160 Home Improvement Contractors nabbed in Connecticut Spring Sting

News earlier this week from Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection. The DCP’s 7th sting operation netted 150 unregistered contractors. 10 other contractors were cited for illegal contracts or contract language violations.

The unregistered contractors will be notified by mail of their violations, pay $500 in fines, and have to register with the state according to the Connecticut Post. The Post article also raises some valid concerns:

That so many were caught is a sign consumers need to be wary when hiring contractors, according to consumer protection officials and business leaders. But, they added, the very regulations being violated might also be driving up the costs for legitimate businesses and opening up the opportunity for a sort of black market of home improvement services.

But the last word should go to DCP Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr.:

“These operations also serve as a reminder to consumers that while the Department administers the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund which provides up to $15,000 to victimized consumers, the money is only available to homeowners who have used a registered contractor. That is why it is so important to verify your contractor’s registration before signing any contract or giving them any money.”

Props: The Connecticut Post.

Read the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection press release.

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 Topix.net.

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!

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