Builder recommendation regretted

You don’t expect to see your builder “snoring his head off” in your bedroom, but that’s where Barbara Stephenson found Berkeley Homes owner, Emuraan Hendricks, one Saturday, while he was renovating her Forest Glade, Tokai, home, for which he quoted R850 000.

Ms Stephenson who recommended Mr Hendricks to Margaret Bodley, said she regrets it every day (“Building nightmare for nonagenarian”, Off My Trolley, July 12).

Susi Muller, also of Forest Glade, who owns a block of flats in Diep River, where Mr Hendricks renovated a shed, is another unhappy client.

Ms Stephenson said when she decided to renovate her house she contacted Mr Hendricks who sounded as if he knew what he was doing, so Berkeley Homes got the contract. “I was busy at work and took my eye off the project but Emuraan went out of his way to help me with certain things so I was happy working with him,” she said.

Ms Stephenson wanted another bathroom so the deadline was extended from September 6 to October 6.

“Emuraan worked two weekends but renovations were far from complete and clients were arriving on December 6,” said Ms Stephenson who spent two weeks on site.

“Emuraan was never there and his foreman always said he was at the hardware store but he never came back with anything. The three workers didn’t have materials and they were always waiting for instructions. One Saturday, I found everyone sitting around and Emuraan in the bedroom snoring his head off.

“The standard of his work was terrible. Each week I had pages of snags that I discussed with Emuraan but he hardly attended to any of them.

“My biggest mistake was paying him too soon. Emuraan walked off but returned in February after the tenants left to complete the work. The house was barely liveable, and the snag list had grown even longer.”

The walls looked as if they had cellulite and the four bathrooms had to be retiled because they were so badly done.

“When I told him he would have to pay for the tiles, he left and I didn’t see him again.”

Ms Stephenson said the bathroom tiles weren’t waterproofed nor was the patio; the paint peeled off because Emuraan didn’t use an undercoat; he ruined the staircase; the storeroom still needed a roof; the stack back doors were incorrectly fitted; the electrics weren’t compliant; the downpipes hadn’t been bought; the roof leaked and Ms Stephenson had to pay another contractor R150 000 to repair it but there are still damp problems.

When Susi Muller saw Mr Hendricks at Ms Stephenson she was so impressed she hired him to renovate a shed that her late husband had built at their block of flats.

“I commissioned Emuraan to raise the existing walls, install tip-up doors, erect a dividing wall to create a double garage and get a store room at the same time.

“He quoted R75 713.10 but he had to underpin some of the existing foundations (using concrete blocks which the building inspector apparently didn’t notice). That cost R3 705 and I would have to pay extra for plastering the parapets (R8 550).

“I thought it was exorbitant but he was already working so I agreed. Stupidly, I paid another R7 410 for the distribution board to supply electricity to the garage. He didn’t finish the job,” Ms Muller said.

Mr Hendricks damaged the electric fencing so badly that Shokoloza had to repair it
(R5 973).

“A mountain bike (R6 000); a ladder, metal shelving; boxes of tiles and plastic garden furniture disappeared while the perimeter security was compromised,” Ms Muller alleged.

“Emuraan started the renovations in July 2016 and I estimated it would take two weeks but he quit in May (2017). I haven’t seen him since and all efforts to contact him have been futile. He drives a BMW 4X4, he is well spoken and presentable.

“The work site was always neat and he was there every morning. That is his modus operandi but once he has collected enough money, the trouble starts,” Ms Muller said.

“I went to www.berkeleyhomes.co.za which lists very big projects Emuraan’s company did. A company that claims to have done these projects would never in a million years produce the shoddy work he did for me. I asked him about the branding on his vehicle ‘Barkley Homes’ and he told me it was his company in the UK. I Googled it and I doubt very much it is his company.”

Mr Hendricks said: “It is unfortunate that Victoria Bodley, not the client, Mrs Bodley, chose to go this route (the media) when the dispute could have been resolved amicably or by arbitration as agreed upon by both parties in contract.

“Work on the job progressed well and in consultation up until Ms Bodley would not pay for work done thus far, claiming she would pay when the job is completed.

“That was not in accordance with our contract, which stipulated progress draws and had been explained to the client. At this point there was no dispute regarding completed work.

“Naturally when payment isn’t forthcoming as agreed upon, the work has to cease. I tried many occasions to resolve the issue with her so we could continue, but to no avail.

“While chatting, Ms Muller asked where I got the name from. I told her I liked the name from my time in England. She obviously misunderstood. It would be ludicrous for me to claim affiliation with any other company.

“Barbara Stephenson has withheld final payment for her job claiming snags that need fixing. This I have been happy to take care of, within reason. With tenants in the property the snag list keeps changing and is ongoing as one can well imagine.

“The claims and allegations are false, based on distortion of facts and hearsay in order to avoid contractual financial obligations. Our many happy clients can attest to our excellent service. I have no further comment.”

Mr Hendricks also lists an apartment that he built at the V&A for a Wierzycka, which is apparently owned by Magda Wierzycka, who manages an asset company.

Her PA, Jaco du Plessis, told me that neither she nor the “construction company which does her work know Hendricks”.