Couple left penniless after builders wreck new home in £50k renovation disaster

Major repairs are now needed

By Jodie Nesling

A frontline NHS worker and her partner have been left devastated after builders destroyed their first property, leaving them homeless.

Margate midwife Sherrie New and Hornby worker George Waller saved tirelessly for three years to buy their three bedroomed 1970s home.

But their joy turned into a nightmare after the downstairs renovation project caused the property to collapse resulting in more than £50,000 worth of damage and  leaving them penniless. 

Sherrie says the drama started in September last year just three months after they completed. She said: “We wanted to update the ground floor first as that’s what we could initially afford so budgeted around £20k. This included knocking the wall down between the kitchen and dining room and installing a supporting steel beam. We did our research and the company we chose had five star reviews and insurance in place. They also made us feel confident.”

But soon a series of mistakes began to take place including ripping up new flooring, poor workmanship by subcontractors and a stopcock being boarded up. Their personal items were damaged and doors to the property left unlocked.

Sherrie and George

Sadly the worst was to come as the steel beam was installed incorrectly causing the first floor to bow; huge cracks began to appear and the walls started to come away – none of the downstairs doors would shut properly. Sherrie explained: “They (builders)  said that we should get a structural engineer at our own expense if we wanted to check it was ok. They had already boarded up the ceiling and said Building Control had signed it off which they hadn’t.”

The engineer confirmed their worst fears saying it was unsafe and the walls would need to be completely rebuilt to refit the steel. Quotes to fix the damage ranged from £50k to an eye-watering £100k, leaving the 24-year-old devastated.

Sherrie said: “We bought a bigger home as we wanted to start a family. It took us three years to save for a deposit. All our savings have gone. We have tried to remortgage, personal loans, credit cards – we’re selling our car to raise money so we can move back in and even applied to DIY SOS!.”

The company, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, eventually admitted liability but their PI insurance did not pay out due to incorrect information on their policy.

The couple next tried their own AXA Homebuyers insurance which they purchased with enhanced legal cover only to be turned down as the reason for the collapse was due to ‘poor workmanship.’

They are challenging the decision with the ombudsman but in the meantime have had to fork out up to £750 extra a month on rental costs plus the extra building work to ensure their home is safe.

Sherrie said: We moved into NHS accommodation the day before Christmas Eve but couldn’t stay as the hospital needed it for extra staff drafted in due to the pandemic. We later found an AirBnB but will need to leave when it reopens to the holiday makers.”

Sherrie has been working at QEQM Hospital delivering babies throughout the pandemic and has recently taken on extra shifts to help with the costs, which has taken its toll emotionally and physically.

Moved by their plight Sherrie’s sister Violet set up a Gofundme page in order to raise £10k – movingly some donors read their story on social media and remember her delivering their babies.

David Griggs who donated  £60 wrote: “Sherrie helped deliver our daughter nearly two years ago and then looked after my wife when she had to go into surgery. You were so lovely and really helped keep her calm, couldn’t of asked for more.”

George’s friends have also undertaken sponsored chest waxes to raise money for the couple. They now have new builders who are working tirelessly to make their home safe again. 

To donate to the couple visit


  1. Just as soon as the “legal reasons” permit, this company should be named and shamed.
    What a terrible thing to happen to a family.

  2. These so called “builders” should be named and shamed as vandals NOT builders. Any Tom Dick and Ali can call themselves “builders” most of them are qualified in NOTHING. We had a builder put our double glazing in and he caused £25,000 worth of damage. After 2 years of chasing him to compensate us we had the courts seize his £240,000 boat until he paid us for the damage / repairs / legal cost £65.000 in all. To call them cowboys is an insult to cowboys.

  3. Goes to show that you can never trust websites like Check a trade etc. They should be regulated themselves as they allow fake reviews that encourage people to chose a tradesman without any liability. Receipts and ID’s should be checked before any review is submitted. All review websites should be like this.

    Another thing to learn from this article, which I didnt think of before, is to ask for the insurance documents of the company carrying out the work.

    • You’d also need a lawyer to sift through the 100s of pages of the policy to see if it was ok.
      Ann has a point: the claim is against the builder, irrespective of whether he’s insured or not.
      Sue him. Seize his assets. Bankrupt him if necessary.

      • A lawyer? 100’s of pages? Insurance docs are more concise than that arent they? Also I dont think Ann was making any point, she was just sharing her experience. “irrespective of whether he’s insured or not” That doesn’t make sense, if a builder has the right insurance then they will pay out and you wont have to go through all that.

        This is useful, its a quick read, one of the first results when searching for what insurance do builders need:

  4. sady thanet is full of these clowns – bodge it and leg it , there should be more control over it , you rarely hear of succesful prosecutions , and in all fairness half of TDC are not much better

    • I’ve employed contractors to fix my roof, install a Velux window, sort out the garden fence, replace double glazing, clear gutters, paint the outside of the house, fix the central heating …. no problems at all.

  5. I had new windows fitted 4 years ago ,they were fitted so bad . The back door was too big ( as mine was not a standard door) the drainage was on the top of the window and I have a bay windows with 3 corners and cracks on the walls I took them to court and the Judge they were OK it turns out he is a window fitter as well . Now 4 years later I still have windows that are c**p They walked away with a smile on there face I will not trust a trader again I feel so sorry for you you have lost more than me

  6. We had probelms with an outfit inappropriately named ‘Fininsh Construction’ – you can guess the rest and they went into liquidation before we could get any redress.
    Are you still out there RH and OW?

  7. What’s the betting this bunch of cowboys wanted paying in cash instead of a bank transfer. TAX DODGE. Should be named and shamed and reported.

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