Worst builder in Britain … or angry builder and typical home improver?

Building works at house

A home owner in Leicester has accused his ‘angry builder’ of demolishing his property with a digger.

The five bedroom property at 26 Guildford Road in the Stoneygate area was purchased by Jay Kurji in April 2020 for £475,000. The relatively low price reflected the property’s somewhat tired presentation on this otherwise attractive tree lined street of period properties, with a choice of good quality schools and excellent transport links to the city centre and mainline rail connections.

Mr Kurji first applied for planning permission to carry out building work to the property in September 2020, to transform the traditional property into something more at home on a modern housing development. The permission sought to finish the property in the ubiquitous brick, render and grey cladding seen on so many new buildings in all corners of the country.

A neighbour complained that the plans submitted for No.26 were “neither sympathetic or in keeping with any of the houses surrounding it due to its modern design and layout which going forward could lead to a reduction in the market value of surrounding properties.” He also objected to the balcony planned at the front of the property, which would look directly into his bedroom window.

A more traditional amended application was submitted on 6th January 2021, and Mr Kurji said he then hired a builder, whom he declined to name, in February 2021. This planning permission was granted in March 2021.

The extensive building work included: raising the ridge height, alterations to the roof of the existing single storey detached garage at the front of the property, the construction of a porch canopy at the front, a single and two storey extensions and balcony at the rear and other alterations to the house, including rewiring and internal amendments to the layout of the kitchen.

Mr Kurji said of his plans that he wanted the house “to be more environmentally friendly”.

However, just three months after planning permission was granted, Mr Kurji said he refused to pay the builder an additional £3,500 for work undertaken, and a dispute arose between them.

When the scaffolding was removed, neighbours thought the building work had been completed but said they ‘watched in disbelief’ as the builder then began demolishing the work he had done to the house with a digger. The roof was ripped off and the new extension was left as “just a hole in the front of the house”. The pavement was also damaged.

Mr Kurji said he was on holiday at the time. He called Leicestershire Police on 1st June, but was advised that the matter was a dispute and a civil matter, not a criminal case. The case has also been reported to Leicester City Council.

Mr Kurji described his experience as a ‘nightmare’ but was waiting for investigations to ‘run their course’.

“Unfortunately I picked the worst builder in Britain”, he said.