AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — In 2015, the FOX31 Problem Solvers investigated a contractor who was allegedly paid for jobs he never finished. Seven years later, new customers are suing the same contractor for work that did not meet code.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers first introduced you to Bruce Kolbe in 2015 when he painted half of a woman’s house and then allegedly walked away with her money. Several others contacted us after that story, saying they were also scammed out of money by Kolbe.
In 2018, Kolbe emerged again when he messed up Steve Buchner’s concrete job. Buchner, an Aurora resident, took Kolbe to court and won a small claims judgment for roughly $1,700. However, he still hasn’t been paid four years later.
Now, there’s a new $70,000 contracting nightmare involving Kolbe coming to the FOX31 Problem Solvers out of Aurora.
After $70K spent, city terminates work
“We were looking to make a family home, somewhere we could settle down early on,” customer Michael Horak said.
Michael and Monika Horak decided to skip an expensive fairytale wedding to invest every penny they could into adding on to their property to make their dream home. Blueprints for the addition plans show a specific foundation system needed to support their project. The Horaks said they gave Kolbe these prints and contracted him to do the job.
“He assured me that he has done projects like this. What he told us, we believed him,” Michael said.
However, the couple’s faith quickly ran out after a city inspector took a look at the beginning foundation work. A correction notice supplied to the FOX31 Problem Solvers shows the work was terminated for not being “per plan” and violating Aurora building code.
“It was a heart attack. My heart really did sink, I was shocked,” Michael said. The Horaks said they had already put in $75,000 when they discovered they would have to start all over again.
Kolbe, in a phone call with the FOX31 Problem Solvers, denied it all.
“This guy is lying from head to toe. Their project was expanded because they changed the plans,” Kolbe said.
After lawsuit, contractor fires back
The Horaks tell the FOX31 Problem Solvers the foundation plans never changed. On top of paying for new contractors, they are now paying for attorney Darrel Damschen, suing Kolbe for $70,000 back as he counter-sues them.
“He [Kolbe] has been a party to 51 lawsuits over the years,” Damschen said. “That’s unusual. You don’t run into many people that have been sued that many times.”
“I wish some laws would be changed to stop people like this,” Aurora Resident Steve Buchner said.
Buchner said he is getting sick of waiting for years for his settlement from Kolbe and believes there should be more done to hold contractors accountable.
“He’s sent me texts saying, ‘I’m not going to pay you a penny, I’m going to take it from you and that’s it,’” Buchner said. “He just continues to mess around with the courts and the company’s name and God knows what else, but he’s continuous about this and he just keeps on going.”
“Steve Buchner won a court decision because he’s a liar,” Kolbe said.
Kolbe tells the FOX31 Problem Solvers the handful of stories we have reported and the list of cases filed against him in court do not reflect his work accurately.
“I’ve watched 100 cases adjudicated in small claims court and I’ve never once seen any contractor win. I have seen one break even,” Kolbe said.
The Problem Solvers asked Koble if he is claiming the customers coming to the Problem Solvers for help are then are all lying.
“I have 500 of my customers that my lawyer has that will tell you the exact opposite,” Kolbe said. “I always do what I say, I always complete the project as long as you stick to the scope of work, and I get paid.”
How to file contractor complaints
The Problem Solvers attempted to sit down with Kolbe and his lawyer but received no further response and no names of satisfied customers to vouch for his work.
“This needs to be taken more seriously,” Monica Horak said.
Consumer experts advise not paying for jobs up front and researching complaints against the contractor individually, instead of just a company name.
The Problem Solvers reached out to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office, which can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A spokesperson said that if someone believes he or she is a victim of criminal contractor fraud, that person needs to file a criminal complaint with the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction. If the person needs help in assembling material for that complaint in the 18th Judicial District, there is an Economic Crimes Unit that can help walk through what is required.