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Raw Deal: A year and £130,000 later, renovation work has turned family’s life upside down

Graeme and Karrena Kerr had planned their dream home (Alan Richardson)
Graeme and Karrena Kerr had planned their dream home (Alan Richardson)

A FAMILY’S world has been turned upside down during a bitter dispute with a builder.

In June last year, Graeme and Karrena Kerr employed Carnoustie-based Urquhart Carpentry Joinery Services/Building Contractors to carry out renovation works at their farmhouse cottage.

The couple planned to move Karrena’s 71-year-old disabled mother into their refurbished property at Pitscandly, Forfar.

The building firm’s boss, Derek Urquhart, originally estimated the work would be completed within 12 weeks.

But 14 months and £130,000 later, the workmen are long gone and the Kerrs claim their home has been “butchered”.

Inside the house (Alan Richardson)

The couple and their two teenage daughters have been living in an old caravan in the garden as they say the house is virtually uninhabitable.

But they say they will now have to sell the caravan to pay outstanding bills from suppliers, leaving their future living arrangements up in the air.

“The whole thing has been a nightmare,” Karrena said. “The building work carried out so far has totally butchered our house.

“It has left us penniless and we are unable to borrow further funds to get the job finished by someone else.”

Karrena, 47, said relations had broken down with Mr Urquhart and that he left the site after 11 months, during which time he had been organising tradesmen and suppliers and was paying money directly to them.

Work stopped in May after the couple called in inspectors from Angus Council. A subsequent building standards report highlighted numerous structural irregularities.

The council ordered that 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 Mr Urquhart.

(Alan Richardson)

The letter states: “Given the findings in the (building report), Mr Kerr has lost confidence in your ability to perform the service with due care and skill.

“Mr Kerr is now seeking to exercise his right to terminate the contract and pursue a refund for all monies paid up until now totalling approximately £130,000.”

When Raw Deal contacted Mr Urquhart last week, the building boss conceded he had made “some mistakes” but insisted he was only the joiner and was never employed as a project manager.

“I am not saying I am completely innocent but I only supplied the labour and was supposed to be doing limited work,” he said.

“The Kerrs never used any of the companies I recommended to them for works and they repeatedly ran out of money.

“I was there alone for months while Mr Kerr himself also worked on the property.”

(Alan Richardson)

He said he had not “personally” responded to Trading Standards, despite being required to do so several weeks ago, and that the matter was with his solicitor. But he declined to say who his solicitor was.

Mr Urquhart said he would be willing to return to the Kerrs’ property to rectify “any errors” made by himself. However, the family said they were now exploring legal action.