Contractor Good Deeds give happy ending to bad contractor story

When home improvement contractors make the news, it’s usually about the bad, not the good. Great contractors aren’t news, bad contractors are – the rip-off artists and convicted scammers … which is what makes this story about a contractor volunteering to help out a family in need that much better.

I remember reading the original story published at the end of February and just shaking my head. Another bad contractor story. The Brown family had been able to raise $17000 in donations to make their home accessible for their wheelchair-bound son EJ. They paid contractor Frank Bontempo to do the renovations, he took the money, and gutted the home never to return. Mr. Bontempo has since been arrested and charged but he didn’t give the money back and the home was still in ruins. Where did that leave the family? In an absolute crisis.

Enter semi-retired home improvement contractor Dave Prowse. He read a news story about the family’s plight and was moved … moved enough to organize crews of of other volunteer contractors to help out with the rebuilding effort and to get local companies to donate the needed materials – wallboard, kitchen cabinets, baseboards, plumbing and other supplies.

Since then Prowse and his team have been working shifts around the clock to rebuild the home. From the New Haven Register:

Prowse’s crew of 10 or so contractors worked throughout the day, drywalling the five rooms and this week will return to do trim, tile the new handicap-accessible bathroom, paint, install a kitchen and install heat at no expense to the Browns.

Prowse estimates the family should be back home within the next couple of weeks. It just depends on when the materials they need arrive.

The Brown family is truly grateful and inspired by the effort. “It’s what I call a miracle” said Mrs. Brown.

Read more of Contractors come to the aid of bilked homeowners on Greenwich Time. And another story with more details Happy Ending on the New Haven Register. Found originally on

To Dave Prowse and your crew of volunteers (including drywall contractor Noel McNamara, Ned Woods of Image Paint and Restoration and Jeff Valenzano of Jeff Valenzano Builders Inc.), you are all “great contractors” and good men – we salute you!

Mike Holmes Green Building Initiative

Mike Holmes, the crusading contractor / star of Holmes on Homes is in talks with home builders about forming a new building company to construct “eco-friendly homes that meet standards above the building code basics” across Canada.

If you’ve watched his show (on the Discovery Home channel in the US and HGTV in Canada), you know he likes to rail about the declining quality of new homes and the shoddy workmanship he finds. Now he’s trying to do something about it. And going green to boot.

“We’re in negotiations and talks now about building communities,” Holmes said. “We’ll start out West and then move right across the country.”

The concept is to build homes that are designed and inspected by Holmes, using eco-products that have the Holmes seal of approval.

Can it get any better??

Read more: Holmes to build with eco-friendly edge.

DIY Part 4 – DIY Advice from a Master Electrician

I stumbled upon Wayne Gilchrist’s DIY Electrical blog, when looking for “real contractor” blogs. There are a lot of home improvement blogs out there, but only a few of them seem to have “real people” behind them, let alone “real contractors”. The blog covers a wide range of electrical articles and questions. Said Wayne, “… people get stumped in the middle of their project a need a simple answer to help them continue forward and complete their electrical project.”

So when looking at writing a series of posts on DIY, interviewing him seemed a natural thing to do.

Curious about when people are making the call. Is it the planning stage – figuring out what they need to do? Or when they’re actually stuck?

Wayne’s answer: when they get stuck. “Most of the time, they have wired almost everything wrong and I need to have them remove everything and start over. I am trying to figure out a way to get these DIYers to come to me first and I will help them plan, design, layout and install their electrical wiring safely and help keep them within their budget.”

Wayne has a new site that can help with free articles and diagrams plus reference books (like the National Electrical Code for example) and testing tools you can buy. Wayne is also “working on several ebooks and videos for DIY electrical wiring projects that will include step by step instructions, materials lists and tools lists for each project”. Sounds really helpful.

Enquiring minds want to know more. What types of electrical projects do people tend to need help with? What are they taking on?

“These DIYers are very brave and willing to take on almost any electrical wiring project … You name it, [they're] willing to try it”. Wayne has helped people repair switches, lights and receptacles, install ceiling fans, change breakers, add sub-panels and more over the phone.

One thing Wayne reiterated is that he wished more people would do their research before getting started on their DIY electrical projects. If it works out, Wayne will never hear from them. When it doesn’t work out, he is of the opinion that more research and planning would have made the difference.

Do you sometimes have to recommend they get an electrician if they are in over their heads?

“Yes I do. I always recommend them getting a licensed electrician. I can offer my advice, but it is no substitute for an electrician being at their home. I can only offer advice on the information that is given to me. However, an experienced electrician will look around everywhere and see problems that the DIYer will not.”

One final question. How are these stuck DIYers finding you when they need you? Do they already know of your site? Or do they find you by Google?

Do it yourselfers find Wayne through search engines,, and Yahoo! Answers. Wayne answers a lot of electrical questions on Yahoo. “I have noticed there are a lot of self-proclaimed experts offering very bad electrical advice on Yahoo! Answers” sez Wayne. Well that’s good to know! Sort of scary too.

Wayne offers DIY electrical help by phone, instant messenger, or email. Check out for more details and rates.

About Wayne (from research on the internet):

He’s a master electrician with 20 years experience. He has a 5-star rating on ServiceMagic, from real customers with real electrical jobs. Check out his profile on Yahoo! Answers.

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