NC6 Investigates: Making Sure You Pick The Right Contractor
By Mike Miller, WJBF Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter - email
Augusta, GA -
Last week, Hughes Roofing Company was cited in Columbia County for not pulling a permit and for not having a business license. The owner of Hughes Roofing, Sean Hughes, appeared in court on Wednesday to answer the charges.
Hughes contested the violations and asked the judge for a trial.
In the meantime, more homeowners have come forward with complaints about Hughes Roofing.
Gail Barletta may have a new roof on her home now, but she says it took months for that to happen. The Hephzibah homeowner says she called Hughes back in February because of roof damage.
"When he came to my house to do the estimate, he was the perfect businessman,” she said.
But Barletta says that changed after she gave Sean Hughes a $1,900 down payment.
"I put my phone on speaker phone and he was yelling at me, you're nothing but a spoiled American. You want everything you want, when you want it. No, Mr. Hughes, I want what I paid you for. You haven't paid anything. You're not out of pocket anything, this is insurance money,” Barletta said.
She says after months of fighting, Hughes Roofing finally finished the job, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that she discovered the company never pulled a permit for the work, which is illegal.
Bowles Construction has been doing home repairs in the Augusta area for more than 30 years. Senior Estimator Ralph Bowles says unlicensed contractors are a big problem.
"They're low-balling the estimates. Then they're going in and not finishing the jobs or not doing them properly,” Bowles told News Channel 6’s Mike Miller.
And Bowles also says using an unlicensed contractor could end up costing you big bucks. That's because unlicensed usually means uninsured, which means if something happens to a worker or to your home, you have to pay for it.
And then there's the fact that unlicensed work usually isn't covered by your home insurance policy. All reasons that you should check out the company first.
Bowles advises homeowners to ask questions. He said to ask, “Do they have an office? If so, how long? If they have only been in business for a year and they are 40 or 50 years old, what did they do before? Did they go bankrupt and now they're back in business?”
"No one will ever change a light bulb in my house unless I have a copy of their license, a copy of their insurance, and a pint of blood,” Barletta said.
Hughes is set to appear in court next week after a judge ordered the owner to pay back a homeowner $4,000.
In the meantime, if you want Mike Miller to investigate a story, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.