Revenge of homeowners on 'cowboy builder': Couple whose house was wrecked make sure whole neighbourhood knows with 12ft bannerFran Ikin and Peter Mortin paid builder 7,000 to craft their dream homeBut they say he left work undone and even put them in dangerCouple wrote 'Dean Watts cowboy builder' on banner outside house
07:49 GMT, 13 December 2012
A couple furious with the work a builder has done on their home have posted a huge banner outside the house warning locals that he is a 'cowboy'.
Fran Ikin and Peter Mortin paid Dean Watts more than 7,000 to transform their new semi into a dream home, but claim he wrecked the house with shoddy workmanship.
The couple now say they want to stop others from being 'conned' by the builder, whom they accuse of 'ruining lives'.
Fury: Fran Ikin outside her home in Gaywood, Norfolk which she claims was ruined by a 'cowboy builder'
Ms Ikin and Mr Mortin, who recently became engaged, employed Watts to build a conservatory, extend their kitchen, fit a wood burner, knock through two rooms, fit a new bathroom, then plaster and paint the house in Gaywood, Norfolk.
But they say he committed 25 different blunders which will cost them 12,000 to repair, and in protest they have written 'Dean Watts cowboy builder' on a banner he left hanging on the scaffolding outside their home.
The couple were furious with the builder's work – but they say that instead of offering to repair the damage, Watts demanded a 500 bonus before he would leave.
They have remortgaged their home to pay for the repairs – less than a week after moving in.
Chaos: Ms Ikin posing inside the home, which was supposed to have been renovated by Dean Watts
'Shoddy': The couple claim Watts left much of the job undone despite being paid over 7,000 for his work
Mr Morton, 44, said: 'He has conned us out of a lot of hard-earned money. We have no money left and every day after work we spend trying to fix the house.
'It is bitterly cold, we have to flush the toilet with a bucket and we have no hot water to have a shower. It has been a complete nightmare.
'If the government are not going to protect us against cowboy builders then I will make sure everyone in the area knows what this man has done and ensure they never employ him.
'I want to stop him from ruining other people's lives.'
Warning: The homeowners say they want to send a message to their neighbours in the wake of their ordeal
The homeowner met Watts in the builder's antique furniture shop, which is near Ms Ikin's pottery workshop in Hunstanton, Norfolk.
He hired him for 7,800 after Watts claimed to have 20 years' experience, and the builder began working alongside a colleague in late October.
However, the couple became suspicious when he asked for an extra 4,000 to treat the roof for woodworm, and they started keeping a diary detailing his work.
They say they found him using bathroom sealant around the fireplace and knocking down a supporting wall leaving a hole in the roof.
They later discovered he was apparently entirely untrained after he told the homeowners he had swept the chimney ready to install a log-burning stove.
A dangerous coating of soot nine inches deep was later found in the flue which could have started a house fire.
Uneven: The couple claim that Watts left the house in a nearly uninhabitable state last month
Mr Morton and Ms Ikin also discovered holes in the ceiling of the bedroom and bathroom, and accuse Watts of installing a cheap Chinese wood burner rather than the reliable model he had promised.
Despite having no heating, hot water or drainage, and the roof leaking when it rains, the couple have had no choice but to move into the house, as the lease on the rental property where they had been living expired.
They say they must now pay for digging up the concrete for the conservatory, replacing the wood burner and fixing the roof.
Ms Ikin, 47, claims she was tricked into paying Watts an extra 3,500 when her fianc, who had already paid the builder, was away on holiday.
Watts failed to reply to messages asking him to comment on the couple's allegations.