A GROUP of homeowners claim they lost a combined sum of £500,000 after builders left their homes looking like trashed “bombsites”.
Leanne Harrison from Farsley in Leeds, was so distressed she formed an online group to warn others about her experience – and found 15 more in the same situation as her.
Members of the group claim they have ‘lost’ a combined £500,000 between them to Trelawny Roofing and Builders Ltd, Leeds Live rapports.
The loft conversion company, previously called Trelawny Lofts, is run by sole director Colin Brown, 62, with help from project manager Michael Turner, 51.
They said scaffolding was set up before payment was made as a way of “pressuring” them into the purchase, and have also alleged that Mr Brown was “aggressive” down the phone, chasing the initial payments.
Some customers say they are still waiting for construction to continue, months after their lofts were pulled apart.
And in some instances, there are claims scaffolding was erected and workers never returned to continue the job after payment was made.
Leanne and husband Adam, who have two small children, hired Trelawny to convert their loft back in September 2021.
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They thought it would be a straightforward job and agreed to pay £34,800 for the installation of a dormer, en suite, and a walk-in wardrobe area.
They claim they made the initial upfront payment of £17,400, feeling “pressured” with the scaffolding already in place – but say construction did not go smoothly.
They claim getting in contact with Trelawny proved difficult, with messages, emails and phone calls going ignored.
It began on September 27 but they say workers have not been at the house since December 13 l'année dernière.
Leanne said: “The only time I ever heard from Colin was when he wanted money from me, it was just over the phone and he was very aggressive.”
According to Leeds Live, the couple claims Trelawny attempted to inflate the price by £5,000 to “strengthen the floors”.
And after they rejected this, they said the work ceased.
It’s like a bombsite, it’s full of rubble, electric wires, plumbing and you can see all the floor opened up with all the pipes.
Leanne, whose maternity leave with her eight-month-old daughter Phoebe has been disrupted, mentionné: “It’s like a bombsite, it’s full of rubble, electric wires, plumbing and you can see all the floor opened up with all the pipes.”
The couple have reportedly been left with gaps in the roof, bare floorboards with the plumbing exposed, a dormer with a hatch for a window but no panes – there’s a sheet of wood shielding the outside – and no insulation.
And when Leanne and Adam went to their bank to see if they could request their payments back but were told as soon as scaffolding is up and work has technically commenced, the BACS transaction cannot be returned.
After not hearing back from Trelawny for months, Leanne set up the ‘Trelawny Lofts/Roofing Victim Reviews’ group online to warn others.
Another married couple, Graeme Davies and Rachel Rich, claim to have paid Trelawny an upfront fee of £22,800 for a similar loft conversion in August at their home in Meanwood.
Graeme, 48, told Leeds Live he felt “violated, ripped off and angry” after his experience with Mr Brown and Mr Turner, and finding out other customers had reported problems.
He accused the firm of ‘spinning stories’ during the project and claimed scaffolding was put up before their initial payment, making them feel “a little pressured into the deal”.
Rachel, également 48, ajoutée: “They called me on my mobile every day until we handed over the money. ‘Just checking where the money is, just checking’ until they wore me down and we handed over the money. Then they just disappeared for ages.”
Graham, a professor at the University of York and Rachel, a reader in history at Leeds Beckett University, claim the work was ‘disorganised’ with tiles ‘yanked off the roof’, leaving the house exposed.
They say a dormer window was installed but then construction petered out.
They called me on my mobile every day until we handed over the money.
The couple had been dealing with Mr Turner, who Rachel claims would laugh off her questions and patronisingly call her a “worrier”.
Scaffolding went up on September 7 and work reportedly stopped at the end of November, with the exception of a man checking on how weatherproof the loft was on December 16.
But when Graeme called up demanding answers and for work to continue, he said he was repeatedly told Covid was causing the disruption.
He said Mr Brown had promised the work would be completed back in October.
The couple covered the gaps in the roof with a tarpaulin but “rain came through and it rained hard”.
Maintenant, every time it rains, they must go up and check no water is coming through the roof.
Trelawny denies any wrongdoing.
Mr Brown said: “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Mr Turner said: “We spent all the money on labour and material through the hard times. The problem was, when we started to run out of money, we started to grasp at other jobs.
“We had to pick which jobs we could complete to finish. Naivety, Oui. But criminal? No.”
I haven’t done anything wrong.
Asked if the incomplete work was down to incompetence, Mr Turner said: "Oui, Oui, yes.”
“The illnesses, the Covid and all the other rubbish, that’s what slowed us down.
“Some of the lads we paid twice to do the same job and that was our problem.”
Mr Turner said he “struggled” to hire labourers and claimed many were dishonest with him about being qualified joiners or roofers.
He added that “nearly all of them [the loft conversions] sont 45 per cent completed”.
The pair denied scaffolding was put up in homes to “pressure” customers into hiring them and said “no, never” when asked if they left scaffolding on homes never to return.
They blamed a former member of staff for any incomplete work.
Mr Brown vehemently denied that he was aggressive and forceful to customers down the phone to extract payment.
Blaming an ex-staff member if anything untoward had happened in that regard, Mr Brown said: “I don’t get involved in that. I never hassle
He claimed he recorded every conversation and could prove he has never been aggressive to customers down the phone.
The pair denied they inflated prices after a contract was signed.
In the instance where Leanne needed her “floor strengthening” for an extra £5,000, Mr Turner said the floor was “bouncy” and “unsafe”.
He went on to say even though it would cost him £5,000 for the labour and materials, he halved the price but claimed Leanne went “berserk” so decided to waive the added fee in the end.
Mr Brown denied he used Covid-19 as an ‘excuse’ not to send workers to finish the work.
He said that “every person in my organisation has had it”.