A self-employed tradesman who carried out poor quality paving and building work was today given a conditional discharge at Belfast Magistrates' Court and ordered to pay compensation of Pound 2,750 to his victim.
In a case brought by the Department for the Economy's Trading Standards Service (TSS), Barney Doherty (23), of Longlands Avenue, Newtownabbey, trading as Drives and Patios, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Mr Doherty pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to carry out work to a professional standard of skill and care and one charge of failing to provide documentation, including the consumer's cancellation rights, as required by law.
The victim contacted Mr Doherty after seeing an advertisement for Drives and Patios on Facebook Marketplace. Mr Doherty called to her home in Belfast in August 2021 and it was agreed that he would lay some paving stones to the front and rear of her property for a quoted price of Pound 2,500.
Mr Doherty arrived the next day with some workmen to begin the job and received payment as the work progressed. In early September 2021 Mr Doherty demanded further payment for work which the homeowner says she never asked him to do; this included cleaning the roof and repointing the front boundary wall. In total, the victim paid Pound 3,350 to Mr Doherty.
The victim complained to the TSS, who carried out an investigation. A chartered building surveyor expert confirmed the poor standard of the work; the paving had left some of the drainage outlets paved over and the repointing was described as being "of exceptionally poor quality". The report put the cost of remedial work for the paving and repointing at Pound 2,150 (plus VAT).
Alison Gilchrist of the TSS said: "This is another example of a trader carrying out poor quality and overpriced work, leaving his victim with a huge bill to get the job completed properly. At a time of rising prices and increased cost of living, it's hugely important for consumers to have confidence in local tradespeople and to expect good quality and professional services. TSS remains committed to investigating those traders that take advantage of consumers and do not comply with the law."
The TSS offers the following advice for consumers seeking a reputable tradesperson:
- Ask your neighbours, family or other tradespeople for personal recommendations of builders who have worked for them and carried out a good job.
- Speak to previous customers for references and view the work, where possible
- Check that they are a member of a trade body with an arbitration scheme
- Get everything in writing and agree a price
- Never pay up front and never pay cash.
- Get at least three quotes
- Always say no to doorstep sellers and be wary of online advertisements.
- Always get a detailed written quotation/contract and agree a price
Anyone who believes they have been similarly affected should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.