‘I’ve lost £80,000’ - homeowner’s regret as builder vows to compensate for botched extension
PUBLISHED: 11:16 16 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 16 August 2020
A builder has promised to compensate a mother-of-two after she was left almost £80,000 out of pocket following a botched home extension which had to be torn down.
Vicki Mileham, 50, a nurse who lives at Heather Gardens in Belton, was supposed to end up with a two-storey side extension for herself and her 14-year-old twin daughters, costing £32,000.
Instead, bank statements show she transferred a total of £79,550 to the contracted builders for work which was never completed.
She said: “We signed the contract in November 2019 with Diamond Standard Renovations, and by December it was apparent they were totally out of their depth.
“They kept saying they’d gone overbudget and I needed to transfer more money.
“But by the time they left the site when lockdown hit in late March, I’d been left with a sagging roof, diagonal walls, an insecure RSJ, dangling live electrical cables and gas pipes which had been built into the cavity wall.
“Virtually everything but the footings had to later be removed.”
But Reece Lloyd, one of the builders who co-signed the contract with Ms Mileham alongside his business partner Kyle Muir, said he “acknowledges what he has done”.
He said: “I wasn’t in a good place at the time and I am sorry for what I did.
“As far as bankruptcy goes I will be looking into a way of paying her back with no assets involved, but it will be a very long process.
“I have resumed working with my old employer who will vouch that I never meant to build something which would have to be torn down.
“Vicki has recently sent me a letter for what compensation she wants which I am in the process of replying to.”
But Mr Lloyd added that his ex-business partner Mr Muir “left the company at roof height” and, as a result, Mr Lloyd said the job became “very overwhelming”.
In response, Mr Muir said that what happened at the property is “not his responsibility”.
He said: “I sold my part of the company to Mr Lloyd in December 2019 after our relationship broke down.”
According to Alan Osborne, who works for the council-approved independent inspectorate Build Insight, the cheapest course of action for Ms Mileham was outright demolition.
He was not able to visit the property in March due to government recommendations, but assessed the security of the build via photographs and descriptions from Ms Mileham’s neighbours.
He said: “From what I could see, the brickwork was clearly out of plumb and one of the newly-built walls hadn’t actually been secured to the existing property.
“We always check if the work is secure, rather than taking workmanship into account - but it’s a striking achievement to build a diagonal wall.”
A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council trading standards said they had been informed of the situation by Ms Mileham, and are “in direct contact with the consumer”.
But for Ms Mileham, taking out two loans to pay for the work, maxing out a credit card and remortgaging her house will mean she is in debt “until she’s 68”.
She said: “The past few months have been horrible. Not only have we been living without an oven or even running water, but I just feel naive to have taken these guys on.
“They were recommended to me on Facebook, had a professional portfolio and were by no means the cheapest option. It turns out I was manipulated and now I’ve lost everything.
“The contract we signed said they’d do all the building work and fit the new kitchen and bathroom - I now realise that was probably too good to be true.”
However, Ms Mileham said that a “blossoming friendship” between herself and her neighbours was the one positive outcome of the ordeal.
She said: “My neighbours watched the work from afar and eventually intervened when it was clear my house was unsafe. I felt helpless but I’m so grateful for what they did.”
Chantelle Hutchinson, 26 and three doors down, set up a fundraising page during lockdown asking for manpower and material donations, while Ms Mileham’s neighbours began dismantling the botched extension themselves in April.
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