Ingol mum’s heartbreak as home is left "unsafe" for her children following building firms work
Katie Sowerby says she is another homeowner affected by Ultra Restore's collapse.
A mum of three in Ingol says she has lost £17,100 after Ultra Restore went into liquidation, and her house has been left flooded and without a roof, with little chance of renovation any time soon.
40 year old staff nurse Katie Sowerby found Billee Hopkinson of Ultra Restore on Trust a Trader and asked him to convert her loft into a third bedroom to create more space for her growing family, with a third child expected in September.
In June, Billee visited the house, which Katie also shares with her partner Chris, a GCSE aged daughter, and a 2 year old daughter, and he quoted her £24,300 for the job.
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Katie accepted his quote as it was similar to others but with a sooner start date, and after agreeing on a September start, Katie paid an £8100 deposit before any work had been done.
She explained: “Billee said because of Covid, materials would increase in price so because it was June and he wasn’t starting until September, if he ordered the materials now, he wouldn’t have quoted us wrong, and I’m quite a trusting person, so I said that’s fine.”
Work started as planned in September, however Katie’s son was born prematurely in the late August, and by the time she had left hospital, two weeks after the proposed six-week job had started, she says she was surprised at how little work had been done.
In the third week, Katie had to return to the hospital for seven days as her son was experiencing breathing difficulties, and during this time she claims Billee falsely told her partner she had authorised a second £8100 payment, “that really upset me” she said.
With work continuing to progress slowly, and having since paid another £900 for some steel beam calculations, the roof starting leaking, and Katie says the builders merely put buckets down rather than making any real fixes.
Katie said: "When the property was leaking and it got to about five weeks, I was getting concerned because they had a lot of money, so I phoned citizens bureau and they said you should have your work done in a timely manner and with care and skill and he obviously hadn’t done that, so they told me to write a letter, which I did, and he didn’t respond.
"But my neighbor's properties were also damaged because he’d taken stuff off my roof and not put it back so both properties at the sides were leaking and had wet walls, so building control came out.
"They emailed a list of everything he had done that was not up to building standards, and I was told to immediately stop all work and hold a meeting between the council, the structural engineer and Billee."
Following Lancashire County Council's building control team's involvement, protracted discussions took place between Katie and Hopkinson, before she received an email to say his company had gone bust.
Overall Katie says her house is no longer wind proof or water tight, she has a front roof that is unsafe, no roof on the back, holes in the ceilings, a collapsing bathroom ceiling, hanging spot lights, and water continues coming through into their home, leaving her bedroom wall soaked.
Katie shares her bedroom with her asthmatic toddler and her new baby with breathing difficulties, and she adds, "my children have got coughs, I have them at the doctors every week."
However Katie explains she is not in a position to afford any of the renovations needed, and she is currently pursuing Hopkinson through the civil court for a refund.
Katie said: "I've been told by a few builders that they have to rip everything out because it wasn’t up to building control standards, and a lot of the stuff has been confirmed to be second hand and has not been put in properly, but Billee took £17,100 off us so I don't have any money left.
"Now I've just got to focus on getting my neighbour’s properties looked at, and leave my property as it is."
Hopkinson vehemently denies all claims that he cheated anyone out of money, and you can read his full story on our website, here.
In response to Hopkinson's claims, Katie replied: “Unfortunately covid had wrecked many lives but Billee’s wasnt one of them. He became directors of other companies during the said pandemic and is in no way struggling financially based on his home and car. He has behaved unprofessional and in the words of Building Control has vandalised my home. He has robbed us all of money and continues to lie. He can say what makes him feel better but the voice recordings I have and texts prove we never fell out, they prove me chasing him constantly to finish the job he started.
“Also any decent human being would not leave a family, especially with a new baby, in the state he left us. With or without money he has a pair of hands and my roof could have been made wind and watertight but without any warning he just vanished and blocked my number.”