Work on hold
Charly Tabash chats to Rachel
This week X-Ray’s been back on the case of Newport builder Stephen Roberts who left one former army doctor with an expensive and unfinished home renovation.
We first told you about this story in February when doctor Tom Cayless decided to renovate his first home using Newport-based Buildtech Construction 33 Ltd, run by Stephen Roberts.
Tom was quoted £22,000 for an 8 week job last April. But 11 months and £34,000 later the work still isn't finished.
Tom said, “I can't move in in the state that it is in at the moment, the electricity hasn't been completed, the central heating hasn't been completed, there's no bathroom fitted so it's completely uninhabitable at the minute.”
After X-Ray wrote to him, Stephen Roberts hired a quantity surveyor who claimed the finished work would be worth £35,000. Mr Roberts said there were only two weeks left to finish the job. But when we sent chartered surveyor Tim Davies to examine Tom's house he had a different view.
Tim told us, “I'd say there's about 6-8 weeks to do this properly. I can't see how you could justify £34,000 worth of work having being properly completed in the property. My view is that this is more likely to be around the low £20,000 sort of mark.”
Tim Davies was shocked by the mess left in the back garden and the standard of work that had been carried out.
“My main concern is that a lot of work is still outstanding and a lot of work that's been supposedly completed hasn't been done correctly in the right sequence. I am very concerned about things like lead pipework being left in, it's readily identifiable. To leave the old lead piping is quite unforgivable.
”From what I've seen it doesn't convince me that this has been carried out by experienced building professionals.”
It's a worrying picture but Mr Roberts promised in February he was always going to finish Tom's property .
At the time Stephen Roberts told us that his business had run into difficulties because his previous business partner had taken money from him.
He reassured us verbally he would finish the job and that it should take two weeks, but he later seemed to back track on that promise.
But Dr Cayless is not the only one to be left severely out of pocket after hiring Stephen Roberts. In Cardiff Charly Tabash has had a similar experience.
Mr Tabash wanted to renovate a property in Cardiff into two flats. Stephen Roberts came highly recommended by a builder he’d used in the past. Thinking he was in safe hands, Charly hired them both last September – at the same time as Tom was waiting for his renovation to be finished.
Like Tom, Charly saw that Mr Roberts displayed Guild Of Master Craftsmen logos on his official paperwork and vans. They both believed they were genuine but when we got in contact with the Guild they said Stephen Roberts was not a member.
Charly was quoted £45,000 for a 10-week renovation and like Tom, he was assured the balance was due when the job was complete.
He said, “Well they've asked from the start to be paid half in cash, half by cheque but every time I came to write a cheque for them they refused to take it and they would say they want to pay the wages for their builders, so in the end I had to run and get the cash every time, and there was one week in particular where I had to go with them to a building supplying merchant and I had to give them £2,000 myself to the supplier."
Six months later Charly had paid around £48,000 and despite a string of unfinished jobs he hadn't seen the builders since December.
He said, “The last three months it's been a nightmare cos I want it finished to rent it out and since beginning of December nothing happened on this house.”
Like Tom, Charly is still waiting for the big jobs like plumbing to be finished. Stephen Roberts has told him that the builder who introduced them has taken some of the money Charly paid for the work, but that builder told Charly a different story.
Charly said, “They are blaming each other and I am right in the middle and I do not know who to believe now.”
If it sounds familiar that’s because Tom Cayless was told something similar. Mr Roberts told us that Tom Cayless's renovation had fallen into difficulty because a previous business associate had taken money. He stopped working with him, but didn't call the police.
We’ve been in contact with Mr Roberts and he’s now been back to Tom and Charly's properties and is promising to finish the work. Previously Tom and Charly had tried unsuccessfully to get him to go back to their properties and finish the work.
He has declined to comment on the standard of work in Dr Tom Cayless’ property and the findings of chartered surveyor Tim Daives.
When X-Ray spoke to Mr Roberts he is still blaming the two previous business associates who he says took money from him that had paid to complete the work. However, he has never provided X-Ray of any proof of this.