On one occasion, John Reid, 42, of Mardale Street, Hetton, told the woman his failure to get the job started was because his grandfather had died.
He later claimed both he and his girlfriend had been hospitalised separately – and he even turned up with a bandaged wrist, a court heard.
And on other occasions in August and September 2020, he told his victim the weather was too inclement to carry out his commitments.
Families ordered to remove 'unauthorised' tributes from loved ones' graves in Sunderland cemeteries
See 11 fantastic pictures from the Seaham Food Festival as thousands of foodies head to the coast
Bus chief denies ‘slice and dice’ of North East travel routes following cuts
Family of Archie Battersbee vow to call for ‘change’ after his death
15 pictures showing exactly why beautiful Washington Village is in the running for Britain in Bloom awards
By that point, he had already pocketed £840 in cash from the Houghton woman in two tranches of £340 and £500.
Despite being found guilty at trial of theft from a person, his solicitor said he still maintained his innocence – and planned to restart his business.
Magistrates in South Tyneside told Reid his crime was “despicable” and warned they had considered jailing him.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “The lady who is the complainant had used the defendant sometime before to do some work on her house.
“On July 28, 2020, she contacted him further to do some pointing. He attended on August 1 and quoted £840.
“He asked for £300 up front for materials and then rang to ask for the remainder because he was a bit short.
“He came back later that day and got £540 and said he would start work on August 3. Low and behold, he didn’t turn up.
“He then rang to say his grandfather had died, and by September 2 it was still a no-show, he said he had been in hospital.
“She told him that she didn’t believe him. He turned up with a bandage on his wrist.
“On September 14, he had still not been, and he said he would be there by the Wednesday.
“On the 16th, he again didn’t turn up but said his girlfriend was in hospital.
“On September 17, she rang him to say she wanted her money back. He again didn’t show up. That was the day that broke the camel’s back.”
Joanne Gatens, defending, said: “I can’t mitigate the offence because the defendant maintains that he is innocent of the offences.
“There’s been no convictions during this time. I ask you to take account of the passage of time. There’s been no further offences.
“He’s hopeful of restarting his business.”
Magistrates ordered Reid to repay the money in entirety to the householder as compensation, and he must pay £620 court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
He was also handed a 12-month community order, with 250 hours of unpaid work.
Dr Alistair Robson, chair of the bench, told Reid: “What you did was despicable. At one stage, we seriously thought about locking you up.
“If someone had done this to one of your relatives, your aunt, your mother, you’d be spitting blood. You knew you did it yet you went to trial.”