Broken Contracts: Three customers out nearly $45K to unlicensed Ga. contractor
Three people have come forward saying they paid Billy Cox thousands of dollars and were left with unfinished and dangerous results.
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Joe Sgroe paid a contractor to build him a deck on his John’s Creek home. But after he paid $16,500, the contractor stopped the job with only a few boards screwed to his home.
He reached out to CBS46′s consumer investigator Better Call Harry for help. During the investigation into Cox Construction Services, it was discovered that the owner, Billy Cox, was not licensed nor did he get a permit to do the job. On top of that, an inspector looked at what was done on the deck, and says it was not up to code and dangerous.
“How did he attach that to the house?” Harry asked.
“Well he brought me out to show me when he did it and he said it’s better than code. When I asked why he didn’t use bolts he said he didn’t need them,” Sgroe explained.
After the CBS46 story aired, two more people reached out claiming they were dealing with the same problem after giving Mr. Cox money.
Konstynce Eberhard and her husband are renovating and expanding their grandparent’s home. She hired Cox to do the flooring, exterior work in the carport, and a shower in the master bath.
At first, she says Cox’s crew worked hard on the project. So, when he asked for more money, she says she paid it, totaling $9,200.
“Definitely threw up a red flag but thought you know, they hit it hard the first week, they’re making good progress, we’ll trust him,” Eberhard said.
Before the work was done, the homeowner says they stopped showing up. She filed a police report, but an officer deemed it a civil matter.
“It’s criminal activity if you rob someone on the street you are going to jail but if you rob somebody at their home and you take money for services you did not render and put two screws in a wall it’s a civil matter,” Eberhard said.
She’s frustrated because at this point it is a civil matter, and it’s the same situation for customer number three. She did not want to be identified, but claims Cox once again walked off the job after building a portion of her deck with no permit.
“He never provided receipts and when we started asking questions about where everything was was when he became very defensive and stopped answering our calls,” the homeowner explained.
Two of the customers we spoke to have filed police reports, but say they intend to take Mr. Cox to court in order to get their money back.
Confrontation with Unlicensed Contractor
Before we aired the first investigation, CBS46 reached out to Mr. Cox multiple times. When we went to the address listed on his business card. It was a residential home.
Mrs. Cox came outside and said her husband was at work and gave him a call.
A short time later, Mr. Cox and three men drove up in a truck. After an intense confrontation, Cox drove off without any explanation to where Sgroe’s money went.
CBS46 has attempted to reach Mr. Cox multiple times to get his side of the story. Our questions have gone unanswered.
Also here are some tips from the Georgia Attorney General’s consumer protection division when dealing with contractors.
Be aware of these red flags
Does the contractor:
- Solicit door-to-door?
- Just happen to have materials left over from a previous job?
- Only accept cash payments?
- Ask you to get the required building permits?
- Not list a business number in the local telephone directory?
- Tell you your job will be a “demonstration?”
- Pressure you for an immediate decision?
- Offer an exceptionally long guarantee?
- Ask you to pay for the entire job up front?
- Suggest that you borrow money from a lender he or she knows?
Tips for choosing and working with a contractor
- Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for referrals.
- Contact local trade organizations, such as the Home Builders Association of Georgia, to find contractors in your area.
- Ask the contractor for references of customers who had projects similar to yours. Contact each reference and inspect the work if possible.
- Get written estimates from several companies for identical project specifications.
- Always insist on a contract for work to be performed, with all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing.
- Agree on start and completion dates and have them written into the contract.
- Consider setting payment terms in conjunction with completed stages of the job.
- When the job is done, make sure it matches the terms of the contract.
- Do not pay for any work that is incomplete.