A FAMILY say they face losing their home before Christmas after a builder’s work left them heavily in debt.

A structural engineer ruled that a loft conversion carried out by D Power Construction had inadequate floor support, poor insulation, incorrectly fitted stairs, as well as no proper fire escape, among a host of other problems.

Joanne Fitzsimmons says she spent thousands on legal fees and expert engineers’ reports before finally taking company director, builder Darren Power, to court and winning her case.

Mr Power’s company was ordered to pay more than £26,000 in compensation.

The battle has left Ms Fitzsimmons in ‘substantial’ debt and struggling to pay the mortgage she took out to pay for the loft conversion.

Ms Fitzsimmons and her two children moved in to her mother’s three-bedroom home in Hexham Avenue, Doffcocker, following the death of her stepfather from cancer.

But to accommodate the four of them in the property, a loft conversion was needed to provide enough space.

Ms Fitzsimmons turned to Mr Power — someone she had known for years — to carry out the work.

But she says it turned out to be the worst decision of her life. The mum-of-two said: “I thought once we had the work done we would have a few years without any worry. He didn’t finish the work until December, 2014 and by June, 2015 I realised something was very wrong with it. We’ve never had a break from worry since then., it’s been one thing after another. The loft was two rooms — a bedroom and a play room. I couldn’t afford a storage unit so had to pile everything downstairs. We had a quarter of my mum’s house to live, eat and socialise in for six months.”

After a structural engineer inspected the house she was told to empty the loft and immediately put props in place to support it.

Since the court ruling in September Ms Fitzsimmons says she has not seen a penny and says Mr Power is living the high life while her family remains saddled with debt and without the financial means to repair the crumbling house.

And she is furious that Mr Power has, to date, escaped paying a penny, as the judgement is against his limited company, rather than him as an individual.

She said: “He has walked away without shame. I just feel disgust. I just don’t understand how a human being can do that. He has left my property with props and he knows there are two children living under that. The joke of it all is when he was made aware he was in denial there was anything wrong.”

She said: “It needs about £30,000 to restore the house to an adequate and safe condition.

"At present the house cannot be sold due to its dangerous structure. I have responsibility, I have remortgaged a house that had no mortgage. It was my mum’s family home and now she faces losing it because I trusted somebody.” Ms Fitzsimmons continued: “We’re trying to keep life as normal as possible for the children, but there’s nothing to look forward to. We’ve not had a holiday and over the school holidays there have been no days out for them apart from when friends have taken them bowling or to the pictures.

“There’s nothing we can look forward to because we don’t have any money. The reality is we are begging for people to help us. I’m lucky to have amazing friends that do things for us.”

She added that the three-year ordeal had taken its toll on the whole family.

She said: “It’s the same for all of us. We’re angry - angry with one another, the relationship isn’t the same.

“You take it out on the people you love the most. It’s not a nice thing. It’s a constant worry 24 hours a day, there’s no escaping from it. We have the reminder the minute we walk in the door.

“It’s a household that used to be happy but at the minute there’s no end in sight.”

Even a court judgement against D Power Construction proved to be a false dawn for Ms Fitzimmons and her family.

“Every time we thought we had won, we hadn’t – he has won,” she said.

“We really did think it was over in court on September 2 – that justice had been done and we were going to get the happy ending we deserved.”Ms Fitzsimmons has had offers of free labour from ‘fantastic’ friends and members of the community eager to help her out. But her biggest cost remains materials, as the house is in need of ‘a complete rebuild’.

The Bolton News has tried to contact Mr Power, but he is reported to be in the middle of a three-week holiday.

Ms Fitzsimmons has set up a Just Giving page in the hope that people will be able to help her return her house to a habitable condition. To donate, visit at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jofitz

We have been asked to point out by another company, DP Build Ltd, which is owned and run by a different Darren Power, of Hulton Lane, Bolton, that his firm is not connected in any way to D Power Construction, which is listed at Companies House as being based in Waters Meeting Road, Bolton.​