Original article from Kent Live
A woman from Dover has been left with a "horrid" back garden after construction work was abandoned by builders she'd hired.
Arlene Carino, a 55-year-old freelance designer, who lives with her 80-year-old mother on Longfield Road, claims she's been left £4,000 out of pocket by the ordeal.
She said builders did not finish the job she had asked them to do and left piles of rubble at her property.
Having recently moved to Kent from London, Arlene said she wanted to start fresh, with part of this including having some work done to her new home.
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As well as reworking and landscaping the garden, her intention was to build a summerhouse, which she could use as a gym.
She was determined to find a local company in her price range that was reputable, and ended up hiring Skyluxe Roofing and Building to take on the task
"I came across them on TrustaTrader," she explained to KentLive.
"They have amazing reviews… all glowing, all singing and dancing feedback."
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After an initial visit from Skyluxe, in which she claimed the builder who had come to look over the place "didn't come with a tape measure," Arlene agreed to pay a £4,000 initial deposit to get work underway.
She said a 14 day construction period was also agreed, with the expectation that Skyluxe would finish the project by May 30.
Initially things were going well, the designer said.
"The work on the front garden was impressive enough.
"But I'd noticed that they did not put lining under the pebbles to stop weeds growing – so that was wrong already.
"They left rubbish and I asked when it would be taken away, and he said, 'after we've finished, we'll clear it away.'
"I paid the deposit, the £4k transfer, but after then their attendance was a lot more relaxed – sometimes no shows, or working between 9.30am and 2.30pm."
'When are you coming back?'
From this point, Arlene claimed, the working relationship deteriorated, and her builders stopped turning up.
"The question was, then like, 'When are you coming back?'
"I was chasing them – I wouldn't release more money if they weren't coming back!"
Everything ground to a halt when Skyluxe asked for more money for materials, Arlene said.
She was under the impression the remainder of the £12,000 was to be paid on completion of the work.
She said: "When I refused, he packed up his tools, including some of the materials, the windows, and some slabs, and left.
"I messaged him with the intention of verifying if they were coming back, and he said 'No, unless you transfer more money – a further advance,' and that was it."
Left with a half-finished garden, filled with broken slabs and concrete, Arlene says she has no other option other than to seek legal advice.
She has also complained to Trading Standards.
'We did complete a lot of work'
KentLive reached out to SkyLuxe for comment, and they had a rather different recollection of events.
A spokesman for the company confirmed they had indeed abandoned the job, but insisted they had done more than £4,000's worth of work.
They said: "I said, 'can you transfer me some money to pay for materials and we're sorted', and she said 'no'.
"She wanted me to give her a big discount, and we'd started work late because I couldn't get materials.
"We did complete a lot of work – put up new fences, new posts, took out trees from the front garden, put down stones and broke all the concrete out in the back garden – we had to bring six tonnes of rubble back through her house.
"We put in foundations for the shed, put a roof over, cut out for windows and doors… I think there's more than £4,000 worth of work there."
At this point, Arlene has accepted that she'll have to get someone else to finish the work.
She told KentLive she felt she'd done nothing wrong, adding: "It's horrid, outside, it's depressing – and I'm just looking at it asking where I went wrong?"