Matt, Dan and a chap on a hot tin roof...
When you live in Lancashire, you need a good roof. While the county can claim to have higher than the UK average amount of sunshine each year, the area also has more rain than the England average! So you'd hope a roofing company with 20 years' experience in Lancashire would know what they're doing.
Sadly, that isn't the case with 1st Call Roofing of Whalley near Clitheroe, and there are a few things you should know about the man who runs the business too. Simon Fielding is a football hooligan recently convicted of assault after being involved in a fight following a Blackburn Rovers game. He's also been banned from keeping horses for 10 years after pleading guilty to animal cruelty. His roofing record makes grim reading too...
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Janet Yuen asked Simon Fielding to do some work on her roof which was leaking and needed a complete overhaul. Simon was supposed to replace all the damaged slates, replace the lead around the chimney, and re-point the ridge tiles. Simon got on with the work and when finished he charged her £2,800. But he'd done a terrible job, which Janet only discovered when she went up to have a look.
"I put my head through the loft, I could see there was daylight showing through the tiles," Janet said.
Janet called Simon Fielding back to rectify the problem, but after he'd made several attempts, Janet could still see daylight. By this point, she'd asked Simon to do some other work on her house, but because she'd now lost confidence in his roof work, she asked him to leave, refused to pay him any more money and got another firm in to check her roof. Janet told us what they found:
"He hadn't replaced my lead flashing he just cleaned them up to look like new. There were a lot of broken tiles up there. There were nails through tiles which weren't covered by another tile, so when it rained the water would have gone through the holes. Basically, it was just a very bad job."
The new company said it would cost Janet another £4,800 to correct all the problems, and to make matters worse, Simon Fielding was now chasing her for money she says she didn't owe him.
Janet is by no means alone. Rogue Traders has heard of other customers who'd employed Simon Fielding to repair their roof. The majority of complaints concern flat roofs, such as porches and garages which have leaked after Simon had re-felted them. So to find out where he was going wrong, we found a house in Burnley with a leaking porch roof that needed re-felting, and called out 1st Call Roofing.
As Simon Fielding and his team arrived, roofing expert Barry Cross was hidden at the back of the house, watching a video feed from hidden cameras. And it wasn't long before Barry had cause to complain. Once Simon had stripped the old felt off the porch roof, he tried to make out that our upper flat roof needed replacing too because it was leaking. He also claimed that we had a row of roof tiles missing and some were broken.
Barry's verdict? "Nonsense".
None of the tiles were missing or broken, just a few had slipped. And the while the upper flat roof was a bit old, it wasn't leaking and didn't need replacing. To put all these fictitious problems right, Simon wanted another £900. Our undercover homeowner, Kyra, told him to just get on with the job we'd called him out for.
Simon and his workmates started laying the new felt using a blow torch, but in doing so they had us on the edge of our seats. Because they'd not let the first layer cool properly, the man operating the torch kept getting glued to the roof. Then, if that wasn't bad enough, he let the burning torch rest on the side of the roof while his colleague walked underneath it. We watched in horror as the torch started to slip but thankfully, it didn't fall.
We could see that the quality of the re-felting work was poor, but to be certain how bad it was, we needed a closer look. When Simon had finished, we paid him the £700 he was asking for - about £200 more than the going rate for a simple re-felt job - and when they'd gone, Barry Cross inspected their handiwork. It was even worse than he'd imagined.
The felt had been cut very unevenly, not enough care had been taken on the edges, and the strip of felt at the back was neither cut correctly, or stuck properly to the wall. There were large gaps where water could penetrate. We asked Barry Cross to give the job a mark out of ten:
"I'm struggling to give one. It really is an awful job."
Within days, and after several rain showers, the roof was leaking again, far worse than before, and we concluded that the whole roof would have to be re-felted once more.
Rogue Traders wrote to Simon Fielding to outline our findings and to ask him to refund us the cost of putting the roof right. His solicitor replied to say that Mr Fielding didn't accept our assertions or Janet Yuen's either, and that his sticky colleague did not accept the criticisms of his workmanship on our flat roof.
His reply failed to address any of our questions about the quality of Mr Fielding's work, and failed to address the shortcomings with his work at Janet Yuen's house. Instead, he claimed that Janet Yuen owed Simon Fielding money - a claim she denies.
However, as a gesture of goodwill, Simon Fielding's solicitor said Mr Fielding would arrange to refund the BBC £276. Five weeks later, we were still waiting for our money, so presenter Matt Allwright decided to confront him.
Matt caught up with Simon Fielding on a street in Clitheroe, and it didn't go well. When Matt asked Simon for our money back, and tried to ask him questions as he got in his van, Mr Fielding appeared to swing a punch which missed. Then he drove off, narrowly missing Matt and our crew...
Please note: The company, 1st Call Roofing, covered in this week's story are nothing to do with other businesses who have similar-sounding names.