Widowed mum appeals for help after Milton Keynes builder left her with half-finished extension

The unfinished work
The unfinished work

A widowed mum of three has sent out an appeal to DIY SOS after a local builder left her living in chaos with a half finished house extension.

Claire Harris said: “I never ask for help mostly because I hate to, but my family is torn apart and I must do something.”

The Harris family

The Harris family

She bought her house in Great Linford High Street so she could make a fresh start with her children after her partner died of kidney cancer at the age of 36.

And she saved the cash to have an extension built to provide more space for her disabled 17-year-old son Elliot, who has autism, learning difficulties and is partially sighted.

Claire, who is 41, recruited MK builder Vernon Langton, whose company is called Another Level Lofts Ltd.

“He quoted me £70,000. Stupidly I gave him £35,000 in cash and then paid another £20,000 direct to builders' merchants for supplies,” she said.

The DIY SOS team

The DIY SOS team

But halfway into the project, Mr Langton upped his quote to £85,000 and asked for the extra £15,000 on the spot, claims Claire, who is chair of the annual Christ the Cornerstone Church Christmas gift wrapping charity appeal.

She said: “I wasn't going to pay more than we agreed in the quote. But when I refused to pay, he refused to to the job. So I have been left with a half-finished extension and a freezing cold house that is not big enough for me and my children to live in.

“I honestly don't know what to do, I don't have the money to pay someone else, I have a small amount I could pay for some materials. But I don't have any family nearby and none of my friends have any building skills.”

Claire contacted the TV programme DIY SOS in desperation but has not heard back.

Half finished extension

Half finished extension

“The process is a long one and unlikely we will get picked,” she said.

The Citizen contacted Mr Langton, who said: “I made a silly, stupid mistake. I quoted the job too low. I've been a builder since I left school at 13 and now I'm 50 years old – and this is the first job I have ever had to walk off from.

“The £55,000 went on materials and to pay other contractors. Some weeks during this job I could only pay myself £500. Sometimes I didn't pay myself anything. I'm behind in three mortgage payments because of this job.”

Mr Langton claims he “only” asked for an extra £8,000 to £10,000 on top of the £70,000, and not £15,000.

The Citizen asked if he would consider finishing Claire's extension for up to £10,000. He refused.

“She is being really horrible to me,” he said.

Claire said: “I'm hoping through Citizen readers I may be able to find some help, like our own DIY SOS, and we can promote those people that help.”