're preventing others from falling into the cowboy trap.

0:33:590:34:03

This cowboy really should be run out of town.

0:34:030:34:06

Coming up, there's a special surprise for football-mad Nathan.

0:34:060:34:10

You're absolutely star-struck, aren't you?

0:34:100:34:12

'And an even bigger surprise for his mum, Sharon.'

0:34:120:34:15

Back in Chesterfield,

0:34:180:34:19

our boys are putting the final touches to the Cravens' new patio area.

0:34:190:34:24

This couple have been through the mill

0:34:240:34:26

because of a dodgy dealer who promised them new windows, patio

0:34:260:34:29

and conservatory

0:34:290:34:31

but ended up giving them not much more than a whole load of stress.

0:34:310:34:34

He seems to have no conscience about leaving us in the lurch,

0:34:340:34:38

leaving the house in the state that it's in, unfinished work,

0:34:380:34:41

poor quality work.

0:34:410:34:44

All of this has been done and he doesn't take it on board,

0:34:440:34:48

the importance and the impact that's had on us.

0:34:480:34:50

So, yeah, I feel gullible and a bit stupid and naive

0:34:500:34:54

in the way that we've handled this

0:34:540:34:56

but also that we've been taken for a ride.

0:34:560:34:58

But this cowboy didn't just cause the Cravens financial problems.

0:34:580:35:02

Emotionally, the whole situation put a huge strain on their relationship.

0:35:020:35:07

You've already said about Mike being this sort of laid-back guy,

0:35:070:35:11

which I appreciate 100%,

0:35:110:35:14

and there's this fiery devil going off on one.

0:35:140:35:18

What is the relationship like?

0:35:180:35:21

What is the emotion like at that stage?

0:35:210:35:24

Michael's very calm and I'm not.

0:35:240:35:27

-You've had earache, haven't you?

-Yeah!

-Big time.

0:35:270:35:31

Well, I'm embarrassed by it. I can't stand it.

0:35:310:35:35

And I'm angry that we're in this situation

0:35:350:35:37

because somebody has duped us and I don't like being duped.

0:35:370:35:42

I don't like lies from anybody.

0:35:420:35:44

His attitude, as well.

0:35:440:35:45

He's just so rude about it or he comes up with another excuse

0:35:450:35:50

as to why it didn't happen.

0:35:500:35:51

What I want to do is to make sure

0:35:510:35:53

that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,

0:35:530:35:56

draw the line, take him out of your system.

0:35:560:35:59

-Otherwise, it will poison you forever.

-Mm.

0:35:590:36:02

And is that any good? He's still having an effect on you as a person.

0:36:020:36:08

His time will come, his time will come.

0:36:080:36:11

-Well, we hope so.

-Yeah. His time will come.

0:36:110:36:13

-What goes around... You've heard the saying.

-Yeah.

0:36:130:36:17

Make sure that you draw that line.

0:36:170:36:20

And that will be an agreement between you and I at the end of it, OK?

0:36:200:36:24

-It's good to get it off our chests, isn't it?

-It is.

0:36:240:36:26

-And I would imagine that it's something that's been bugging you for a long time.

-Yeah.

0:36:260:36:31

'So the Cravens have learnt an expensive lesson

0:36:310:36:33

'and will never again be seduced by the charms of a silver-tongued builder

0:36:330:36:37

'who promises the earth and leaves you in the dirt.

0:36:370:36:40

'So here's a tip.

0:36:400:36:42

'Keep your relationship with your builder business-like.

0:36:420:36:45

'He's there to work and get your job done.

0:36:450:36:48

'Keep a careful eye on his progress

0:36:480:36:50

'and make sure you get exactly what you paid for.

0:36:500:36:53

'Now our good guys are putting the finishing touches

0:36:530:36:56

'to Pat and Mike's posh new patio.'

0:36:560:36:58

So it's time to show them just what the good guys are capable of

0:36:580:37:02

and bring a little light back into the family's lives.

0:37:020:37:06

Before we go take a look, I just want you to remind me

0:37:060:37:10

what it looked like on that patio at the front.

0:37:100:37:12

-Rubble.

-Weeds.

-Weeds.

-Pebbles and just...

-A mess.

-Mm-hm.

0:37:120:37:17

OK. What are you hoping for?

0:37:170:37:21

-A pretty patio.

-Yes.

-A finished patio would be good.

0:37:210:37:24

-OK.

-That would be very nice.

-So are you ready to have a look?

-Yes, we are.

0:37:240:37:28

-Follow me. Let's go.

-Right.

-OK.

0:37:280:37:30

OK, guys, come and take a look.

0:37:320:37:34

-Look at that! Wow! A finished patio.

-It's brilliant.

0:37:370:37:42

-That's amazing.

-Yeah.

0:37:420:37:43

-Does that look good? Doesn't it look good?

-It looks very good.

0:37:430:37:47

-I can't believe it.

-Absolutely sound.

0:37:470:37:49

This is what the good guys are capable of doing.

0:37:490:37:52

Our good guys have done a great job.

0:37:520:37:55

We've taken up the badly-laid paving, levelled the land

0:37:550:37:58

and relaid the slabs.

0:37:580:38:00

The front of the Cravens' home now has the welcoming look they dreamed of

0:38:000:38:04

and Pat can be proud when her guests come calling.

0:38:040:38:07

We've completed the paving around the side,

0:38:070:38:10

creating a classy look.

0:38:100:38:12

And we've gone further, fixing the missing fence panels,

0:38:120:38:15

which is just the finish you expect when you hire the professionals.

0:38:150:38:19

-We can invite friends round again.

-They can walk up without breaking their necks.

0:38:210:38:25

The threshold of your property is the first thing you see, really,

0:38:250:38:31

so now that it's really presentable and looks great,

0:38:310:38:35

-it's something to be proud of.

-It is, it's lovely.

0:38:350:38:38

-Very nice.

-Fantastic.

0:38:380:38:39

-So is that a result?

-It's certainly a result.

0:38:390:38:42

-Good man.

-Jolly good.

0:38:420:38:43

Come here! Come here, you.

0:38:430:38:45

'It's good to see the Cravens smiling again.'

0:38:450:38:50

Time to do the same for the Wright family back in Warrington.

0:38:510:38:55

Our good guys have been hard at work,

0:38:550:38:57

trying to put right some of the mess left by a cowboy builder

0:38:570:39:00

after the family hired him to build an extension onto their bungalow.

0:39:000:39:05

We're installing the state-of-the-art shower

0:39:050:39:08

and bringing a luxury look with these special panels.

0:39:080:39:11

During this whole period, there was somebody else that was affected, too,

0:39:110:39:15

and that was their nine-year-old son, Nathan.

0:39:150:39:17

I kind of feel like I'm letting my little boy down all the time.

0:39:170:39:21

There's been scaffolding, there's been holes, cement mixers.

0:39:210:39:25

I keep saying, "No, you can't play out in the garden with your friends.

0:39:250:39:30

"It's too dangerous."

0:39:300:39:31

Dealing with the building work swallowed up his parents' time and money

0:39:310:39:35

and treats like going to see his beloved Wigan Athletic play

0:39:350:39:39

became a thing of the past for Nathan.

0:39:390:39:41

Now, that might not be a big thing to you and I

0:39:410:39:44

but to a nine-year-old boy, it's huge.

0:39:440:39:46

But I have got a secret little trick up my sleeve.

0:39:460:39:49

It's a massive surprise and I can't wait to show him what it is.

0:39:490:39:53

While we leave the good guys to finish up,

0:39:530:39:56

I've arranged a special trip for Nathan,

0:39:560:39:58

to meet his heroes at a training session.

0:39:580:40:00

You're absolutely star-struck, aren't you?

0:40:000:40:03

'It's great to be able to bring a bit of joy

0:40:030:40:06

'into this lovely lad's life.'

0:40:060:40:07

And back at home, my boys are doing their final tweaks

0:40:100:40:13

and I can't wait to show Sharon the kind of work

0:40:130:40:16

good guys are capable of.

0:40:160:40:19

Do you mind just talking me through what it was like before we arrived?

0:40:190:40:23

Erm, it was just a shell, basically.

0:40:230:40:25

-So, really, it was just a mess, wasn't it?

-It was.

0:40:250:40:27

-OK. So are you ready to take a look?

-I'm ready. Yes.

0:40:270:40:32

-OK. After you.

-Thank you.

0:40:320:40:34

Oh, wow.

0:40:340:40:36

Oh, it's lovely. It's really nice.

0:40:370:40:40

-Is that sweet?

-Yeah. A completed room! Hey!

0:40:400:40:44

-A completed room. Wonderful shower and steam room, as well.

-Wow.

0:40:440:40:50

-Toilet fitted.

-Yes.

-And all the pipe work boxed in as well.

0:40:500:40:54

All the cladding in, cupboards up, that sort of thing.

0:40:540:40:58

The old dodgy plumbing is a distant memory.

0:40:580:41:01

Everything now runs like a dream.

0:41:010:41:03

The ugly unfinished walls have been luxuriously transformed

0:41:030:41:07

by the gorgeous panels,

0:41:070:41:09

giving the room a warm and modern look.

0:41:090:41:11

And of course, the jewel in the crown, is that shower unit

0:41:110:41:16

that's been fitted.

0:41:160:41:18

Look at this.

0:41:180:41:20

I'm loving the light in here.

0:41:200:41:22

Oh, wow!

0:41:220:41:23

This family will be squeaky clean

0:41:230:41:25

with the amount of time they're going to want to spend in their watery wonderland.

0:41:250:41:30

-Wow!

-Oh, fantastic.

-Do you like it, Nathan?

0:41:310:41:34

Really nice. I do like that.

0:41:340:41:36

-What do you think, Nathan?

-Good job.

-Yeah.

0:41:360:41:38

-Yeah!

-It's got a radio in it.

-It's got a radio in.

0:41:380:41:43

-Remote control.

-Even better.

-Yeah, it's even got a remote control.

0:41:430:41:49

'Sharon finally has her dream luxury en suite

0:41:490:41:52

'and it looks like things are definitely on the up for the Wrights.'

0:41:520:41:56

You've got some great news. Tell us what it is.

0:41:560:41:58

We're going to get our kitchen back.

0:41:580:42:01

We contacted the storage company

0:42:030:42:04

who've basically said, if we can prove ownership of the kitchen we can have it back.

0:42:040:42:09

So we have all the receipts and everything now,

0:42:090:42:12

so we're just waiting for our solicitor to write a letter

0:42:120:42:15

and then they will release the kitchen to us.

0:42:150:42:17

That is magic news.

0:42:170:42:19

You know, Sharon, Jimmy and Nathan have had it rough

0:42:220:42:26

in these last few years.

0:42:260:42:27

It's time their luck changed and I hope we've gone some little way

0:42:270:42:32

into helping them move on.

0:42:320:42:34

Cowboy Trap visits Chesterfield to help a couple living with a wasteland instead of a front drive, and Warrington to help a family left living in a half-built shell.