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Ingol rogue trader jailed for trail of wrecked properties and broken promises

Posted on - 30th May, 2023 - 6:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Crime, Ingol, Preston News, Tanterton
One of Hopkinson’s renovations in Ingol was left without a roof Pic: Katie Sowerby/Blog Preston

A rogue builder has been jailed after leaving families with ‘unliveable properties’.

Billee Hopkinson will face 20 months in prison after running a building firm despite possessing no building qualifications.

Lancashire County Council’s trading standards team investigated Hopkinson’s Ultra Restore Limited – of which he was the sole company director – following complaints from customers.

His ‘building firm’ ran from 2013 until 30 December 2021 and conned people out of more than £63,000.

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Hopkinson, 35, of Tag Lane, Ingol, pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008).

One of those who fell victim to Hopkinson’s scamming ways was Katie Sowerby a nurse at Royal Preston Hospital.

A hole in the ceiling left during one of the ‘building’ jobs in Ingol Pic: Katie Sowerby/Blog Preston

In February 2022 Blog Preston reported on how her family home in Ingol had been left without a roof by Hopkinson as well as £17,100 being paid for work not completed.

Hopkinson’s trail of scam building jobs

In early 2020, one customer applied for a grant from South Ribble Borough Council to convert her garage into a bedroom and wet room for her disabled daughter at a cost of £17,500. This was due to begin in August, to be completed by Christmas but she had concerns with the standard and amount of time it was taking.

Despite Hopkinson having received £13,500, there were a number of major issues with the work including a shower tray and a standard height sink installed, which were unsuitable for her daughter to use with a wheelchair.

The bathroom undertaken by Hopkinson was unsuitable for a disabled person to use Pic: Lancashire County Council

South Ribble Borough Council sent out a building control officer round to inspect the work and he discovered issues, including that the bathroom was not waterproofed, the ramp and doors were unsuitable, and deemed the work unsatisfactory. The remaining grant amount was put towards rectification work by other tradespeople.

The impact was described as ‘substantial’ on the family as the customer’s daughter had to cancel a transplant.

Read more: Fraudulent Bartle roofer who conned retired residents is jailed for second time

In June 2021, another customer enquired through the Trustatrader website where she had seen that Ultra Restore had 5 star reviews and was quoted £24,000 for a loft conversion.

She shelled out £17,550 in instalments between September and October but the work was slow and so badly done that it was even causing damage to her neighbour’s properties. In November 2021, Preston City Council Building Control inspected the property and called the work to a halt.

In December 2021, she was told that Ultra Restore Limited was going into liquidation. At this stage, Trading Standards became involved and instructed an independent surveyor to inspect the work in February 2022.

The surveyor said that the work done had caused an extensive amount of water to enter the property and caused internal damage to ceilings in main bedroom and bathroom, which would need repairing and rooms redecorating. He found that the roofing works completed by the contractor were incomplete and defective throughout.

He summarised: “The works have been so poorly executed that one could arrive at the conclusion that the person carrying out this work possessed no knowledge or skills in not only construction work but general building standards.”

All of the work carried out would require redoing, and on top of this, “the cost of rectifying the damaged and defective work will be more than the monies currently paid out,” he said.

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In August 2021, another customer contacted Ultra Restore Ltd after seeing them on Trustatrader.com. Hopkinson priced a three-part extension at £78,000.

He said he’d start on 1 November 2021 and that the first phase of work would be finished before Christmas.

She paid £28,200 in instalments to Ultra Restore Limited’s business account.

Ultra Restore Ltd went into liquidation in December but the customer was not informed of this and she was asked to pay a further £4,000 into a different bank account in Hopkinson’s own name. Shortly after she’d paid this, she found out that the firm had folded.

She doesn’t believe much work has been done. She says that the orangery extension at the back and foundations and drainage were done and that partial walls have been put up for the kitchen, but that they appeared to be quite wobbly and were built with non-matching brick, so will need to come down.

What Lancashire County Council had to say

County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Lancashire County Council said: “The Trading Standards team have put a lot of hard work in to investigate this case and we’re pleased that justice has been done.

“Rogue traders can cause mental anguish and distress to their victims and families, some of whom lose vast amounts of their savings for work that is poorly done or incomplete. This prosecution sends out a clear signal that we won’t tolerate rogue traders and scammers and we’ll do everything we can to stop them.”

How to report rogue traders

To report a rogue trader, contact the Trading Standards Service via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08082231133.

Lancashire County Council’s Lancashire Safe Trader scheme lists details of reputable traders in the area at safetrader.org.uk

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