Stevenage ‘Cowboy Builders’ exposed on national TV

John Smith with his wife Sandra (centre) and Cowboy Builders presenters Dominic Littlewood and Melin

John Smith with his wife Sandra (centre) and Cowboy Builders presenters Dominic Littlewood and Melinda Messenger - Credit: Archant

A FAMILY whose home was left “uninhabitable” by builders have spoken about their plight on national television.

The damage done to the families downstairs toilet

The damage done to the families downstairs toilet - Credit: Archant

John Smith was made redundant from a software company and decided to use his payout to add an extension to his home.

The 60-year-old employed two builders from a Stevenage firm who told him the work would take nine weeks and would cost £66,000.

However, in an episode of Cowboy Builders aired on Channel 5 last Thursday, viewers were told that the Smiths’ home in Potters Bar was left unfinished after months of faulty work which actually cost around £82,000.

Mr Smith had employed AJ’s Building Services to carry out the work after his wife Sandra found them on a recommended website for builders in 2009. There is no connection with any other firms of a similar name.

The predicted time of nine weeks soon turned into six months and the family found out that none of the work by builders Mike Gunton and Mark McCarthy had been signed off by Building Control.

Speaking to the Comet, Mr Smith said: “The principal problem was that they did not undertake the work to the specifications in the original plans submitted and approved by the council. They just effectively did their own thing.

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“Also, when the job took far longer than planned, they just cut corners.”

Mr Smith said the result was that the house was left “uninhabitable, and in no way could it be signed off by the council.” The builders then walked off site for good. The family say they were left with a leaking, freezing and unusable extension and so were forced to move into Mr Smith’s deceased father’s home while repairs took place.

“It was more than horrible because I couldn’t afford the repairs,” said Mr Smith, who pursued the matter for two years without getting compensation from AJ’s, which he believes is no longer trading.

“Because of the money I spent I wasn’t prepared to let this go. It has left a scar and I am only just moving on from this.”

Mr Smith’s daughter Natalie, 23, contacted TV programme Cowboy Builders who took on the family’s case.

Since going on the show, which was filmed in August last year, the extension has been repaired.

Work included correcting the drainage, the decking, the front drive and the heating system.

The family also had a surprise party waiting for them when they returned home.

Mr Smith added: “They couldn’t fix everything in time but compared to how it was it is fantastic. I’ve come through this but I just want future customers to be aware of these guys.”

The Comet was unable to contact AJ’s Building Services before going to press.

Michael Gunton and Mark McCarthy, of Stevenage, Herts, trade or traded as AJ’s Building Services and AJ’s Services.

Neither Gunton or McCarthy, nor their businesses, have any connection to companies with the same or similar names in any other parts of the UK.

? The programme, presented by Dominic Littlewood and Melinda Messenger, can still be viewed via Channel 5’s on demand service.