Attleborough couple spent £140,000 fixing £45,000 building project gone wrong

Norwich Magistrates' Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Magistrates' Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A vulnerable couple had to spend £140,000 redoing a home extension they initially paid £45,000 for after their builder messed up the project, a court has heard.

The couple, aged 75 from Attleborough, hired builder Alan Blanchflower in April 2015 to knock down their conservatory and build an extension with a downstairs bedroom as one of them had Parkinson's disease.

But after paying for the work, the project at Croft Green hit a litany of problems, Norwich magistrates heard on Friday.

Blanchflower, of Chapel Street Rockland St Peter, pleaded guilty to a charge of knowingly/recklessly engaging in a commercial practice in contravention of Unfair Trading Regulations.

Geoff Baker - from Norfolk Trading Standards, who prosecuted Blanchflower - said the couple paid £45,000 to Blanchflower between April and November 2015.

But when a building inspector from Breckland Council visited the home, he found problems with the roof and drainage. The customers then found out money they had given to Blanchflower, 59, to buy windows had been spent on a different building project.

They asked for their money back and told him to leave with the work still unfinished.

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He paid them back £8,200 for the windows, the court was told, but their problems continued.

Mr Baker said the 'vulnerable' couple hired a surveyor who recommended the extension needed to be taken down and started again. There were defects with the roof, walls, floors and foundations. Mr Baker said: 'The work was to give him (the customer) more practical and pleasant living arrangements, but it has caused his health to decrease due to the stress.'

Ian Fisher, mitigating for Blanchflower, said the builder previously had a good reputation but had hit problems with this project by over stretching himself.

He said Blanchflower had not kept an eye on the standard of workmanship of the people doing the project for him. 'He is remorseful. He is not a rogue builder,' Mr Fisher said. 'Things went seriously wrong here and he is not trying to cover anything up.'

He said Blanchflower was declared bankrupt in March this year due to the amount of tax he owed to HMRC. Magistrates sent the case to crown court for sentencing. Blanchflower was released on unconditional bail.