Builder removes one tile in bathroom reno, then leaves and pockets almost $7000 payment

The builder only installed one tile before skipping out on the job. Photo / 123rf

A builder who removed just one tile and put up a few bits of plasterboard before skipping out on a bathroom renovation and pocketing $6800 in payments has been ordered to pay the money back.

The builder, who isn’t identified in a Disputes Tribunal decision on the case, released this week, was employed to renovate a family’s bathroom and quoted them $9000 for the job.

The family paid him a $4800 deposit, and then another $2000 after he said he had a sick child in another country and he needed to buy his wife a birthday present.

After that his work was sporadic. He failed to show up on the first day and when he did he removed one bathroom tile before saying it was “really hard” and he would need to organise some tools.

He told them his plan was to simply tile over the existing tiles, rather than remove them.

The builder then didn’t show up for several weeks, saying his wife was in hospital and later that he had a foot problem for which he’d also been in hospital.

That was the last the family heard from him or his company, the Disputes Tribunal decision said.

The family had the renovation completed by a different company and was told the few sheets of Gib that were installed had been done so incorrectly and had to be removed.

It meant the project was effectively started again from scratch.

The family took the man and his company to the Disputes Tribunal earlier this year to seek a refund for the work.

“I find that [the company] simply failed to perform the contract and there is no evidence that the work it did perform was of any value of benefit,” the tribunal referee said.

The tribunal referee said the builder engaged in misleading conduct by seeking further payments from the family when he must have known based on the progress of the job to that point that he had either no intention or no ability to provide the work contracted for.

The family said the builder was one of two directors of the company but appeared to be the only person carrying out work for them.

“Furthermore, he appealed to [the family] on a personal basis for payments to be made before they were due, citing the particular circumstances and needs of his children and family,” the referee said.

“I find on the balance of probabilities that he must have known that he had either no intention or ability to perform the work for which he was requesting payment, given how events transpired.”

The company was ordered to refund the $6800, though they didn’t show up to the hearing.

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