Tony Stanbury is furious with a firm he engaged to design and build a conservatory after they completely botched the job. Now he claims he is more than £14,500 out of pocket despite being promised that the job would be put right.
He wanted a modest, professionally-built structure to increase living space at the rear of his Gosport home.
I now realise what a massive mistake it was to pay all the money up frontTony Stanbury
But he claims that, instead, the contract with Basingstoke company Right Choice Conservatories landed him with an unfinished cowboy construction, a leaking roof and a 16-month ongoing shambles.
Streetwise first told his story last year when the firm promised to step in and solve the problems.
But months on, Tony says nothing has been done.
The Right Choice Conservatories website boasts it has 10 offices across the south and offers a bespoke top-of-the-range conservatory service, installed by ‘experienced craftsmen who take a pride in their work’.
Tony said when he met one of the private firm’s bosses, Richard Burgess, he appeared very professional.
As a result in October 2014 he instructed them to go ahead and build his dream conservatory. But five months later it was still incomplete.
Despite signing up with the firm, he said alarm bells began to ring when tradesmen turned up and insisted on payment.
He became concerned that the workmanship was not up to scratch. But after strenuous attempts to get Mr Burgess to discuss the matter with him, he says he couldn’t get hold of him.
To his anger and dismay, a surveyor’s report subsequently confirmed his worst fears. It listed no fewer than 15 serious flaws requiring significant remedial action to comply with good building practice and professional standards of workmanship.
Tony, a 50-year-old orthopaedic and trauma nurse, said he was devastated.
‘I put my trust in Right Choice,’ he said, ‘but it turned out to be misplaced and they left me in the lurch. I just couldn’t believe it.
‘Apart from an uneven and uninsulated floor with two holes in it, the walls weren’t straight and some of the blocks had little or no cement holding them together. Part of the wall wasn’t even touching the house.
‘The wall cavities had been insulated with loft insulation, the guttering had water sitting in it in places where the fall was wrong and overflowed when it rained.
‘There was no rainwater soakaway, the wall plastering was so bad it needed completely redoing, the drain was left straddling the outer wall and there were no drip trays or wall ties anywhere.’
Tony claims that by last April, he was still unable to get anyone from the firm to sit up and take notice. So he decided enough was enough and contacted Streetwise for help and advice.
We consulted chartered building surveyor and fenestration expert Philip Rougier.
After going over the initial survey report, he concluded the best option would be to take the construction down and start again from scratch.
At the time we put in a number of calls to Right Choice Conservatories and finally got to talk to Mr Burgess.
He readily accepted the construction work wasn’t up to the company’s high standards and insisted he would do whatever needed to be done to ensure Tony was satisfied with the finished product.
At a subsequent site meeting a work schedule was agreed to fix the problems highlighted in the survey report and Tony said he was offered £500 compensation.
Tony says it was an empty promise. He says he hasn’t seen or heard from Mr Burgess since and none of the remedial work was done.
An outraged Tony said: ‘I just want what I paid for, a usable conservatory.
‘I now realise what a massive mistake it was to pay all the money up front.
‘My phone calls weren’t answered, my email protests was ignored and the building survey was dismissed until you first got involved. He still hasn’t spoken to me since we met up last April.’
‘The stress level has been horrendous. Two Christmases have been ruined because I couldn’t use the conservatory when it was first put up and I couldn’t use it last year, so it’s just become a storeroom for odds and ends.
‘I just want a fair deal from this firm. I trusted them and paid all the money when I was asked and I just want to be able to sit out there and relax in the sun in the summer, and make it a place I can enjoy after work.
‘I’m not being unreasonable. He should do the right thing by me, get it sorted and over and done with.’
Streetwise is yet to hear from Mr Burgess despite numerous requests to speak to him. No-one else from the firm felt able to comment.
But the good news is that out of the blue Tony has now received a call from a builder who arranged to inspect his conservatory and agreed it would all have to be pulled down and rebuilt.
A team turned up last Monday and work has finally begun to close the book on what had become his worst nightmare.
‘Thank you again for your help,’ said Tony. ‘I’m sure this time we’re well on our way to the beginning of the end to this appalling experience. It’s been a hard slog, but lessons have been well and truly learned.’