A great-grandmother has been left in a virtually uninhabitable home after allegedly being ripped off to the tune of £9000 by her builder.
Enid Winnifred Wilson, 91, took out a lifetime mortgage so that she could install a disabled-accessible kitchen and shower room at her home in Birmingham.
The pensioner, who has lived at the property for 60 years, started having the renovation works done in mid-April and was told they would take six to eight weeks.
She moved in with relatives in London to allow Romai Golaub, the owner of Niiyann Property Maintenance and Renovations Ltd, to carry out the work.
Over half a year later, Enid’s house has been left a complete mess with gutted rooms, crumbling brickwork and rubbish dumped outside.
Enid’s granddaughter, Julia, claims she has not heard from Romai in a month – and believes he has “run off” with the £9,000 provided for materials.
She told the Mirror: “It makes me feel so stupid in hindsight that we paid him up front when he was saying he needed it for the equipment.
“We had been asking him what the progress was, and he kept giving us these excuses, then even sent us photos of the wrong house, and we were like ‘looks really good!’
“He completely flummoxed us. It’s absolutely disgusting what he’s done.
“For me, I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else, him sweet-talking into making people do something like that. I feel bad enough.
“He’s not kept in contact with us, he’s not tried to make good.”
Julia said she has been making visits to the property, but her gran currently “has nowhere to live” so is stuck with her family in London.
Recalling when she showed her a video of the house’s current state, Julia said: “She was just devastated, saying ‘I can’t believe this happened to me’.”
She claims to have last heard from the builder around a month ago, and was told the works would be completed by the end of September.
Julia said: “She wanted to have one of those chairs in the shower and an extra-wide shower, so we got measurements for that. We talked about the cooker, literally everything.
“He said ‘this is how much it’s all going to cost’, so we had no doubts at the time that he wasn’t doing the right thing.
“He’s now taken £9,000 in total, saying it was for the kitchen, showing me the plans. We even went to the kitchen providers together and took measurements.”
Enid has been left with no working toilet or taps in her kitchen, and has to bring her kettle into the front room if she wants to make a cup of tea.
Julia has reported the builder to Trading Standards.
A council spokesperson added: “A complaint has been made to Citizens Advice which was passed to Birmingham Trading Standards.
“They will be contacting the complainant and will make an assessment as to potential next steps.”
Businesses can be reported to Trading Standards if a customer believes they have broken the law or acted unfairly.
Citizens Advice states: “Trading Standards use the information you give them to investigate unfair trading and illegal business activity, like rogue traders and scams.
“Trading Standards can take businesses to court or stop them operating, but they won’t help you fix your problem – for example, they can’t help you get a refund.”
And Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), told the Mirror: “Cowboy builders can reap havoc on the lives of innocent people who’ve often invested considerable cash in their dream building project.
“That’s why the FMB thinks all building companies should be licenced, giving peace of mind to the public, and helping to give the vast majority of builders the good reputation they deserve.”
Mr Golaub did not respond to six requests for comment from the Mirror via text, social media and email.
However, on October 22 the family received a WhatsApp message which referenced our involvement in the situation.
In the message, the builder apologised, saying he had been “meaning to get back but life has been getting in the way”.
He admitted that Julia and her gran have been “treated unfairly”, and proposed a “signed agreement in order to pay back the funds going forward”.
But there has been no further contact since.
Julia said of the whole affair: “I know people say you get what you pay for, but we didn’t get anything.”
Enid’s family has now set up a GoFundMe to help rebuild her home, raising over £5,000 of its £20,000 target at the time of writing.
Great-granddaughter Kahlia set up the fundraiser for Enid, who arrived in the UK in 1954 as part of the Windrush generation and worked in local factories for over 40 years.
Kahlia wrote: “In total Mum-Mum has paid the builder £9000 to get the work done and unfortunately nothing has been done so far which means she won’t be in her home for Christmas as planned.”
She added: “I have started this GoFundMe because my Great Grandma deserves a beautiful newly decorated space and with some support we may get there!
“She is aware of what has happened and although she cried for a couple of days, she remains positive that her home will be sorted soon.
“First things first, I need to get the electrics to a safe standard and install a downstairs shower and toilet.
“The rest of the money will allow us to get what we can, of a kitchen and hopefully fit a safe shower to use.
“I have also decided to decorate the house myself to save some money so anything left over will go towards some supplies and furniture.
Julia said the response to the fundraiser has been “incredible”, adding: “Someone has offered to do the plumbing, and I was like ‘that’s wonderful but we’ve got nothing to plumb!’
“We’ve got no kitchen, shower or toilet at the moment, but it’s so lovely they offered.
“The feedback has been amazing.”