How DIY SOS saved The Doll’s House, DIY SOS and ‘The Dolls’ House’

So, see how using could have helped home owner Michael Purdie avoid cowboy builders and not have to call on Nick Knowles and the DIY SOS team to rebuild ‘The Dolls’ House’…

Kevin Byrne, CEO of is championing Michael Purdie, victim of a West Sussex rogue trader, who has written a book about his experiences in a book called ‘The Dolls’ House’. All proceeds are going to BBC Children in Need.

The book follows Michael’s story from a cowboy builder leaving him to live in a derelict cottage through to DIY SOS The Big Build and the launch of a special project to restore Michael’s home. It also tells of his legal attempts to hold the trader to account and ‘Mike’s Mob’, a group of online supporters recognising his plight.

Despite employing a builder recommended to him by word-of-mouth, Michael lost thousands of pounds when the trader absconded mid-project, leaving the property dangerously incomplete. Michael found himself on the brink of financial ruin, with his and his son’s health in real danger.

Kevin understands the impact of rogue trader activity only too well.

He comments: “I created my firm as I could see opportunist rogue traders preying on society’s most vulnerable. It is terrible to see that even a trader recommended by Michael’s friends could rip someone off to the extent that he experienced. Michael’s story reinforces the importance of a vetting and monitoring service for trade companies and services.”

Michael found support online, with his plight amassing thousands of followers keen to offer whatever advice they could. At breaking point, two long years after the start of his ordeal, the BBC rescued Michael and turned his life around, sending DIY SOS to entirely restore his cottage, nicknamed ‘The Dolls’ House’  as part of the Big Build series.

Falling victim to a rogue trader is a devastating occurrence which can take years to recover from. After suffering at the hands of a cowboy builder in 2008, Michael only now feels able to reflect on his experiences using his book ‘The Dolls’ House’, which is available in hardback or as a PDF download from, to warn others.

Kevin continues: “To see Michael turn his dreadful experience into a positive that will both raise awareness of cowboy builders among homeowners and raise money for disadvantaged children is a fantastic testament to his strength. Spreading a warning about rogue traders and counteracting that with advice on finding qualified, professional and verified traders is crucial in this day and age.”

Reflecting on his ordeal, Michael observes: “When I employed a trader to work on The Dolls’ House, I was aware of stories of rogue traders but thought a word of mouth recommendation was sufficient. I wish I had used a trade monitoring service like which would have allowed me to view customer feedback from a pool of vetted, monitored and qualified traders.

“I would urge all homeowners looking to employ tradespeople to use a member and avoid unnecessary suffering at the hands of a rogue trader.”

What is helps combat the UK’s rogue trader problem by continuously vetting and monitoring local tradespeople such as builders, plumbers and electricians as well as service providers. The idea was born in 1998 after a tornado hit the small West Sussex town of Selsey. Traders poured in from across the country. Unfortunately, some ripped off the inhabitants of the town. Local businessman, Kevin Byrne, realised there was nowhere to check out the traders’ credentials and the company that became Checkatrade was formed.

Since then, has grown to employ 110 staff with a turnover in excess of £7.5m. It has over 11,800 genuine trade members, growing by an average of 300 new members every month. Over the past 12 months, Checkatrade-certified tradesmen carried out a combined total of £1.4b worth of work, with complaints at just one in 215, compared to the national average of one in four.

One comment

  1. Oh dear, that all seems very unfortunate! You really do have to be careful these days don’t you, thank god for DIY SOS!

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