GRANDPARENTS have claimed to be £44k out of pocket after a builder botched renovations in their garden – and left the foundations of their house showing.
Sandra, 63, and Stephen West, 62, asked a builder to turn their old decking into a fresh new patio area.
Despite paying the huge sums, they say their house in Kent has been left in a worse state than it was when the work started.
The builder, who the grandparents found through the neighbourhood app Nextdoor, refutes the claims and says the issues were a result of natural causes.
But they say the unfinished work has affected their mental health – with Sandra being prescribed antidepressants by her doctor.
And they say they've been told by a surveyor that the situation could get worse with harsh weather.
Sandra said: "Once a week he would ask me for £2k for this, £5k for that, with more amounts and reasons all the time – it wasn't until I added it up that I was absolutely appalled.
"I couldn't sleep, I've been to the doctors and he put me on antidepressants, and I'm still on them now.
"We paid a lot of money and it's been left in a worse state than before it started."
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Sandra and Stephen, from Benenden, near Tunbridge Wells, bought the house in January 2021.
They decided they wanted a patio months later and found a builder based off of a recommendation online.
In June 2021, the builder began the works but the couple allege they immediately noticed issues with the wall he had constructed.
And they say that due to drainage issues just a couple of months later it had collapsed.
The couple allege he stopped turning up to the property on days he had promised to work, and in December 2021 the grandparents say they saw him for the last time.
They also claim they paid for materials which were never supplied, and say they're still waiting for them to be delivered.
In February 2022, they hired a loss adjuster, who informed them the builder had tried to claim on his insurance, and a structural engineer to assess the damage.
"The structural engineer said we have fissures in the land where it's all moving," said Sandra.
"The house is 20 years old and there have never been signs of issues before, he's damaged the foundation. They said it's safe for now, but harsh weather could make it worse.
"Rain, snow and bad weather has washed away the ground even more and caused landslide.
"It's left us feeling shattered, last year we couldn't even get our heads around what we do now, we can't believe anyone would do this to us.
"We tried everything – we contacted Trading Standards but they said they don't prosecute individuals.
"We went to the police who were initially interested as it was such a large amount of money, but after a couple of weeks we got an email saying it was a civil matter, not criminal.
"A solicitor said that as he is a limited company and hasn't shown any assets, and if we took it further he would just close the company and we wouldn't get anything – they advised us not to throw any more money at it.
"Before you hire a builder, research them. If they're a limited company then check Companies House to see what they're worth as this builder hadn't submitted anything to Companies House.
"Make sure you get guarantees, there's no comeback whatsoever with WhatsApp texts for money."
The builder responsible for the work says the issues were outside of his control and were a result of the ground moving.
He says he tried to claim on his public liability insurance, but says his claim was denied, and he is now waiting for a decision from the insurance ombudsman.
He claims the materials were never delivered to the property as there was no space for them on site.
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