A VICAR recovering from cancer and her husband have spoken of their “agonising” experience after a planned extension to their home went disastrously wrong, leaving them more than £30,000 out of pocket.

Lissa and Nigel Scott said they wanted to warn other homeowners after being introduced to builder John Anthony Howard by a surveyor friend of Mrs Scott’s.

The Darlington builder was given 14 days to pay compensation to the couple after an adjudicator in an argument between the two parties said much of the work carried out was defective and needed to be demolished in order to be rebuilt to proper standards.

However Mr Howard, who has denied there is anything wrong with the work and disputes the adjudicator’s findings, has yet to pay and as a result the Scotts are taking legal advice.

His company Darwell Limited, which trades as Howard Builders, boasts of being a “quality Darlington builder” with “a vast experience in building, over 30 years in the industry”.

Mr and Mrs Scott bought a new home in Heighington, near Darlington, after downsizing from the vicarage in the village and wanted to add a garage and further storage space.

After agreeing a price of just under £36,000 plus VAT with Mr Howard, who stated he could start straightaway, work began in December last year.

After repeated problems Mr and Mrs Scott requested the work be suspended three months later, paying an independent surveyor to produce an expert witness report which said the quality of the workmanship “[fell] well below that which would be deemed reasonable care and skill”.

Mrs Scott, who has been vicar of Heighington since 2011, said: “We thought it was sub-standard and so bad and when the surveyor came out he agreed.

“There was a problem with the gable end, it’s not attached to the wall, and even as someone who knows not a lot about building it is clearly awfully done.”

They terminated a contract that had been drawn up for the work and the matter was placed in the hands of an adjudicator appointed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

He determined they should be repaid £20,000 for substandard work plus a further £700 for repairs and any legal costs.

Mrs Scott said: “These past few months have been agony, although the eventual result has been a huge relief.

“He [Mr Howard] employed a solicitor to deal with the adjudication process, but we couldn’t afford that as he has had all of our money.”

In total the Scotts’ handed over £27,000 for the work, using their savings to foot the bill.

But added to this Mrs Scott said it will cost £7,000 to take down the partially-built garage and a further £1,400 to pay for a new kitchen door and window damaged during the course of the build.

Mr Scott, who suffers from a chronic back complaint, said Mr Howard failed to provide any detailed costings in terms of material and labour.

The 64-year-old, a former college lecturer and magistrate, said: “He seemed to know what he was talking about, but things cropped up on a daily basis that were giving cause for concern.

“He [Mr Howard] would appear from time to time shouting and bawling at the half a dozen people involved and would then disappear.

“We were also told it was just a bit of pointing that was required.”

Mrs Scott, 60, who is having to extend her retirement as she can no longer afford to leave the church when she originally planned, said: “When they got to roof level, they said they had put the metal girders in at the wrong height and suddenly announced they wanted to change the roof design.

“We realised subsequently they had bought the wrong size girders and we also got bills for extras which we hadn’t agreed.

“Nigel was ill, I was busy and I suppose there was an element of us putting our head in the sand and being told it would all be alright, and wanting to believe it.

“But it [the work] is atrocious. We said to the surveyor ‘I suppose you have seen worse’, and he said ‘Never’.

“We just want the opportunity to warn other people to be careful so no-one else ends up in the position we have.

“This has had a huge impact on both our health and has been enormously stressful. I like to think the best of people and this makes it very difficult to trust people now.”

Mr Howard, 61, has held directorships with 19 different firms, a number of which have been dissolved or failed to file accounts with Companies House.

His website describes completing successful projects for large companies, public sector organisations, commercial landlords and private house owners.

It also highlights how Howard Builders is a member of various industry membership schemes, something the Scotts have challenged with a complaint to trading standards.

A reporter attempted to speak to Mr Howard at a registered address belonging to him in Clark’s Yard, Darlington, which is home to another of his ventures, My Haven Properties.

However, when asked if he knew the Scotts, he said there was “nothing to say”.

Mr Howard’s solicitor David Birks, of Northallerton-based Newtons Solicitors, also failed to respond to a request for a comment.

A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that a complaint has been made to Trading Standards and it is currently under investigation.”