A DEVASTATED couple face a legal battle after they were left victims of a cowboy builder.
Paul Newbrook was fined £5,000 at South Tyneside Magistrates Court yesterday after a botched job on a kitchen extension at the home of John and Caroline Collins.
Now the couple, who have been ordered to demolish the building, are planning to take civil action against Newbrook after being left £7,500 out of pocket.
Mrs Collins, 63, of Harton House Road, South Shields, said: “We are glad he has been fined. £5,000 is a reasonable amount and at least he hasn’t got away with it.
“We’re now going to look into pursuing the matter through the civil courts, to see if we can get some of our money back.
She added: “It’s not just about the money, it’s about the emotional distress we’ve been put through too.”
Nearly a year after work started on their dream kitchen, the couple’s home is still in ruins.
PVC windows don’t have handles, doors have dropped in their frames and cables have been left exposed.
The extension has also suffered water damage due to lack of damp proofing, and it was built over a drain which has compromised its stability.
The work was also not registered with planners.
Mr Collins, 62, said: “It’s just been awful having to live like this. We haven’t had a kitchen now for almost a year, and we have been told it has to come down.
“We just want other people to see how easy it is to get in a mess like we have.
“We hope others will see this as a warning, to make sure they get a reputable builder.”
After Newbrook was recommended to them by a friend, the couple paid him to carry out the work in a series of instalments.
However, after just a few weeks, they realised the job was starting to look shoddy.
Mr Collins said: “We asked him to come back a number of times to finish the floor off. That’s when we realised the extent of the mistakes he’d made.”
When a new builder arrived to carry out the work, he spotted damp patches on the extension’s main support joist, and noticed that the kitchen was built over a drain.
Mr Collins, a retired coal board worker, said: “Once we do knock it down, we know it can’t be built the same size, due to the drains.
“That makes it impossible to try to order in the actual kitchen, because we don’t know how big it’s going to be.
“We have already lost so much money, but we’ve been told it does have to come down.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “Building regulations are in place to protect the public and to ensure that any alterations to buildings are carried out safely and in accordance with the law.
“Bringing a prosecution is a last resort, but in this case we were left with no option after repeated opportunities to rectify the problems went ignored by Mr Newbrook.
“In general most building work requires building regulation approval, including home extensions and conversions.
“If anyone is in doubt about any works they are proposing to undertake we would encourage them to contact the building control team for advice.”