Builder prosecuted over shoddy work

A builder has been sentenced to 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay a total of £2,000 in compensation after walking away from unfinished jobs.

Peter Hales was sentenced at Belfast’s Laganside Magistrates’ Court on 4 August after he had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in a case brought by the Trading Standards Service (TSS) of Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

TSS investigated Mr Hales, trading as 858 Building Services of Parklands, Belfast, after two customers complained about the poor quality of his work on extensions at properties in Belfastand Coagh, Co Tyrone.

The first customer ended up paying another builder to put right and rectify Mr Hales work. Although he had been given plans approved by the local authority’s building control team, he replaced a block wall with a stud wall without checking whether this would be structurally sound and also failed to stick to the agreed work and payment schedule.

The second customer paid Mr Hales £25,500 for building a two-storey extension at his home. After obtaining large advances, he carried out work to a poor standard, then walked away from the job, forcing the customer and his family to live in rented accommodation. An independent report estimated that only around £15,000 worth of work had been completed.

Lisa Mallon of the TSS said: “It would appear from the outset that Mr Hales has shown a lack of competence and is far from what could be considered a professional builder. There is evidence of a trader who appears to under quote the price of the job to ensure he secures the contract. He failed twice to follow plans approved for the clients by building control and walked away from the jobs without finishing the scheduled work, despite having made a profit.”

“The victims in this case suffered a great deal of financial and emotional stress as a result of Mr Hales’ actions. The second case, in particular, has had a devastating impact on the family concerned.”

Palmers’ construction law specialist Adam Davis said: “Building work on someone’s home is likely to involve substantial amounts of money so putting in place a contract with the builder is a wise investment in reducing the likelihood of a dispute, as well as supporting the smooth running of the project.

“A contract will also provide protection where the work was below standard or the builder tries to charge more than originally agreed.

“Where builders offer their own standard contract, or an industry standard document, we can review these for homeowners to ensure it provides the protection they are seeking, making amendments as required or drafting bespoke contracts.  For more information, please contact our Construction team.”