Couple claim to be facing financial ruin after builder left house in ‘horrific’ state

A heartbroken couple told how they were facing financial ruin after returning from holiday to find their home renovation in chaos.

Tracy and Stephen Williams hired builder Morgan Gay to work on their property, but said the damage he caused could cost £20,000 to fix.

Stephen, 54, claimed he received an electric shock from a live wire allegedly left hanging in the kitchen and hurt his hip when he slipped in a “pool of cement” left on the living room floor.

His wife Tracy, 51, said “all she can do is cry” after borrowing £2,000 from her mum to help cover the repair bills including re-plastering and rewiring.

“It’s like something you see on television but you never believe it will happen to you,” she told Wales Online.

“What kind of Christmas are we going to have? All I can do is cry. I can’t eat or sleep.”

The grandmother added: “It made me afraid to stay in the house. It could have easily been one of the children who was shocked.

“The builder put the hot and cold pipes the wrong way round, causing the shower mixer not to work, so a plumber must cut the pipes and move them round.

“We are lucky there is space enough for them to do it, otherwise it would be the bath being removed.”

Mr Gay, 21, has defended the standards of his work at the three-bedroom property in Three Crosses near Swansea.

The builder said the couple were advised not to return to the house until the floor screed had dried for 72 hours – which Tracy denied.

Stephen and Tracy bought the property for £185,000 in March and moved in four months later, transferring Mr Gay £19,766 for the work and materials.

“This was the last move we were making and with the profit my husband made off the previous property, we could afford to buy this house and get it done up because it was quite outdated,” Tracy said.

Tracy, who has three young grandchildren, explained how she found Mr Gay through an online advert and hired him for an eight-week renovation at an expected eventual cost of about £30,000.

“We bought units and fittings for the bathroom and kitchen,” she said.

“He was meant to get the house re-plastered and painted, do the new bathroom and kitchen, electricity work and plumbing.”

Work started on July 16 – one week after the couple moved in – but Tracy said she became concerned over the progress.

“Materials seemed to be getting paid for but never appearing. I had a few words with him about four weeks in.

“I asked him what was going on. Nothing was finished. It felt like he was fobbing me off,” she added.

Meanwhile Mr Gay, who claimed he had done three previous renovation jobs, defended his work.

“I had been on the job nearly every day myself, as well as the carpenter [a subcontractor] was there every day,” he said.

The couple had been living downstairs while Mr Gay was working upstairs.

Tracy claimed that shortly before they went on a week-long holiday to Portugal, Mr Gay told her that work would start downstairs while they were away.

When they returned to the home in September, they allegedly found the downstairs doors and light switches had been removed.

Tracy claimed that there were four or five live wires hanging from the wall and about six from the ceiling, with “inches” of plaster dust covering the beds and plaster “falling everywhere” off the walls.

She also described radiators being taken off the walls and piled up, chips to a new bath and sink, and scratches on a toilet seat.

In the dark, Stephen, who has osteoarthritis, slipped in a “pool of cement” and suffered bruising around his hip and elbow which left him needing painkillers, she added.

He also received an electric shock from one of the wires, she claimed.

Mr Gay said: “I understand where she is coming from with the ‘pool of cement on the floor’. This was because she had gone back to the house too early after it had been self-levelled.

“The carpenter had told her over the phone that it would take up to 72 hours to dry so he advised her not to go in there.

“As far as I am aware, the cables in the kitchen were all in connectors and no live cables were out.”

Tracy denied any instruction to return later and revealed a conversation she filmed, in which Mr Gay told her “when I left here I 100 per cent thought [the wires] were dead to be honest.”

The builder later said: “All the bedrooms had the doors closed. I had explained to Tracy from the start there was going to be a lot of dust. Originally she wasn’t to be living in the house while the renovation was going on.”

Since their return, the couple claim to have paid £4,300 for new workers to re-plaster walls and make the electrics safe.

Tracy said: “[Mr Gay] had used metal fittings and earthed none of them. The living room’s ceiling has had to come down too due to the unsafe electrics they needed to get to… It’s horrific.”

But Mr Gay said that a qualified electrician was going to be provided.

“There would have been a certificate for the electrical work downstairs in the kitchen,” he added.

Tracy, who has post-traumatic stress disorder due to a previous incident, said the renovation project has hit her mental health hard and left her feeling like her life is “ruined”.

She added that she expects repairs to cost more than £20,000 in total but the couple has savings of only £3,000.

“This money was earned from working hard all our lives. He’s financially ruined us,” she said.

Mr Gay said he had an NVQ Level 2 in bricklaying and is hoping to turn professional as a boxer in the “near future”.

He added: “All money that had been sent over to me by Tracy for materials had been spent on materials as well as giving her my trade discount in places I get discount.

“Also I was getting her cheaper prices on materials in places by paying cash for the materials as it was losing the VAT.

“Tracy had not had any words with me from the start of the project up until she had kicked me off the project about what was going on.”

Mr Gay also claimed completion within eight weeks was not possible after Tracy “changed her mind a lot through the job”.

He added: “For example changing the design of the built-in bed and also removing the brickwork airing cupboard in her bedroom added time to the job.

“Also with the really hot weather we had it was unhealthy to be working inside.”

The builder claims he has made an offer following the complaint.

Tracy said: “The only way [ahead] is civil action at a cost of almost £1,000.”