Cowboy builders target the elderly

By Maurice Garvey

COWBOY builders targeted a vulnerable pensioner – charging €800 to complete nothing at her home. Anna Das (76), who lives alone in a bungalow at Deansrath Park, Clondalkin, required a tradesman to fix a drainage problem in January.

Water builds up and lodges in the back garden when it rains – turning the area into a giant puddle and diverting water into the home.

Anna Das 1 

Anna is effectively housebound, as she suffers from a litany of medical issues including cancer, spinal problems, and recently had a stroke.

She saw an advertisement in a newspaper for a paving and concrete company (who list their address as Pembroke Street, Dublin 2), and arranged for them to come out.

Anna said: “They were here for less than an hour, and ran an angle grinder around a bit of the garden. They put some stuff down, which looks like sand but didn’t dry out for a week. I paid them and thought no more of it. I’d saved up the money for the job – it’s not easy on the pension.”

Anna Das 2

After realising she had been conned, Anna reported the incident to gardaí but says they are “unable to do anything.”

She rang the concrete and paving company to request her money back, and was told “we were never out there”.
The pensioner has filed a case with the Small Claims Court, but without a proper address for the paving company, she does not expect any prosecution to take place.

Meanwhile, reputable builders have warned elderly people to be more stringent before hiring tradesmen for work.

Neilstown resident James Ormond, who operates Roofing and Building.ie, has carried out free work for elderly people in dire straits, and is trying to establish a local tradesman organisation for that specific cause.

“I’m coming across this a lot – the home address is more than likely just a PO box,” said James.

“The best thing someone can do is investigate and to check for referrals before they hire.”

Straight off the bat, Mr Ormond said he would try to resolve the problem at Ms Das’s.

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