The pair’s problems with disappearing tradesmen meant scheduling work was a nightmare.

The project was eventually finished just before Christmas 2022, well over a year behind schedule, and at a cost of around £40,000 to £45,000. And it only got done because Clive took over the painting and laid the timber floors himself, staying at the part-finished house.

“I was sleeping on the floor for over a year,” he says. “We didn’t have a kitchen for weeks, so I lived on sandwiches.”

‘We couldn’t find a bricky for love nor money’

Another home renovator, Madeleine Lewis, also suffered from a lack of available tradesmen.

In 2019 she purchased an eight-bedroom Victorian house, along with a plot of land with planning consent for three new houses.

She thought the run down house could become a family home for them and their daughters, now seven and ten. Her husband, a property developer, could manage the new build side of the work.

At the start of 2022 the family of four moved into rented accommodation and began.

The property needed new bathrooms, an extended kitchen, rewiring and replumbing.

“It was absolutely horrendous,” says Lewis, 44, a former teacher who now runs an events and hospitality company.

“People know that any sort of labor is in short supply and so they are obviously working with what we charge. We were asked to pay £300-a-day for a tiler,” she says. “You could not find a bricklayer for love nor money.”

The first company hired to fix up the house were rapidly sacked. “They did everything wrong,” Lewis says, adding their replacements were much better – but very expensive.

Meanwhile, the family spent almost a year squeezed into a tiny flat, with the girls in bunk beds in the bedroom, their parents sleeping on the kitchen floor.

The family were finally able to move into the house a few days before Christmas. They have, so far, spent around £1.2m, yet there is still a way to go. A temporary wall in the kitchen hides the fact that the extension is not complete, the cellar needs attention, and there is a long list of snagging to do.

“We have doors, but we don’t have door handles,” she says. “It’s all the funny little jobs like that end up costing a lot because everyone is paid a day rate not a job rate.”

‘I messaged 15 firms, but only three revised’

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