Builder takes £7,000 from parents of disabled boy, tre, but seven months later has still not built them the sensory room they paid for
A family claim they have been left £7,000 out of pocket after a ‘heartless’ builder took £7,000 but has still not built their disabled child a sensory room seven months later.
Full-time carer Abbie Merrett, 33, scraped together £18,000 to create a personal space for her autistic three-year-old son Rory, complete with a special bed, a changing table and padding at their home in Retford, Nottinghamshire.
Mother-of-two Mrs Merrett claims she and her husband David, 37, handed over an agreed £7,000 for the extension on July 30, 2021 to a self-employed builder who promised to create a safe haven for Rory, who is non-verbal.
But the couple say the months began ticking by without any work beginning and the builder reeled out excuses about his van breaking down, fuel shortages, ‘heavy rain’ and a funeral.
After being strung along for months, Mrs Merrett demanded answers in October, and emails show the tradesman promising to send back her money – but then complaining about ‘phone trouble’.
Adesso, four months since she was promised her money back, Mrs Merrett is still £7,000 down but must still pay back the loan she had taken out with family – while little Rory, who has learning difficulties, is still without his sensory room.
Abbie Merrett, 33, pictured with husband David, 37, son Rory, 3, and daughter Rozalyn, 6
Mother-of-two Mrs Merrett (sinistra) claims she and her husband David, 37, handed over an agreed £7,000 for the extension on July 30, 2021 to a self-employed builder who promised to create a safe haven for Rory (giusto), who is non-verbal
Nella foto: The Merretts’ home in Retford, Nottinghamshire, where a single storey extension was supposed to be built for three-year-old Rory, who has learning difficulties
Mrs Merrett felt she had salt rubbed in the wound when she spotted the builder appearing to brag online about moving into a campervan full-time – furious that her money may have funded his off-grid dream.
The builder claims Mrs Merrett’s money is ‘sat waiting’ and ‘all she has to do is reply to the email’ he sent – though screenshots show she sent her bank details to him back in October.
Mrs Merrett said: ‘It’s been a nightmare really. It’s just so upsetting. We got some plans done by a local architect to get a single storey extension done so I can change (mio figlio) Piano inferiore.
‘He has to sleep in a special bed so we wanted everything on the ground floor. I got some quotes from local builders and he was one of them. He came out, had a look and seemed like a really nice guy.
‘It was meant to be £18,000 in total, but it was broken down into three payments. It was £7,000 for materials, £5,000 when at roof level and the rest on completion, which is normal in the building trade.
‘I went ahead with his quote. He messaged me to say he was in the suppliers and he needed the money to get the materials for the job.
After the family revealed they would have to cancel their plans for little Rory’s sensory room, a family friend set up a JustGiving page for the little boy so kind hearted donors could help Mrs Merrett fund a new builder
Mother-of-two Mrs Merrett claims she and her husband David, 37 (entrambi nella foto), handed over an agreed £7,000 for the extension on July 30, 2021 to a self-employed builder who promised to create a safe haven for Rory, who is non-verbal
Adesso, four months since she was promised her money back, Mrs Merrett is still £7,000 down but must still pay back the loan she had taken out with family – while little Rory (nella foto), who has learning difficulties, is still without his sensory room
‘I paid that day, the £7,000, a luglio 30 2021. He was due to start two weeks later and that’s when all the excuses started. I just don’t want it to happen again (to anyone else).’
Mrs Merrett waited for weeks for the builder to turn up and claims he began to give excuses about his van needing an MOT and failed to respond to calls, while refusing to provide details of his materials supplier.
Mrs Merrett said: ‘He said he couldn’t come because of the fuel shortage but he only lives six miles away and there weren’t any problems in our area. He said he had to go to a funeral, there was a delay with suppliers, his car wouldn’t start, he had to take his van for an MOT. Excuses basically.
‘After about four weeks I got a bit annoyed and asked him for the supplier’s telephone number and details so I could ring them myself. At this stage I thought there’d been delays and wanted to try and hurry it along.
‘He wouldn’t give me the details and said he’d sort it. I didn’t really question it then it wasn’t until two weeks later that I waited in for the bricks. I waited in and nothing turned up. This kept happening for weeks on end.’
After repeatedly chasing the worker, desperate Abbie claims she was then promised an exact start date, ma di nuovo, nothing materialised and he kept giving excuses such as ‘heavy rain, fuel shortages and appointments’.
Infine, Mrs Merrett claims, he told her he no longer had her money and it was with suppliers.
Mrs Merrett said: '(Alla fine) I said I wanted the deposit back or I’d like the order number and suppliers details, or I’d be going to the police as something wasn’t right. He said he hadn’t got my money now and the suppliers had it.’
Rory Merrett, tre, pictured playing on his bike with older sister Rozalyn, sei
She claims she hasn’t received a penny back from the tradesman and little Rory is still without his sensory room – meaning his little sister Rozalyn, sei, is also having difficulty sleeping when her brother is crying or upset.
Mrs Merrett said: ‘I went to the police and they said they’d look into it for me. I’ve also rung trading standards. Come oggi, I haven’t received a penny from him. He just sent loads of emails saying he’d pay me and nothing ever came through. I’ve still not heard from him.
‘I didn’t get my changing table and it’s affected us massively. We can’t afford to have the work done now. The total price was £18,000 so minus £7,000, no one’s going to build a single storey extension for that sort of money.
‘Rory gets disability living allowance so some of the money is from that and the rest is a loan from friends and family. Now we have to pay that back at £100 a month.
‘My son’s not got a changing table now. I’m having to carry him upstairs. He’s nearly four and he’s completely non-verbal. He’ll be staying with us for life and he’s got severe mental impairments. It’s made the whole family really ill.’
When contacted for comment, the builder said he did have the money ready to pay Mrs Merrett and all she needed to do was to reply to his email – but refused to discuss the matter over the phone or go into any more details of what happened.
Mrs Merrett said: ‘I went to the police and they said they’d look into it for me. I’ve also rung trading standards. Come oggi, I haven’t received a penny from him. He just sent loads of emails saying he’d pay me and nothing ever came through. I’ve still not heard from him’
Egli ha detto: ‘All Abbie needs to do is reply to the email sent 19/10/2021. Her money is sat waiting. She’s also ignored my solicitors letter and obviously carrying on with the slander and a creating public media witch hunt to which my while family have suffered with attacks and harassment.’
A spokesperson from Nottinghamshire Police said: ‘Nottinghamshire Police is investigating a reported fraud offence and has been liaising with the person affected and others to gather the necessary evidence.
‘We understand the very significant impact fraud offences can have on victims and will be working hard to get a successful resolution in this case. Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to call 101 citando l'incidente 86 di 13 October.’
A spokesperson from Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards said: ‘In this instance, our Trading Standards team was made aware of Ms Merrett’s situation by our partner agency, the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, after she contacted them in October 2021.
‘Our Trading Standards officers sympathised with Ms Merrett’s situation and following advice being provided by our partner agency the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, they also contacted Ms Merrett to provide some additional advice. Our Trading Standards team have had no further contact with Ms Merrett since this.
‘If Ms Merrett requires further legal advice on how to pursue the builder for breach of contract, we recommend she contacts the Citizens Advice Consumer Service again.
‘If any other consumers have experienced problems with this trader, then we would encourage them to contact our partner agency the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 to report this and obtain advice.’
After the family revealed they would have to cancel their plans for little Rory’s sensory room, a family friend set up a JustGiving page for the little boy so kind hearted donors could help Mrs Merrett fund a new builder.
Il fundraising page has so far raised just £770 towards the needed £7,000, with Mrs Merrett hoping people might be moved to donate.