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Raw Deal: After five years and £130,000, welcome to our dream home turned nightmare

© Paul ReidKarrena and Graeme Kerr in their cottage near Forfar nearly five years after 12-week renovation work began
Karrena and Graeme Kerr in their cottage near Forfar nearly five years after 12-week renovation work began

Karrena Kerr is warning property owners to be extra careful when choosing a builder as she counts the costs more than four years after her dream home renovation turned sour.

In June 2017, Karrena and husband Graeme employed Carnoustie-based Urquhart Carpentry Joinery Services/Building Contractors to carry out the work at their farmhouse cottage near Forfar.

It was estimated the project would take 12 weeks but, following a dispute with the building firm, almost five years and £130,000 later, the Kerrs say they are still living on a “construction site”.

“The stress of it has been unreal,” said Karrena. “I’d hate to see anyone else going through this, so I would urge anyone thinking of getting work done to thoroughly check out the company before agreeing to any work or handing over money.”

The couple and their two teenage daughters had to live in an old caravan in the garden for more than a year as they said the house was left virtually uninhabitable.

“We were left penniless and we were unable to borrow further funds to get the job finished by someone else,” said Karrena, 50.

Karrena and Graeme in the cottage (Pic: Paul Reid)

The couple said relations had broken down with the builders and they left the site after 11 months, during which time the firm’s boss had been organising tradesmen and suppliers and was paying money directly to the subcontractors.

Work stopped in May 2018 after the couple called in inspectors from Angus Council. A building standards report highlighted structural irregularities. The council ordered all works “should cease to proceed on site until a structural engineer’s input has been received”. The Kerrs then approached Trading Standards, who wrote to the builder in a bid to mediate.

Karrena said the approach proved fruitless and so Trading Standards pursued matters further. Attempts were made to have the builder prosecuted for alleged fraud and culpable and reckless conduct but action was withdrawn in September last year after consideration by the Crown Office, which wrote to the Kerrs suggesting civil proceedings would be the best way of resolving the matter.

The Kerr’s case was first highlighted in Raw Deal three years ago. At the time the firm conceded “some mistakes” but insisted it was never employed to project manage the job.

This time, our emails, calls and texts to Urquhart Carpentry Joinery Services/Building Contractors went unanswered.

“The past four years have been a living hell,” said Karrena. “Our house is in a real mess and there are parts of it we still can’t live in. The financial and emotional cost has been enormous and the only real course of action left would be for us to take this to court, which could be very expensive.

“Even if we did get a successful outcome there would be no guarantee that we would get anything meaningful back. We are gutted by all this.”