A rogue builder left a woman without a kitchen, water, electricity or gas for months and demanded almost £100,000 was given a suspended prison sentence.
The cowboy builder promised the 60-year-old woman from Stanmore he would create her dream retirement home, instead left her living in a house of nightmares.
Gangandeep Singh, 34, director of Global Constuction Ltd, took £97,000 from the woman and even urged her to re-mortgage her home – draining her of her life savings and leaving her confined to one room, with no kitchen, running water or heating through the winter of 2017.
His victim had contracted Singh to carry out the extensive works on her home after he was recommended by a colleague.
After making an initial payment, Singh began demolition on the property but stopped work after four days and began demanding more money.
At one point telling her to re-mortgage the house to pay him. In total she paid Singh £97k and then spent another £60k to fix the mess he made, leaving her in debt and unable to retire as she planned.
The victim contacted Brent and Harrow Trading Standards when Singh demanded more money and refused to return to continue the work unless she paid more.
Following an investigation, Singh was taken to court.
At Harrow Crown Court on July 25, the court heard that Singh’s victim had suffered ill health as a result of her living conditions, and the stress.
The hearing was told she had fallen several times due to the unsafe condition the property was left in, including trailing wires and loose floorboards.
Global Construction Ltd received a fine of £500 and a statutory charge of £50.
Its owner Mr Singh was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 200 hours of unpaid work and a statutory charge of £140.
Mr Singh was ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to the victim.
Councillor Varsha Parmar, cabinet member for environment said: “This rogue trader’s behaviour wasn’t just unprofessional, it was criminal! He drained her of her life savings and left her to live in squalor – in her own home!
“Thanks to our officers, he’ll now have the threat of potential time in prison if he commits another crime. A genuine trader would not bully you out of money or leave work unfinished.”
Homeowners are advised that if they are considering and building of landscaping work, not to agree anything until you have properly researched the tradesperson and can be satisfied they are professional.
General advice is:
- Do not agree to building works offered by a cold caller
- Never pay cash in advance to a builder
- Where possible, pay by cheque or a credit card
- Obtain a least two written quotes, ideally three and make sure they include all agreed work and materials
- Where possible obtain references, or use recommendations of others.
- Look out for trades people who are registered in proper associations or who come recommended on review websites and check their registrations are valid
- Consult Harrow Council before commencing works to ensure all planning and building controls are being complied with.
To report a rogue builder or for further help and advice, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.