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‘It’s been awful’: Builder abandoned couple’s £70,000 extension with no doors

PUBLISHED: 08:25 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:02 24 September 2020

Builder Rowan Parker and the Cranes' £70,000 extension at Long Stratton which was left boarded up. Photo: Facebook/Rosetta Crane

Builder Rowan Parker and the Cranes' £70,000 extension at Long Stratton which was left boarded up. Photo: Facebook/Rosetta Crane

Archant

A couple spent a year living with wooden boards where their new £6,000 bifold doors should have been after a builder abandoned their £70,000 extension.

Builder Rowan Parker abandoned the Cranes' extension in Long Stratton. They paid other tradespeople £20,000 to finish the work, including the bifold doors. Photo: ArchantBuilder Rowan Parker abandoned the Cranes' extension in Long Stratton. They paid other tradespeople £20,000 to finish the work, including the bifold doors. Photo: Archant

Rosetta and Steve Crane, from Long Stratton, were also left with a leaking roof and £20,000 of unfinished work by builder Rowan Parker.

They are the third couple to come forward to this newspaper about Mr Parker abandoning jobs, after being paid.

Mr Parker’s business, SDR Building and Home Improvements Ltd, went into liquidation in August last year, leaving the Cranes’ single-storey extension incomplete.

Mrs Crane said he promised them last year he would return - but he never did.

Builder Rowan Parker abandoned the Cranes' extension in Long Stratton. They paid other tradespeople £20,000 to finish the work, including the bifold doors. Photo: ArchantBuilder Rowan Parker abandoned the Cranes' extension in Long Stratton. They paid other tradespeople £20,000 to finish the work, including the bifold doors. Photo: Archant

“He even came around with a bottle of wine, he said he would get equity from his house to finish our job,” the council worker said. “But we never heard from him again.”

The Cranes paid Mr Parker £70,000 in total for the extension, including to install bifold doors.

But instead he left them with a huge gap where the doors should have been.

“It was very miserable, very cold and very dark,” Mrs Crane said, on living with the back of their house boarded up for 12 months.

The back of the Cranes' house in Long Stratton was boarded up for several months after their builder abandoned the job. Photo: Rosetta CraneThe back of the Cranes' house in Long Stratton was boarded up for several months after their builder abandoned the job. Photo: Rosetta Crane

“It has just been awful. I’ve had to go to the doctors with stress. We hated being in our own home.”

She said she reported Mr Parker, who was declared bankrupt in May this year for the second time, to Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards last year, but has not heard any more from them.

The couple first chose Mr Parker to build their extension in 2017 after seeing the quality of his work on other projects.

He began in summer 2018 and Mrs Crane said in the beginning he was “very enthusiastic but then became elusive”.

The back of the Cranes' house in Long Stratton was boarded up for several months after their builder abandoned the job. Photo: Rosetta CraneThe back of the Cranes' house in Long Stratton was boarded up for several months after their builder abandoned the job. Photo: Rosetta Crane

“We would say to him, ‘we have not seen anybody today’ and he would say ‘somebody is not well or their relative has died, they will come tomorrow’, and then tomorrow would come and nothing happened.

“We were forever chasing him.”

She said the quality of the work was not an issue, but the fact it was left unfinished has caused major problems.

In summer 2019 as they sat in their still incomplete new extension, Mrs Crane said water began leaking down the inside walls.

Builder Rowan Parker. Photo: Facebook/Rowan ParkerBuilder Rowan Parker. Photo: Facebook/Rowan Parker

There was a storm outside and they discovered that Mr Parker had not sealed and finished the roof. Mrs Crane said Mr Parker did visit to carry out a temporary roof repair but they had to pay someone else to finish it, costing more than £6,000.

The patio also has to be redone at a cost of £6,000 after it was built sloping towards the house rather than away from it, meaning rainwater runs to the house.

They have also spent almost £10,000 on buying new doors and windows which they said they had already paid Mr Parker to supply.

After spending £20,000 since Mr Parker left, they have almost completed the work.

The back of the Cranes' house in Long Stratton was boarded up for several months after their builder abandoned the job. Photo: Rosetta CraneThe back of the Cranes' house in Long Stratton was boarded up for several months after their builder abandoned the job. Photo: Rosetta Crane

When we first contacted Mr Parker and his company’s liquidators in August about customers’ issues with SDR, the liquidator said Mr Parker blamed a rise in the number of larger and more complex contracts for the failure of the firm.

He said this led to extended completion dates which, combined with a lack of qualified skills from subcontractors, led to additional work being required in repairs at a cost to the company.

They have not responded to requests for comment since, including about the Cranes’ project.

A Norfolk County Council Trading Standards spokesman said they received complaints when the company went into insolvency last year, but it is not investigating as the company’s liquidator has a duty to investigate.

Builder Rowan Parker abandoned the Cranes' extension in Long Stratton. They paid other tradespeople £20,000 to finish the work, including the bifold doors. Photo: ArchantBuilder Rowan Parker abandoned the Cranes' extension in Long Stratton. They paid other tradespeople £20,000 to finish the work, including the bifold doors. Photo: Archant

They said complaints should be made to the liquidator, Parker Andrews.

The Cranes’ experience with Mr Parker was echoed by June and David Strickland, from Chedgrave, who paid the builder £40,000 for an extension which he never completed.

They said he also told them that he would finish the job, despite his company going into liquidation.

Dick and Amanda Wolsey from Worlingham also said they had paid SDR Building and Home Improvements money for work which was not done.

As reported in August, they paid £6000 in 2018 to repair drains at their home in Worlingham, but Mr Parker never started the project.

For consumer advice contact the Citizens Advice helpline on 0808 223 1133 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer


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