Builder did a runner and ruined our home
Desperate mum in plea for help after wetroom disaster
A devastated Wishaw mum ploughed her life savings into an extension to make life easier for her disabled son – only for the builders to vanish.
Now Catherine McKendry has issued a desperate plea to local tradespeople and volunteers to help repair her ruined home after the botched building job.
Tearful Catherine says the home she shares with son James, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, has been ruined by Fife-based builders who took £28,000 of her cash before going bust and leaving her with a botched extension that is “not fit for purpose.”
Midwife Catherine, 47, sank her savings into the project, which should have given James a bedroom and adjoining wetroom all on one level.
The job – which she awarded to James Thomson, trading as Whitehill Builders Ltd, after finding the firm through Rated People – started in November 2016.
Trusting Catherine transferred £5000 a week by bank transfer as the extension progressed.
Three weeks into the project, which was due to take six weeks, she says workers stopped turning up, leaving her with a wetroom that does not meet accessible standards, water that doesn’t drain from the shower, a sliding door that fell off on first use, holes on the exterior and inferior plasterwork.
Catherine tried to reach Thomson when she realised the extent of the problems but his mobile was unobtainable. She sent emails but heard nothing.
When she contacted a local contractor for a quote to rectify the wetroom and redo the plasterwork, she was horrified to receive an estimate of £ 9000 – money she doesn’t have.
The local contractor advised her the wetroom needs to be ripped out, pipes relaid and a new floor installed with new fittings.
“There were problems from the start. They cut through the mains electricity for the whole street on the first day. By week three, no one was turning up. Then I was told James Thomson was in hospital.
“Two of his workers came but did very little. The result was we were sitting in a building site with a hole in the side of the house covered with tarpaulin over Christmas and New Year,” explained Catherine, who said work resumed in January. “The drain, which should be at the shower, is in the wrong place so the water doesn’t run away so the shower can’t be used. It is not fit for purpose.
“The floor moves when you walk on it and the place smells of sewage when you flush the toilet. The place is also freezing. They added a tiny radiator as an afterthought but it doesn’t work properly.
“The toilet is also too low – it’s not at disabled access height. None of the walls are straight, all the plaster work needs to be replaced and the outside area, which they promised to return with a digger to fix, was left with big holes and has not been finished off or roughcasted.
“There were too many issues and they were not capable of sorting them. They have ruined my home and there’s no way of fixing it. I feel like I have lost everything.
“James is in his bedroom in the extension downstairs but it’s freezing. He is 29 and a big lad. I struggle to get him in and out of the bath. He has cerebral palsy which means he can’t use his left hand and epilepsy and after he takes a fit he is in bed for a couple of days.”
Catherine, who works at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow, is at the end of her tether.
The emotional mum added: “This is devastating. I can’t afford to pay someone else to do the work properly.
“This was supposed to give James a new lease of life. Instead, it has ruined our home and set us both back. It has left me in a dire financial situation.”
And she appealed: “If anyone knows of any local companies or charities who would offer materials, time or help to try to complete the project, I would greatly appreciate their help.”
The Wishaw Press’s sister paper, the Sunday Mail, discovered that Thomson and his wife Allison had been fined £ 300 and £ 1500 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court in October 2016 for a string of breaches of trading regulations.
The liquidators of their limited company, wound up by HMRC in September for failing to pay tax, have reported the Thomsons to The Insolvency Service for refusing to co-operate. When the Wishaw Press attempted to contact Whitehill Builders for comment, the line was unobtainable.
Allison Thomson previously told the Sunday Mail that the job was only two days late, which Catherine refutes, and that she had posted a glowing review.
Catherine said the firm had asked her to post online to help trade, making promises the work would be completed but it never was.
Thomson had said the issue with the floor was not their doing, the ceiling was fit for purpose, the drain was where Catherine wanted it, the toilet was purchased in agreement with Catherine, the walls were straight and the radiator meets regulations.
She denied the outside of the property was left a mess and said: “We will not be refunding any money.”
Anyone who can assist by donating materials, skills or time should contact Catherine on 07488 259520.
This was supposed to give James a new lease of life, instead it has ruined our home and left me in a dire financial situation
Gutted Catherine and son James
Shoddy work Left by builders