Couple claim they lost £30,000 after 'cowboy' builders bungled their extension and left their home with 'huge cracks' in the walls

A couple claim they have lost almost £30,000 after a 'cowboy builder' bungled an extension to their home, leaving it unsafe.

Luke McLoughlin, 33, and his partner Holli Johnstone, 32, hired Mr K's Builders and Landscape – also known as CK Groundworks – as they needed more space on their end terrace in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire.

But their plans for a single-storey extension were reportedly ruined by builder Chrissy Kitson, who told them they could build on the existing smaller extension, saving a significant amount of money.

He initially charged them £20,000 to carry out the work, which started in October, and they temporarily moved to Holly's father's house with their three-year-old daughter.

It wasn't until they moved back into their house in January that they realized there were serious problems when 'large cracks' started appearing in the walls.

Luke McLoughlin, 33, and his partner Holli Johnstone, 32, hired Mr K's Builders and Landscape as they needed more space on their end terrace in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire

Their plans for a single-storey extension were ruined by builder Chrissy Kitson, who told them they could finish the existing smaller extension, saving a significant amount of money.

Their plans for a single-storey extension were ruined by builder Chrissy Kitson, who told them they could finish the existing smaller extension, saving a significant amount of money.

When they moved back into their home, they realized there were serious problems when

When they moved back into their home, they realized there were serious problems when “big cracks” started appearing in the walls

The floorboards were not connected properly, leaving them 'like a trampoline' and the foundation was not laid correctly

The floorboards were not connected properly, leaving them 'like a trampoline' and the foundation was not laid correctly

They were initially awarded a prize of £20,000, which was much less than they expected

They were initially awarded a prize of £20,000, which was much less than they expected

The couple realized there were structural problems and that they might have hired a cowboy builder

The couple realized there were structural problems and that they might have hired a cowboy builder

Luke said: “When we got £20,000 it was a lot less than we expected so we were very pleased.

'It initially seemed like a dream come true, but it has turned into a living nightmare. The first warning signs we got were when we noticed the windows were jamming.

'They are quite new so we couldn't understand why this was happening. Then big cracks started appearing in the walls and when my dad went to take a look, he told me he thought there were structural problems and that we might have hired a cowboy builder.”

As Luke examined the work more closely, he discovered more problems.

He claims that when he removed plasterboard from the walls there were 'huge holes' in the brickwork and that instead of forming a bridge over pipework and drains, Kitson simply poured concrete into them.

The floorboards were not properly connected, he said, leaving them “like a trampoline” and the foundations were not laid correctly.

Luke said the quote initially

Luke said the quote initially “seemed like a dream come true” but turned into a “living nightmare”

He claims that when he removed plasterboard from the walls there were 'huge holes' in the brickwork

He claims that when he removed plasterboard from the walls there were 'huge holes' in the brickwork

Instead of building a bridge over pipes and drains, Kitson simply poured concrete

Instead of building a bridge over pipes and drains, Kitson simply poured concrete

Another look at the holes in the walls the couple discovered when the builders left

Another look at the holes in the walls the couple discovered when the builders left

Luke claims builders used facilities in his home and damaged items including a kettle, heating thermostat, baby gate, outdoor storage boxes and a hose.

Luke claims builders used facilities in his home and damaged items including a kettle, heating thermostat, baby gate, outdoor storage boxes and a hose.

He also claims builders used facilities in his home and damaged items including a kettle, heating thermostat, baby gate, outdoor storage boxes and a garden hose.

Luke was so concerned that he was forced to contact building control at Calderdale Council to inspect the work, which rose in price to £28,500, and was advised to demolish the extension and start again.

A letter from Fraser Ambrose, the building inspector, states: 'When the previous contractor poured the concrete foundations, they filled the bottom of the trench with filled material (earth etc.) before pouring the concrete foundations.

'By filling the base of the foundation with filled material, the contractor has reduced the overall depth of the foundation, which has resulted in the foundation placing a load on the Yorkshire Water public sewer running through the extension.

'Loads placed on a sewer can damage the sewer, causing blockages and damage to the extension. This will require measures to deepen the foundation, below the bottom of the sewer down to suitable natural soil.'

It continues: 'One option available is to underpin the extension (a significant portion of the foundation may need to be supported).

'Alternatively, the extension could be demolished and rebuilt. Ultimately it is the decision of the owners of the building how you want to proceed with the project.'

Luke says Mr Kitson refused to comply with building control and because he did not trust him to complete the work satisfactorily, he ordered him off the site.

Luke was forced to contact Calderdale Council building control to inspect the work

Luke was forced to contact Calderdale Council building control to inspect the work

After the inspection, the couple was advised to demolish the extension and start over

After the inspection, the couple was advised to demolish the extension and start over

By the time they had spoken to building control the cost of the work had risen to £28,500

By the time they had spoken to building control the cost of the work had risen to £28,500

He has since brought in new builders so his extension can be completed, which will cost him extra money.

Luke is demanding a partial refund from Mr Kitson of £15,000, acknowledging some money was spent on materials, but says he was only offered £2,500 and the builder has refused to provide details of his insurers.

“We had to borrow more money to get the work done,” he said.

'So the extension will probably cost as much as a two-storey extension.

“It's been so stressful and we want to caution people to do their research before hiring a builder.” He added that he was reluctant to file a claim in court because of the additional costs.

Cllr Scott Patient, Calderdale Council's Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Active Travel and Housing, said they were working with the couple 'to deliver a safe, comfortable and compliant extension'.

He said: 'We urge all building owners considering projects to be careful when choosing designers, builders, contractors and tradesmen.

'Always collect testimonials from people you know and trust, and details such as their full name, trading name, business address, contact details, professional qualifications, experience and insurance details.

'Do not pay any money until the end unless the contract stipulates installment payments, and seek professional assistance with the contract and supervision of the construction work.'

He added that the council had the power to take enforcement action against traders if necessary.

Mr Kitson was contacted for comment.

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