Homeowners beware unqualified contractors - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Homeowners beware unqualified contractors

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August 9, 2004

Albany- Elvie Hicks hoped she'd be moving back into her childhood home on South Davis Street.

Instead, she's paid thousands of dollars for work that hasn't been done, like $2,500 for a so-called electrician whom she hasn't seen since.

"He was supposed to upgrade the electrical in my house. He said the electrical work was not up to par," said 64-year-old Hicks.

She also paid more than $2,000 for an air conditioner she later found out only cost about $900. She was trying to handle the arrangements from her home in California, but has ended up with one bad deal after another.

"They're not licensed and they're not coming back," said Sergeant Russell McDonald with Albany Police Department.

That's against the law, a felony in fact. And it is something homeowners should protect themselves from by doing some research.

"The best thing to do is for the homeowner to contact the building inspection department and have them checked out to see if they do have a reputable business and business license," McDonald said.

He does expect several arrests in this case, but it's still under investigation. Also, when this happens to people in Georgia who are 65 or older, the possible penalty increases from five years in jail to 10.

The most important rule is not dealing with anyone who wants you to pay in full for work before it's finished. That's one way Elvie ended up with an unfinished home and an empty checkbook.

"I've spent, cash money, about $40,000," Hicks said.

Thousands of more dollars have been charged to her credit cards too for supplies that may or may not be on her property.

It was all in an effort to return to Albany in a better built home.

posted at 9:58 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com