Judge orders ‘charlatan’ builder to repay woman €60,000

Engineer tells court of ‘slapdash’ and ‘amateurish’ work done by Christy Walsh

Margaret Fagan, of Brompton Lawn, Castleknock, Dublin, pictured leaving the Circuit Civil Court where a judge ordered a builder pay her €60,000 for sub-standard work carried out on her home. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Margaret Fagan, of Brompton Lawn, Castleknock, Dublin, pictured leaving the Circuit Civil Court where a judge ordered a builder pay her €60,000 for sub-standard work carried out on her home. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A Dublin builder, described by a judge as “a charlatan”, has been ordered to repay a woman €60,000 for sub-standard work he carried out on her home.

Carla Murphy, barrister for Margaret Fagan, of Brompton Lawn, Castleknock, said her client entered a written contract with Christy Walsh in 2007 for more than €60,000 to carry out works on her kitchen and utility room.

She said the work was never fully completed and as a result of poor workmanship, she had been advised she would have to have it all re-done.

Ms Murphy said Mr Walsh, of Briarwood Lawn, Mulhuddart, had failed to appear in court to answer the breach of contract claim against him. The court heard he had also failed to show up on previous occasions.

“There has been a complete absence of any professional capacity on the part of this builder,” Judge Terence O’Sullivan said in the Circuit Civil Court.

Tony Reale, a civil engineer, said that in December 2008 he inspected the work carried out on the roof, walls and floors of the build.

He found rotten timber in the rafters of the roof, which had been constructed on a pitch level below what would be considered watertight or safe. He also found that window flashings would have been inoperative when it came to keeping out rain.

‘Haphazard’

Mr Reale described the general plastering work on the walls as “a very amateurish job”.

“Generally the whole system of workmanship was poor, haphazard and slapdash,” Mr Reale said. “It would not be fit for purpose and would require a complete re-construction.”

Mr Reale told Ms Murphy that such re-construction work could cost up to five times the original €60,000-plus that Ms Fagan spent on the project.

Judge O’Sullivan said Ms Fagan had taken the not unusual road of speaking to people the builder had done work for before and unfortunately she had not been given good advice.

“It appears Mr Walsh was a complete charlatan when it comes to building work,” Judge O’Sullivan said. “The difficulty is that when you don’t have an architect who can stand over the work of the builder you can find yourself in a position that the plaintiff now finds herself in.”

Judge O’Sullivan said Ms Fagan behaved reasonably and that Mr Walsh had complete advantage of her.

“The work was dangerously sub-standard and will have to be taken down. It was haphazard and slapdash as described by Mr Reale and this unfortunate lady is now in a situation where she has to re-do the work,” Judge O’Sullivan said.

He said Ms Fagan was entitled to have her money back and he assessed damages at €60,000, the full jurisdiction of the Circuit Court. He also awarded costs against Mr Walsh.