A rogue trader who left a Wolverhampton family with a dangerous and near worthless extension on the verge of collapse has been sentenced to 6 months in prison.

Luke Roberts was also made the subject of a criminal behaviour order (CBO) for 10 years to ensure he does not carry out building work for anyone else.

Roberts claimed he had plenty of experience, relevant qualifications and a team of 10 men working for him when he met with the trusting residents to discuss the proposed work at their home in Penn.

He said the family’s plans to create an extension to an existing conservatory, would take six weeks. Decking and repairs to an electrical supply would also be completed. The residents, who do not wish to be named, agreed to pay for the work in 3 equal stages and buy any materials required for the extension. 

But problems began almost immediately when Roberts didn’t provide any paperwork, asked to be paid in cash each day and repeatedly asked a member of the family to drive him to collect building supplies, claiming his work van was being repaired.

Over the following weeks, Roberts returned to the property to continue with the project, but left the conservatory roof unsupported, removed guttering causing water leaks, left smashed glass and failed to properly install and connect underfloor heating.

Electrical wires were left exposed in the rain causing electricity to trip inside the house, an outside manhole cover which was required for drainage was buried and due to faulty plumbing work the family was left without central heating over Christmas.

Roberts then either stopped turning up to do work or would arrive at the home asking for more money for repairs, causing the family to feel pressured into making payments.

After approaching other builders who advised that the work carried out so far was dangerous, the residents asked Roberts not to continue unless the existing problems were resolved. But Roberts stopped responding to messages and never returned to the property.

In total, the family paid Roberts £1,160 for his work, spent £6,602 on the materials Roberts requested and then spent a further £6,989 to put the work right with another builder. They contacted Wolverhampton Trading Standards to make them aware of the family’s experience with Roberts.

Trading Standards employed building surveyor, Derek Bate from Barnsley Bate to assess the property. Mr Bate found Roberts’ work to be wholly inadequate, of little to no value, in breach of Building Regulations and in real risk of collapse.

His report stated that he had not found any element of the work to be adequate noting that “every part of the work contains significant defect.”

Councillor Steve Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment at City of Wolverhampton Council said: "I'm very pleased justice has been done in this case. Rogue traders cause a huge amount of upset and stress to their victims who have worked hard and saved to pay for what they think will be improvements to their homes.

“It is so important that we highlight cases like this to ensure other people remain vigilant. I sympathise with anyone who falls victim to rogue traders and suffers the emotional and financial damage their careless actions cause.

"As a council, we have a duty to protect consumers from traders who break the law and carry out sub-standard work.

“I would like to place on record my thanks to the council's Trading Standards team for their efforts in bringing some justice for the family that has been so badly let down."

In sentencing Luke Roberts Judge Campbell said that the work he carried out was not just poor, it was extraordinarily bad. 

She noted that no paperwork was provided, along with no cancellation rights and no building regulations application was made so the council could check the standard of work.

The family had been deceived and lied to and they suffered significant financial loss and inconvenience, she added.

Roberts was sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 4 September. He had pleaded guilty to engaging in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence and to engaging in a commercial practice which was a misleading action at a previous hearing on 17 July.