Contractor scam uncovered

One senior has learned the hard way that all contractors are not equal — nor are all of them even licensed.

Josephine Bailey, who owns a multiple-family house in Waterbury LaSalle, hired a contractor from Rockland to work on her home.

She paid the man, whom she does not wish to identify, $5,000 to completely renovate her tenant’s bathroom in April.

It turns out that the contractor was not licensed to work in the Bronx, and apparently does not always finish the jobs he begins.

After more than a week and a half of work, the contractor claimed he was done, but left a section of the newly tiled floor near the bathroom radiator undone.

He also never completed the radiator cover that was supposed to be made specifically for the bathroom.

He also left a large hole in the floor next to the toilet completely exposed, in desperate need of grouting.

He also failed to fix a faucet that didn’t function properly.

Calls placed to the contractor were not returned.

“He did rip out the old bathroom, but he left a lot of things undone in the new one,” Bailey said. “The material that he brought in was very cheap. I have seen much better quality sinks, tubs, and toilets. My niece and nephew both had work done by him and that is how I heard about him. My nephew told me that if he were me he would not use him, but I thought ‘How bad could he be?’”

In addition to not completing the work, Bailey said that the contractor gouged a large hole in a door as he was removing the old bathtub.

“I made quite a few calls to him, maybe 20 in one month, and none were returned,” Bailey said. “It was just a nightmare. He would not come back.”

Bailey, who works two days a week to support herself, said that the three payments she made totaled $5,000 and stretched her household budget to the breaking point.

She reached out to Senator Jeff Klein’s office. Their investigation found that the contractor was only licensed in Rockland County and was not supposed to work in the Bronx.

Klein’s office got in touch with both the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and the Rockland County Department of Consumer Protection.

Soon, the contractor was back in touch with Bailey.

“Consumer Protection must have gotten in touch with him, because when I got home from work one night there finally was a message from the contractor on my machine,” Bailey said.

“He said ‘They are going to fine me and I have a three-year-old and I cannot afford it.’”

“I called him back and asked him why I should trust him, but he promised to finish the work, and sent someone else, who worked for him, to my house the next day.”

Klein said that the three-month fight on behalf of his constituent should serve as a reminder to those planning to hire contractors for home improvements or renovations during the summer season. He warned against using unlicensed contractors.

“Hiring an unlicensed contractor can cost you in ways you never imagined,” said Klein. “I urge all residents to check the status of a contractor’s licence before hiring them to begin any home improvements or repairs. A quick phone call or Internet search can save you money and a lot of hassle.”

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