LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Tamara Bilewski had a vision to turn her backyard patio into an outdoor oasis. She found what she thought was a contractor online and agreed to a bid with the company All Phase Home Services.
In total, Bilewski wrote five checks to the company and its owners, Vince and Rihannon Mascarenas, for more than $12,000. The money was cleared, but the work was not.
Bilewksi started digging, and found faulty insurance documents and no building permits for All Phase Home Services, which had an F rating by the Better Business Bureau.
So she filed complaints with the district attorney and the Attorney General Office and put a stop to the work.
“I contracted for something that I didn’t get, was never completed, and not all the materials were delivered,” Bilewski said.
It happened in July and All Phase Home Services is no longer in business. But the dreams of her new deck were still there, so even after spending $12,000, a new contractor was called in.
“It was one of the shoddiest things I have ever seen,” said Tom Beck of T A Beck Construction.
The structure and electrical work were deemed to be unsafe, and all of the previous work had to be taken down and rebuilt.
“All this is tragic, horrific,” Beck said. “It’s very, very common -- not to this extent -- but it’s an everyday occurrence in Colorado.”
The FOX31 Problem Solvers found many states have contractor licensing boards, or a watchdog for contractors, but Colorado does not.
When people like Bilewski are taken advantage of, it hurts the legitimate contractors in the state.
“If there was a contractor’s license board, it would monitor these contractors,” Beck said. “It would also raise the bar, so to speak. There would be less contractors but the ones available would be more knowledgeable, capable, and worthy to complete the job.”
A few reminders when searching for a contractor.
- Check references
- Never give money up front
- Check the company’s name with the Better Business Bureau
- Call the contractor’s insurance company to make sure the policy is current
- Never pay in cash
Beck added that as a rule of thumb, if the job takes less than a month, you shouldn’t give the contractor any money up front -- other than if they need financial help in buying materials.
Only then pay the material supplier directly for materials. If the job is more than 30 days, set up a payment schedule.