We paid a builder our £50k life savings but extension was so bad it had to be DEMOLISHED

A DEVESTATED couple have lost their life savings and have been forced to live on a construction site after cowboy builders left them with an “unsafe” extension – which had to be demolished.

James Bradshaw forked out £50,000 to extend his home in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, after a friend’s recommendation.

James Bradshaw and his family have been left devastated after the builder refused to complete the work
James Bradshaw and his family have been left devastated after the builder refused to complete the workCredit: Kennedy News
The extension had to be demolished as it was unsafe
The extension had to be demolished as it was unsafeCredit: Kennedy News

The 39-year-old hired a builder to add a two-storey extension to the family home and agreed to pay almost £70,000 for it to be completed by August 2021.

But after months of issues, delays and “shoddy” workmanship James claims the tradesman quit as he “didn’t want the stress”.

It left the family £50k out of pocket and living on a “building site” with the unfinished work causing safety fears.

James claims the builder would only work five hour days, and after his complaint he vanished with his cash.

A surveyor assessed the work that had been done and concluded it needed to be completely demolished and restarted due to structural issues.

When James contacted a solicitor he was advised not to bother taking the builder to court as he “won’t see a penny “of his hard-earned savings again – even if he wins the case.

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He is now urging other people to be wary of “cowboy builders” who take advantage of “conscientious and decent people”.

James said: “The reason we were having the extension done is because we’ve had a daughter and we have three children living with us already – my son and my fiancée’s two children.

“We were having the extension done to create two extra bedrooms and to extend the kitchen and dining room to have a bit more space for the kids.

“It was shocking from day one. He never did a full week, he’d only turn up two to three times a week if at all and he’d turn up at 10:30am and leave at 3pm.

“Every time the building inspector came to review the work he’d done it kept getting failed so he had to redo lots of it.

“Eventually I said to him, ‘You need to come in for a meeting because this just isn’t good enough’.

“As he walked through the door he said, ‘I’m going to give you your money back and you can get someone else to complete it because I can’t get it done and I don’t want the stress anymore’.

“He only offered us £3,000 back and I just said, ‘You’re a joke and you’ll be hearing from our solicitors.

“He left our house in the state it’s in and we haven’t spoken to him since.

“It’s been a nightmare. It’s put a lot of strain on mine and my partner’s life and caused a lot of devastation for our family.

“We’d been saving the money for about 15 years and we’d got a loan to help as well which we’re still paying back at the minute.”

It’s been a nightmare. It’s put a lot of strain on mine and my partner’s life and caused a lot of devastation for our family

James Bradshaw

The family had hoped that the extension would create two extra bedrooms and an extended kitchen and dining area within 14 weeks – for a cost of £68,450.

But two months after the work was supposed to be finished they were only left with an incomplete single-storey and a plank of wood blocking where the back door used to be.

James and his family had forked out a whopping £47,643 for the work that had been done, and were devastated when it had to be ripped down.

The surveyors report found that the entire structure was at risk of damp due to multiple issues, including mortar breaching the wall cavities, and “lazy workmanship” was evident.

Overall the report concluded: “Considering the overall condition of the build we would recommend that it is removed down to foundation level and the structure started again.”

Demolishing the work would cost an additional £875, so the family attempted to get their money back through a solicitor.

But they were advised that while they would win in court, they would “never see a penny” of their money again.

James added: “I had a meeting with the solicitor and said, ‘Don’t tell me what I want to hear, tell me the honest truth’.

“Her words were, ‘The only person that wins in this is the solicitors because we get paid either way, it’s going to cost you £15,000 to £20,000 to go to court’.

“She said, ‘You will win in court but his solicitor will advise him to shut the company down because he hasn’t got the money to pay it back so you won’t see a penny’.

“Two days after we received the court letter it came up on Facebook that the company was closed so I think he’s already shut it down.

“We’ve looked into his history a bit now as well and he’s well known for opening companies and shutting them down – I think this is the fourth company he’s done that with since 2017.”


The family had new builders start at their home last week, January 24th, to demolish the unstable structure and restart the extension.

But at a new estimated cost of £109,000, they can no longer afford to get much of the project done.

The heartbroken dad hopes that by warning people about the “dishonest and unreliable cowboy”, he can help other families avoid the same fate.

James said: “There’s nothing we can do now, we just have to bite the bullet that we’re not going to get anything from it because the system doesn’t support this kind of thing.

“We’ve got new builders in now but because we’ve wasted so much money we can only afford to get the shell done and we’ll have to do the inside stage by stage.

“The new quote to put right and finish it is £109,000 because there’s been a huge increase in prices of building materials and labour as well as the extra work of demolishing it.”

A surveyor's report revealed several issues with the workmanship
A surveyor’s report revealed several issues with the workmanshipCredit: Kennedy News
James and his family have had their life savings wiped out
James and his family have had their life savings wiped outCredit: Kennedy News

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