Customers slam 'blasé and arrogant' builder John Miller who took thousands of pounds off them
PUBLISHED: 08:02 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:18 07 March 2019
The many ways John Miller let down his customers were as diverse as the jobs he claimed he could do.
But his methods each time were blunt - and devastating for those who trusted him.
The builder, from Three Mile Lane, Costessey, would under quote for a project and begin work quickly.
All would go well at the start and customers paid him promptly.
But then the workmen would stop turning up and the projects slowed down.
Miller would ask his desperate customers for more money to complete the job. Many felt they had little choice but to pay until eventually Miller would leave the job unfinished.
His customers were left with huge bills to undo the damage Miller had wrought - and until last month, no way of redress for messing up £200,000 worth of projects.
Thorpe St Andrew businessman Nick Chudasama had a court grant an order in January 2016 for Miller to pay him £14,000 for an extension which then had to be rebuilt.
But the 46-year old simply did not pay.
Mr Chudasama’s case first appeared in this newspaper in 2017 and the article would later be used by Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards as evidence against Miller, while more victims came forward after reading it.
Speaking after Miller was found guilty following his trial at Norwich Crown Court in January, Mr Chudasama, 61, accused Miller of “mismanagement, incompetence, broken promises and lies”.
“Our lives had been turned upside down,” he said. “How can it be OK for someone to blatantly ignore a court judgement awarded against him?”
By 2017 Miller was already on the radar of Norfolk Trading Standards. They first had reports about him in 2015.
And nine of his former customers would eventually come forward, leading to him facing three charges of fraudulent trading for “failing to carry out the work with reasonable care and skill”.
He faced another charge of money laundering for using his wife’s bank account to put in cash from the fraudulent trading of one of his firms, JGM Construction Services Ltd.
His wife Catherine Miller was charged alongside him with money laundering but the case against her was dropped during the trial.
Her husband was found not guilty of fraudulent trading for one of the projects but guilty in the other eight.
Projects Miller messed up included that of Cheryl and Robert Curtis who asked him in June 2016 to build an extension on their property near the UEA which was rented to students.
They needed the work completed by September when the students returned from holidays.
Miller quoted £50,000 and work began but was never completed in time for the students’ return. But that was the least of the Curtis’ problems.
A contractor who was not a specialist had done the plumbing, roofing and electrics and Mrs Curtis found lots of poor workmanship.
But Miller kept asking for more money to complete the job.
In total Mrs Curtis paid Miller £42,300 while remedial work cost another £32,350.
Then there was the Pearson family in Earlham.
Four years ago Miller started building an annexe at the back of their home on Friends Road.
Paul Pearson and his family were meant to move into the main property with the in-laws moving to the annexe.
Their budget of £39,000 came from a pension and life-savings.
Work began in April 2015 and was meant to finish that summer. By December, still unfinished, Miller blamed “problems with cashflow”.
He left the annexe with missing roof tiles, no toilet or electrics.
“It was uninhabitable,” Mr Pearson said. “The toilet roof was leaking, there was damp, the floors and walls were not finished. There was no toilet or sink or radiators.”
Gavin and Amy Cranmer, meanwhile, asked Miller to do £30,000 worth of work on their new home in December 2016.
They wanted a double-storey extension but got a half-finished job which has cost them another £20,000 to fix at their home in Horsford.
Miller told them he could complete the job in 12 weeks. More than two years later they are still trying to finish it.
The new windows leaked, none of the rooms were plastered and the roof was not finished.
Mr Cranmer said: “The whole experience has left me falling out of love with my home.”
Mrs Cranmer added “He is an arrogant man. It has had a massive financial impact on us up to today. We had to sell my husband’s car and borrow from the bank.”
Another customer, Stuart Firth and his young family, from Dilham, were left without heating by Miller.
Mr Firth hired Miller to build a two-storey extension on his home near North Walsham.
Miller had quoted £19,000 in February 2017 and said the work would take 10 weeks.
Once again, the work slowed down after payment and by May it was at a standstill.
Mark Hubble, meanwhile, hired Miller for an extension at his new home in Horsford.
The cost was £16,000 and would take six weeks, Miller said adding “no extras, I don’t add anything on, everything you need will be included in that”.
Work began and Mr Hubble then went on holiday in April. When he returned he found only one side wall was half built, the other had been barely started and nothing had been done at the front of the extension.
In April a building inspector visited and asked to see the structural calculations for the roof. Miller never returned to complete the work.
Mr Hubble described Miller as “blasé and arrogant”.
Another customer, Hayley Dyball decided to build an extension at her Taverham home in November 2017.
She paid Miller £18,075 but when he stopped working on the site she uncovered a series of problems including leaks coming through walls.
Colin Yaxley in Old Catton, meanwhile, asked Miller for a single-storey extension which would cost him £33,000.
He also went on holiday during the build in May 2016 and when Mr Yaxley returned, having paid £15,000, the only work completed was the erection of two walls and removal of soil.
He accused Miller of making “schoolboy errors”.
In his defence Miller accused customers, tradesmen and architects of letting him down.
He said he had been under immense pressure trying to meet the needs of his clients and admitted he had let some people down.