Wayne Hay, who traded as Inside and Out Property Refurbishments, was recommended to Mr Krekar Kawani by the accountant's brother, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
They agreed a six stage £70,000 project to turn the property, in Woodbury Road, Halesowen, into a long-term home for the owner who transferred £23,800 to the defendant for the first stage and most of the second on January 19 last year, explained Mr Richard Franck, prosecuting.
It was two weeks before any workers appeared and they did not stay long, leaving after stripping out some wallpaper.
They did not return until February when they spent three days removing an internal wall.
When Mr Kawani arrived to check on the project's progress he was horrified to discovered the ground floor was flooded because the workers had burst a pipe and forgotten to turn the water off, continued Mr Franck.
A stream of messages followed between him and Hay during which the builder was urged to come back to work or return the money but both pleas fell on deaf ears so Dudley Council's Trading Standards Department were alerted and their expert estimated that the completed work was worth just £2,000.
Meanwhile the 44-year-old defendant had frittered away the five-figure cash advance in four weeks on day-to-day living, said the prosecutor who concluded: "He was paid a lot of money and did nothing in return."
Mr Kawani said in a statement: "This has had a devastating impact on me.
"I lost a large amount of my savings and had to borrow from the bank to employ another builder.
"It was an extremely stressful time during which I came close to an emotional breakdown on a number of occasions."
Mr Harpreet Sandhu, defending, claimed Hay failed to concentrate of the job because a break down in the relationship with his partner - now repaired - left him with a "shambolic existence.".
The defendant, from Corner Lane, Webheath, Redditch, pleaded guilty to stealing £23,800 and running a fraudulent business between January 18 and April 23 last year.
He was jailed by Judge Amjad Nawaz who warned "those who prey on others, lulling them into agreement for work they have no intention of doing" should expect immediate custody.