A kind-hearted builder has given a Stoke-on-Trent family a very special Christmas present – by fitting their new bathroom for free.
Householder Mark Batkin, from Longton, was finding his old facilities ‘too high maintenance,’ so he was looking to replace his bathroom tiling with cladding and carry out a few other improvements.
The 57-year-old had hired a builder through a friend of a friend. But after just one day working, he told Mark he could no longer continue with the project.
The bathroom, used by Mark, his wife and step-daughter, was left in an unfinished and unusable state.
“It was one of those situations where somebody knew somebody who knew somebody,” said Mark. “So we went with them, and I took some time off work to sort things out and be available.
“He started on the Monday and it took him all day to take the tiles off. Then he went home and said to us on the Tuesday morning, ‘I can’t do it, it’s too big of a job’.
“The bathroom was unusable and stripped back to bare brick. Thankfully, he didn’t take any money. The job was set to be around £600, but we knew that the added damage he had created would make it more expensive.
“Throughout the next hour, we were googling different companies, and HIM came up. I called three different places, but HIM seemed to have the best credentials and were the most reputable, so we went with them.
“John and Peter from HIM came along and they were really nice chaps. They were very understanding and reassuring and went through everything. They said it was a really bad situation.
“We discussed what needed doing and they went through quotes and then, a couple of weeks later, they got back in touch to say that the work would be going ahead and they wanted to do it free of charge.
“I am so grateful to them for such an amazing gesture. I can’t tell you the relief that we felt, because we didn’t know how we were going to be able to afford it.
“It was originally going to be about £600 to replace the tiles with cladding, but then because of the damage caused by the first person, there was a lot more to be done, including plumbing work.
“It would have been around £3,000 and we just don’t know how we would have afforded it. We would have found a way, but it would have been such a burden for us.
“To have this offer, completely out of the blue, is just such a great Christmas present. It’s going to make such a difference to us and I can’t tell you how grateful we are. They’ve rescued us.”
Builder and director of HIM Building, John Sale, is the man behind the team who have sorted the original cladding work for Mark and his family, as well as repairs to the window sill, the walls, and a new vanity unit.
The 41-year-old, from Cheadle, said: “Mark rang us for a quote and we didn’t realise the extent of the damage until we arrived at his house.
“He had been left in the lurch right before Christmas, and I just felt so sorry for him and his family. We met them all and they were so nice.
“The price point was a major concern and I knew that what he was asking for wasn’t going to last, so we wanted to do it properly. But obviously, that would put the price up. So we just decided to do it for him anyway.
“Mark came to us because we are a bigger firm and I suppose he just wanted that bit of security and peace of mind.
“Covid has really hurt us, just as it has so many other businesses. Jobs were cancelled and our turnover dropped, but there are so many people out there in far worse situations.
“And when you go to someone’s house, like Mark’s, and he can’t even have a bath because of the state of the bathroom, it really puts things into perspective after you’ve been all doom and gloom for so long.
“We are able to use our skills to do something positive for someone in need, so why wouldn’t we?
“Mark was so emotional when we told him that we would do it for free, and he just couldn’t believe it.
“I wanted to put a smile on his face and we did just that. I also wanted to show him and everyone else out there that you might come across these cowboy builders, but not everyone is like that, and the majority of builders and building firms are decent, reliable people.”