Cowboy Builders

Wednesday 16 February, 8:00pm on Five

Dynamic duo Dom Littlewood and Melinda Messenger track down the UK’s most terrible tradesmen and put right their bodged jobs. In this episode, the presenters meet a south London family whose beautiful Victorian home was trashed by an unscrupulous builder. Stuart and Cathy live with their two young children in a Victorian terrace in Lewisham, south London. Desperately seeking more space, they decided to undertake a major build, extending up into the attic, out into the garden and down into the depths of the basement. Stuart and Cathy took the plunge, doubled the size of their mortgage and handed a builder their life savings of �110,000 to complete the ambitious project. However, instead of their dream home they were left with a structural nightmare, which left the family’s lives in peril and no part of the fourstorey house unscathed. The cowboy’s handiwork leaves Melinda and her team with some tough decisions to make about their biggest build to date. Meanwhile, Dom discovers that the tradesman has claimed more victims. The intrepid consumer champion gets a shock when his investigation takes him in an unexpected direction, and he uncovers some terrible truths about how low this cowboy is prepared to sink.

Wednesday 9 February, 8:00pm on Five

Dynamic duo Dom Littlewood and Melinda Messenger track down the UK’s most terrible tradesmen and put right their bodged jobs. In this episode, Melinda and Dom are in Glasgow, where a hard-working family has been ripped off by a fledgling cowboy builder. Natalie and Rob and their two young sons live in a two-bed semi on the outskirts of Glasgow. Like many growing families, they scrimped, saved and remortgaged to afford the �28,700 their builder quoted to double the size of their property. However, the family’s dream of a better life turned into a complete nightmare when the builder abruptly downed tools and stopped work on the timber-framed extension, leaving it exposed to the elements for a year. The couple were left with a building site on their doorstep, and Natalie began to fear that it would be only a matter of time before one of the children was injured. As Melinda tackles the first timber-framed house she has ever worked on, Dom faces his own challenge in the form of the upstart cowboy, who is the youngest ever seen on the show. Dom is forced to chase the baby-faced builder over the entire county, and he even resorts to rooting through the cowboy’s rubbish bins in search of clues. Could this be the first time that Dom fails to get his man?

Wednesday 2 February, 8:00pm on Five

Dynamic duo Dom Littlewood and Melinda Messenger track down the UK’s most terrible tradesmen and put right their bodged jobs. In this episode, Dom and Melinda meet a single mother from Camberley who was forced to drop her career-change dream after an incompetent builder left her on the brink of financial ruin. After office worker Pam received a generous redundancy settlement, she was looking forward to a complete change in her career and lifestyle. Pam, who lives with 22-year-old daughter Georgina in Camberley, Surrey, retrained as a massage therapist for the terminally ill. However, thanks to the cowboy who left her in the lurch, Pam has had no choice but to give up pursuing her dream job. Pam enlisted a builder to convert the loft of her house into a large bedroom suite, leaving her with a spare room to rent out to a lodger. Pam planned to use this extra income to supplement her reduced wage, but a cowboy builder soon put paid to this idea. The builder told Pam the job would take no more than eight weeks, but after four months he fled, leaving the job unfinished and the family home structurally unsound. “It’s a really scary place to be,” Pam sobs as she shows Melinda and Dom the extent of the damage. Since Pam’s builder fled eight months ago, she has been forced into dire financial straits. This has forced her to press ahead with letting out a room, leaving her sharing one bedroom with Georgina. Worse still, the poor condition of the house means that Pam is unable to charge the going rate of rent, so the extension has decimated rather than supplemented her income. “The builder has taken away my dream,” she tells the presenters. “And he’s taken away the house that I had before I started.” Melinda’s faithful builder John is appalled by what he finds when he arrives at Pam’s house to assess the damage. The roof is structurally unsound, with huge iron beams supported by little more than thin pieces of timber. “It’s like building a house on a loaf of bread,” John remarks, before realising that he can lift the whole roof with his hands. “That is horrendous workmanship.” While John and his boys face a huge task just to make the house safe, Melinda is determined to pull out all the stops to create a luxurious loft sanctuary for superstressed Pam. “She’s been kicked in the teeth really, so I want to do everything I possibly can,” Melinda says, anxiously.

Wednesday 26 January, 8:00pm on Five

Dynamic duo Dom Littlewood and Melinda Messenger track down the UK’s most terrible tradesmen and put right their bodged jobs. In this episode, the presenters are on the trail of a cowboy who left a sick 84-year-old grandfather in the lurch when he fled with a family’s cash. This week sees Melinda and Dom in Harrow, north-west London, home to midwife Jenny, her husband Ray and their three growing teenagers. The family’s lives were recently turned upside down when Ray’s father Tony visited from Jamaica. “When he came he was so frail,” Jenny explains. “We were so shocked.” The couple learned that Tony had developed Parkinson’s disease, and they insisted that he moved into their already cramped family home. It proved to be a tight squeeze, so Ray and Jenny took out a loan to pay for a loft conversion and a downstairs extension to give them the space they so desperately needed. However, the couple’s plans were left in tatters when the builder they employed disappeared with the �28,000 fee just two months into the job. “I felt an idiot to be sucked in,” Ray admits. The family was left with no option but to inhabit the chaos the cowboy left behind, which meant that Tony had to share a tiny bunk bed with his 16-yearold grandson. Melinda and her trusty builder John set about assessing the damage done to the home, and Melinda is aghast when she discovers that the cowboy actually only completed two or three days’ worth of work before he scarpered. This means that John has to put his foot down when it comes to how much work he and his team can take on. “It’s the loft, or it’s the kitchen,” he tells Melinda firmly. “No way both.” Because frail Tony has difficulty climbing the stairs and the budget will not stretch to a ground-floor conversion, Melinda is left to throw herself at the mercy of strangers. She manages to secure a free stairlift for Tony, but her next dilemma is far more daunting. “Melinda’s driving me insane,” John complains. “She’s like a broken record, asking for this and that.” Can Melinda persuade John and his boys to install it and decorate the staircase? While Melinda gets to grips with John, Dom is left with the unenviable task of tracking down the cowboy responsible for the heartache. “He’s left an 84-year-old grandad in so much discomfort and pain,” Dom fumes. “To me, that is despicable.”

Wednesday 19 January, 8:00pm on Five

Dynamic duo Dom Littlewood and Melinda Messenger return to track down the UK’s most terrible tradesmen – and put right their bodged jobs – in a new series of Cowboy Builders. This week, Dom and Melinda arrive in Dorset to meet a grandmother who was ripped-off while she recovered from cancer. Karen and husband Richard have raised their 12- year-old grandson from birth in their cosy bungalow but, when she was struck down by cancer, Karen needed her own quiet bedroom to recuperate from chemotherapy. A builder the family had known for four years quoted for an attic conversion. He claimed to be a master carpenter, and the family paid him nearly �14,000. Four months later he walked off the job, leaving their attic, and their lives, in tatters. Melinda and her team of builders are shocked to discover that the structural damage is so extreme that her budget to complete the job is �10,000 short – leaving her with no option but to beg the local community to lend a hand. Meanwhile, Dom’s investigation reveals that Karen is not the only grandmother the builder has left living in a disaster zone. In an explosive and unprecedented turn of events, Dom is stunned when the cowboy agrees to meet him man-to-man for an on-camera interview. Will he make amends for his heartless actions, or simply feed Dom another tissue of lies?

Tuesday 26 October, 9:00pm on Fiver

Consumer champions Dominic Littlewood and Sheree Murphy come to the aid of another homeowner whose life has been ruined by a cowboy builder. In this week’s final instalment, the pair head to Surrey to assist Jackie, a single mother of four who tried to extend her home to accommodate a terminally ill friend, only to be left with nothing but debt. As Dom and Sheree head to Woking in Surrey, they unearth one of their most heart-wrenching cases to date. In order to make room for terminally ill best friend Liz and her two daughters, hotel receptionist Jackie took out a mortgage on her three-bedroom house and paid a builder to add a two-bedroom extension to the property. Little did she realise, however, that the man she hired to complete the work was a builder with a somewhat dubious reputation. Back in 2008, Dom investigated this builder for a string of shoddy jobs, but the cowboy managed to get away. “This time, I’m determined not to let him slip through my fingers,” says Dom. Despite receiving a deposit of �26,000, the builder never started Jackie’s extension. In fact, by removing the windows and doors in preparation for the work that never followed, he made matters a good deal worse. For some 18 months, Jackie and her four kids have been living in a house with large pieces missing, meaning they are exposed to the elements all year round. Desperate to fix the situation, Jackie remortgaged her house and paid another builder to start work on the extension. But money soon ran out, and the extension remains an empty shell. Upon arrival at the property, head builder John assesses the situation and decides that work can be completed in ten days at a cost of �10,000. As soon as Jackie and her family have moved out, the team sets to work knocking through the walls to connect the existing house with the extension, and building a dining area, a bathroom, a living room and two additional bedrooms. However, while digging a drainage ditch, John makes a shocking discovery. It seems the foundations beneath the extension are way too shallow, meaning the property is at risk. “In 30 years I’ve never seen anything like that,” says John. Unbelievably, it seems Jackie has been ripped off twice in a row. What was initially a ten-day job has now turned into a month-long job costing in the region of �20,000.

Wednesday 12 May, 9:00pm on Fiver

Melinda Messenger and Dominic Littlewood come to the rescue of homeowners whose lives have been ruined by unscrupulous builders. Melinda and Dom meet a couple who put their dream of adoption on ice after a cowboy with the gift of the gab promised them the Earth and left them with nothing but a hazardous home. After years of failed IVF treatments, Simon and Cheryl decided that adoption would be the only way to realise their dream of having a family of their own. The couple paid a builder �38,000 to create a perfect home for their new brood, but he scarpered with the money and left them with a dangerous, half-built extension. Two and a half years on, Cheryl and Simon are still living among the ruins that their builder, Michael, left in his wake. “They’ve destroyed our house, destroyed our lives,” says Cheryl. “It’s just left us with nothing, absolutely nothing.” The couple have endured having no proper kitchen, a leaking roof and dangerous electrical wiring – and their only running water comes from the washing machine feeder pipe. “I’ve seen better facilities on a campsite,” Dom remarks. Cheryl and Simon had hoped their extension would give them a large living space and extended kitchen, but when Michael did a runner, they were left with an empty shell. The chancer even offered to revamp their upstairs bathroom, which he also left unfinished. To make matters worse, after the project was abandoned Cheryl lost her job. Everything became too much and she spiralled into depression. “I have fought to get this fixed, and you’re saving us,” she tells Melinda through her tears. To compound the family’s misery, the work that the cowboy actually completed is finished to a shockingly low standard. Cheryl reveals that the exterior wall was completely demolished by strong winds. John’s assessment of the wreck reveals a litany of errors. “The way it’s put together, it looks like a five-year-old has done it,” he observes. The roof supports and leaky, unsealed skylight windows are secured with a single nail, and rotten beams have not been replaced. John pulls down a shoddy door frame with ease. While Melinda sets to work on the interior with trusty John and his team, Dom goes in search of the cowboy himself. He finds a trail of disgruntled suppliers and customers all over town. Dom meets one woman, Suki, who suffered similar treatment at Michael’s hands. “He’s a pig, he’s a liar – if he’s in your life you’re being taken for a ride,” she says. Dom meets another victim who lost a staggering �230,000 to the builder. After Michael nearly destroyed her existing home when he dug the foundations of her extension just 30cm deep, the cowboy even had the cheek to send her a Christmas card! Dom decides to put this pathetic gesture of goodwill to good use, using the card to track down some of Michael’s trading names. In the course of his investigation, Dom learns that the builder was declared bankrupt in 1995 -meaning that it is illegal for him to act as a company director. Dom is astonished that Michael has openly flouted this ban. “This guy has absolutely no respect for the law,” he says. Will Dom be able to see to it that the cowboy gets his comeuppance? Meanwhile, Melinda agonises over her plans for revamping the house. Cheryl is adamant that openplan living is not for her, but Melinda and interior designer Sophie are convinced that this is the only way to use the available space. They settle on a set of folding glass dividing doors as a compromise, but a string of broken promises leads the girls to take desperate measures. “We’ll have to beg, borrow and flirt our socks off,” says Melinda.

Wednesday 12 May, 9:00pm on Fiver

Melinda Messenger and Dominic Littlewood come to the rescue of homeowners whose lives have been ruined by unscrupulous builders. In the final instalment of the series, the team takes on two renovation jobs at once when Melinda and Dom uncover the extent of the destruction left behind by one cowboy. In Derbyshire, Greg and Claire were fast running out of space in their quaint cottage. With one young child and another on the way, the couple decided a loft conversion would create some much-needed additional room for their expanding family. However, the builder hired by Greg and Claire left their house in such a bad state that the local building inspector said it was the worst he had seen in his 20-year career. As Dom goes in search of the culprit, Melinda, interior designer Sophie and builder John work out a plan for putting right the wrongs perpetrated by the cowboy. Melinda is desperate to give the family the beautiful home they deserve, but with both time and money tight, she is forced to rely on the kindness of local suppliers and tradesmen. Meanwhile, Dom sets out to compile a dossier of the dodgy builder’s dastardly deeds. In the process he meets Beverly and Rob, who have been victims of the same cowboy. Having run out of cash, and with a baby on the way, the couple have been rushing to repair the mess themselves before the birth. Appalled to see heavily pregnant Bev struggling with backbreaking DIY jobs, Dom gets straight on the phone to Melissa. But will a second project prove to be a challenge too far for the team?

Tuesday 11 May, 8:00pm on Five

Melinda Messenger and Dominic Littlewood come to the rescue of homeowners whose lives have been ruined by unscrupulous builders. Melinda and Dom meet a couple who put their dream of adoption on ice after a cowboy with the gift of the gab promised them the Earth and left them with nothing but a hazardous home. After years of failed IVF treatments, Simon and Cheryl decided that adoption would be the only way to realise their dream of having a family of their own. The couple paid a builder �38,000 to create a perfect home for their new brood, but he scarpered with the money and left them with a dangerous, half-built extension. Two and a half years on, Cheryl and Simon are still living among the ruins that their builder, Michael, left in his wake. “They’ve destroyed our house, destroyed our lives,” says Cheryl. “It’s just left us with nothing, absolutely nothing.” The couple have endured having no proper kitchen, a leaking roof and dangerous electrical wiring – and their only running water comes from the washing machine feeder pipe. “I’ve seen better facilities on a campsite,” Dom remarks. Cheryl and Simon had hoped their extension would give them a large living space and extended kitchen, but when Michael did a runner, they were left with an empty shell. The chancer even offered to revamp their upstairs bathroom, which he also left unfinished. To make matters worse, after the project was abandoned Cheryl lost her job. Everything became too much and she spiralled into depression. “I have fought to get this fixed, and you’re saving us,” she tells Melinda through her tears. To compound the family’s misery, the work that the cowboy actually completed is finished to a shockingly low standard. Cheryl reveals that the exterior wall was completely demolished by strong winds. John’s assessment of the wreck reveals a litany of errors. “The way it’s put together, it looks like a five-year-old has done it,” he observes. The roof supports and leaky, unsealed skylight windows are secured with a single nail, and rotten beams have not been replaced. John pulls down a shoddy door frame with ease. While Melinda sets to work on the interior with trusty John and his team, Dom goes in search of the cowboy himself. He finds a trail of disgruntled suppliers and customers all over town. Dom meets one woman, Suki, who suffered similar treatment at Michael’s hands. “He’s a pig, he’s a liar – if he’s in your life you’re being taken for a ride,” she says. Dom meets another victim who lost a staggering �230,000 to the builder. After Michael nearly destroyed her existing home when he dug the foundations of her extension just 30cm deep, the cowboy even had the cheek to send her a Christmas card! Dom decides to put this pathetic gesture of goodwill to good use, using the card to track down some of Michael’s trading names. In the course of his investigation, Dom learns that the builder was declared bankrupt in 1995 -meaning that it is illegal for him to act as a company director. Dom is astonished that Michael has openly flouted this ban. “This guy has absolutely no respect for the law,” he says. Will Dom be able to see to it that the cowboy gets his comeuppance? Meanwhile, Melinda agonises over her plans for revamping the house. Cheryl is adamant that openplan living is not for her, but Melinda and interior designer Sophie are convinced that this is the only way to use the available space. They settle on a set of folding glass dividing doors as a compromise, but a string of broken promises leads the girls to take desperate measures. “We’ll have to beg, borrow and flirt our socks off,” says Melinda.

Tuesday 11 May, 8:00pm on Five

Melinda Messenger and Dominic Littlewood come to the rescue of homeowners whose lives have been ruined by unscrupulous builders. In the final instalment of the series, the team takes on two renovation jobs at once when Melinda and Dom uncover the extent of the destruction left behind by one cowboy. In Derbyshire, Greg and Claire were fast running out of space in their quaint cottage. With one young child and another on the way, the couple decided a loft conversion would create some much-needed additional room for their expanding family. However, the builder hired by Greg and Claire left their house in such a bad state that the local building inspector said it was the worst he had seen in his 20-year career. As Dom goes in search of the culprit, Melinda, interior designer Sophie and builder John work out a plan for putting right the wrongs perpetrated by the cowboy. Melinda is desperate to give the family the beautiful home they deserve, but with both time and money tight, she is forced to rely on the kindness of local suppliers and tradesmen. Meanwhile, Dom sets out to compile a dossier of the dodgy builder’s dastardly deeds. In the process he meets Beverly and Rob, who have been victims of the same cowboy. Having run out of cash, and with a baby on the way, the couple have been rushing to repair the mess themselves before the birth. Appalled to see heavily pregnant Bev struggling with backbreaking DIY jobs, Dom gets straight on the phone to Melissa. But will a second project prove to be a challenge too far for the team?

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