Family reveals damage wreaked on home in five-month battle with builder
PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 November 2019
An East Ham family has spoken of their devastation after paying £13,000 to a builder who walked out halfway through an extension job, leaving a litany of faults.
Shabana Khanam, of Grosvenor Gardens, was left with a timber shell, crumbling walls and a debris-strewn garden after the builder, Sapphire Building Contractor, abruptly downed tools in May.
She and husband Syed Arifulla have been told it will cost another £8,000 to fix issues with the build, where a Newham Council surveyor found 10 defects.
Mrs Khanam, who works in IT, said: "It has been the most stressful thing I have ever done in my life. I don't know why I even embarked on this journey."
In June 2018 Mrs Khanam and her husband were given planning permission to build a six-metre extension to their kitchen, and a utility room.
Permission was granted on the condition that the works be finished by May 30, 2019.
Mrs Khanam told the Recorder: "My mum has a knee problem and stays with us, and it was to give her more space so she could move around properly."
In October 2018 she approached Rohit Malik, the Walthamstow-based owner of Sapphire Building Contractor to carry out the work who contracted a labourer.
Between April 2 and May 7 2019 she paid £13,000 of an agreed £26,000 into Mr Malik's bank account as they began work.
She said: "I thought, he's local and if anything happens, I can go to him.
"He came one day, then did not come back the next. The quality of the work and material was really bad."
One day in May the builders packed up and did not return to the property.
Mrs Khanam said: "I became quite nervous. I frantically called him [Rohit Malik] and he never picked up."
A building control surveyor from Newham Council visited on Wednesday, May 15 and found 10 different faults including unsatisfactory brickwork and timber work, wall plates and beams not bolted, and substandard roof tile finishing. Some bricks have already crumbled and the gutters were left exposed and have begun to smell.
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Mrs Khanam contacted Trading Standards in July filed a claim with the small claims court.
Attempts at mediation failed. According to evidence seen by the Recorder, he also sent her a series of obscure messages late at night.
One, sent at 00.47 on September 5, read: "If you serious to get your work done pls keep your self down and respectfull tooo [sic] because of your disrespectful voice my people don't want to work for me".
Another, sent at 10.18pm on July 20 after she complained the garden was "uninhabitable", read: "You are such a negative person ..you must know deep in your heart".
Mrs Khanam said: "There's no point going through the courts.
"It has been quite a loss for us, financial and personal. No matter how cautious you are some people trip you up. Now I hate to trust anyone."
A spokesperson for Newham Council said: "This case is under investigation by Newham Council's Trading Standards officers, and thanks to new evidence passed on by the Newham Recorder, we now have new lines of inquiry.
"We would urge anyone with evidence of malpractice to contact our officers promptly with as much evidence as they can gather including photographs, and any documents from the business involved."
The council also recommended that anyone engaging in a similar contract get at least three quotes beforehand and paperwork from the chosen company, including their address, phone number and website.
They also said people should arrange for payments to be made in stages, and never in cash.
Anyone with concerns can call Newham Trading Standards on 0203 373 79937.
MP for East Ham, Stephen Timms, said: "I have been in touch with Mrs Khanam about this matter and raised the case at both local council and government levels.
"Nadhim Zahawi, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business and Industry, advised Mrs Khanam take legal action against the building contractor and refer the matter to Newham Trading Standards.
"I understand that she has taken both of these steps and I will continue to follow the progress of the case carefully. Mrs Khanam has my full support in this matter."
Rohit Malik declined to comment.