Houston Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

Houston Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013.

 

Houston Best Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Gretchen Becker


Family Size Home Technology Services | Houston

Slein, owner of Family Size Home Technology Services, offers help with computer repairs and upgrades. (Photo courtesy of Craig Slein)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

When Houston member Patti Master’s cat knocked over her wine, spilling it into her computer vents, she turned to owner Craig Slein to repair the damage. He confirmed the power supply died and ordered a replacement. “I’ve had him do quite a bit of work for me,” she says. “I went ahead and bought a new system, and he did the whole setup.”

After 20 years as a public school technology employee and years of working on computers for friends and family, Slein, who doesn’t need a license, started his own company in 2013. “I finally had time to start my business,” he says. “I ran an Angie’s List Big Deal and had 35 people respond.” Slein, who received 14 Page of Happiness nominations in the past year, goes to clients’ homes or small businesses and occasionally picks up a laptop to take home and work on. When setting up new systems, he recycles the old computer parts.

Member Carolyn Kundiger of Houston says Slein revived two laptops.
“It was easy to understand, and he showed us what he did step by step,”
she says. Personal service keeps customers coming back and giving referrals, Slein says. “They’re like family members,” he says.

Taylor Irrigation Service | Houston

Installing and setting irrigation systems based on plant needs conserves water. (Photo courtesy of John Taylor)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

A strict focus and strong communication hydrate John Taylor’s irrigation company. “We set realistic expectations for our clients and follow through,” he says. “We only provide irrigation services. Most other companies also offer landscaping.”

Taylor’s company designs, services, installs, repairs and maintains irrigation systems as well as controls backflow, which prevents contaminated water from entering the potable water supply. “Per capita, our water consumption in the Houston market is sky high,” he says. “We audit systems to find strengths and weaknesses.”

This work leads to reduced water consumption, says Taylor, who maintains Texas landscape irrigator and backflow prevention assembly tester licenses. His company earned the 2013 EPA Water Partner of the Year Award. Five years ago, the company stopped installing what Taylor says were cheaper, inefficient systems. “We keep track of water bills with each system we upgrade,” he says.

Member Elizabeth Bernard of Kingwood hired Taylor to revamp her irrigation system that previously allowed runoff into the street. Now she waters based on her plants’ needs. “His product was different,” says Bernard, who wrote one of the company’s 14 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year. “If you’re planning to stay in your home, this is the only product you should get. [There’s] ease of use for you, it’s better for environment and water conservation.”

Taylor’s services also reach beyond conservation. Member Hubert Pan of Houston hired the company when his system sprang two leaks. Taylor discovered lines damaged by tree roots, he says. “Another line was in danger of a similar fate in the near future, so they took care of that at the same time,” Pan says. “There are slightly cheaper hourly repair rates out there, but I appreciated the additional service and thought it was well worth it.”

Taylor Irrigation employees also volunteer at Casa de Esperanza de los Niños, which provides shelter and medical care for children.

Baker Roofing Company | Sugar Land

Baker Roofing crews focus on roof function and aesthetics. (Photo courtesy of Richard Baker)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Richard Baker built his business scaling roofs, following up with customers and offering quality construction. He learned the trade from his dad and started Baker Roofing in 2009. “I saw a need for some integrity in the industry,” says Baker, who doesn’t need a license. “Customers are talking directly to the head decision-maker.”

Member Steven Guy of Sugar Land gave the two-time Best Contractor one of 12 Page of Happiness nominations it received in the last year after a leak repair. “He was concerned with more than just getting the repairs done,” Guy says.

Baker recycles shingles and can install white, reflective roofing to conserve energy.

Member Ignacio Aranda called Baker when a hurricane damaged his Houston house and he joined Angie’s List to leave an A review. “We’re completely satisfied with the roof,” he says.

AquaSystems of Houston | Houston

After a home analysis, AquaSystems of Houston installs softeners and drinking water systems. (Photo courtesy of Richard De Young)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Member Kathryn Weiss of Houston says purchasing a water softener changed her life.

Her skin isn’t as dry, her cuticles don’t peel, and her hair is smoother. “[Owner Richard De Young] clearly loves helping Houstonians improve the quality of their water,” she says.  

De Young, who holds a state license, started his franchise 13 years ago after seeing the improvements his water-softening system made. “Anything that touches water in the house will last longer,” he says, adding that water softeners also eliminate the need to use harsh chemicals to clean.

Member Ian Burnett of Katy says he chose AquaSystems because De Young addressed his questions. “I don’t see any additional buildup of hard water stains on my granite countertops,” he says. “It removes chlorine, and the baby’s skin is a lot softer.”

More Best Contractors

Here are some more Best Contractors who made this year’s cut based on their awesome track record for local service. Read their reviews on angieslist.com to learn why members think they’re so special.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.

Houston Worst Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Gretchen Becker

AF Construction | Pasadena

Edwards says Ray Hernandez misplaced this hinge on her bathroom's arched doorway. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Edwards)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Landed in the Penalty Box
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile
  • Illegally unlicensed

Owner Ray Hernandez remains in the Penalty Box after failing to respond to League City member David Bigwood’s 2013 complaint that he paid Hernandez $6,000 to remodel his kitchen and bathroom, but received only sloppy and incomplete work. In addition to writing his F review on the List, Bigwood filed a complaint with the Texas attorney general against Hernandez, who’s operated under several company names, including AF Construction and Allegiance Construction Group, according to member reviews and the Better Business Bureau website.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records indicate Hernandez’s two licenses for an electrical apprentice expired in 2013, and he failed an Angie’s List licensing audit for not holding the required state plumbing and electrician licenses for the type of work that members say the D-rated company was performing. State records also show AF lost its franchise tax status for not paying taxes.

Member Debbie Edwards of Alvin says she hired AF Construction for a $15,000 bathroom renovation, but says she and her husband ultimately fired the company for shoddy and incomplete work and spent an additional $10,000 to finish the work themselves. “I thought we needed to get someone professional because this was a big job,” Edwards says, adding that the job was scheduled to take two weeks and lasted longer than a month. “I never should’ve paid him until the job was complete.”

Peace of Mind, a firm specializing in security systems, filed a lawsuit alleging that Hernandez also owned ATW Management, a Houston telecommunications company, which performed deceptive trade practices. Peace of Mind claims it hired Hernandez as a subcontractor on a project, but he performed shoddy and incomplete work, and took company vehicles and equipment. At press time, the case was set for a late 2013 trial. Harris County court documents also show Seabrook homeowner Mumtaz Suleman obtained a $1,841 default judgment in 2012 against AF Construction, but Hernandez hasn’t paid.

Messages left by phone and email to Hernandez and his attorney were not returned by press time.

Bruno Concrete | Houston

Members say Bruno Desiderio performed shoddy work or jobs he wasn't qualified to do. (Photo courtesy of Troy Morgan)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile
  • Illegally unlicensed

Pasadena Angie’s List members Clifton and Rita Golden filed an F review and sued owner Bruno Desiderio in 2013 for allegedly misrepresenting himself as a qualified residential contractor and abandoning their job before it was done, according to their lawsuit filed in Harris County. The Goldens allege they paid the F-rated company $24,000 toward a $35,000 outdoor kitchen and game room in their backyard, but they say they had to pay other contractors to correct the mistakes Desiderio made, the lawsuit says. They also claim in the lawsuit that Desiderio offered to perform plumbing work, but Harris County district clerk records show he doesn’t hold the required state plumbing license. At press time, Desiderio was slated to give a deposition in the case in November.

Reached by phone, Desiderio says the Goldens kicked him off their property after they didn’t want to pay him more money for changes they requested. Desiderio says the couple’s outdoor kitchen project was more than he typically takes on, and says most of his work involves installing stamped concrete patios, driveways or parking lots. The Goldens didn’t return messages for comment.

Member Troy Morgan says he joined Angie’s List to file an F review on Bruno Concrete after Desiderio did shoddy work on pouring concrete around his pool and on sidewalks. Morgan, who moved to New York after selling his house in Houston, says a neighbor recommended Desiderio, but the contractor didn’t build a proper foundation under the new concrete. “Within the day, there was already a hairline crack,” Morgan says. “Over the next couple of months, it got to be more than a half-inch thick.” He sued the company and obtained a $5,700 default judgment in 2012 when Desiderio failed to show for the court hearing, Harris County court documents show.

Desiderio, who still hasn’t paid the judgment according to court records, claims he hasn’t heard of the case. But in general, Desiderio says, cracks in concrete are normal. “We can’t control the quality of the concrete,” he says. “It can be too hot or have too much water.” Desiderio says he can’t afford to operate his own cement-mixing trucks, and larger, more reputable cement companies won’t work with him because the jobs aren’t big enough.

Texas Outdoor Design | Houston

Edward Karram (Photo courtesy of Houston Police Department)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced criminal charges
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile

Katy Angie’s List members Richard and Nora Hernandez describe Texas Outdoor Design as unreliable and unprofessional in their 2013 F review of the F-rated company. Nora says owner Edward Karram took a $470 deposit to hang Christmas lights and never returned. “He stole our money,” she says.

Three other member reviews complain about the company’s tardiness, unlit displays and shoddy landscape work. Member Patti Evans of Houston left an F review in 2013 after she says her Christmas lights disappeared from her home, even though she’d called the company and canceled service. “Texas Outdoor Designs just showed up unannounced, removed the lights and took them,” she says. The Texas attorney general says two consumers complained about the company.

Karram says the complaints are undeserved. “If it rains two or three days, it prohibits our staff from installing the lights in a safe manner,” he says. Karram remains on probation after pleading guilty to four felony charges of theft and credit/debit card abuse, including one that involved using a customer’s credit card to buy a barbecue wood smoker, says Harris County attorney Valerie Turner.

John Moore Services | Houston

  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Landed in the Penalty Box
  • Notice added to provider's profile

Four different plumbers from John Moore Services tried to repair member Jennifer Mills’ toilet, she says, but none succeeded. “I was always left worse off after each visit,” says The Woodlands resident, who paid the C-rated company more than $2,300. She says they told her they found a crack in her pipes and recommended what turned out to be an unnecessary $26,000 fix.

Mills’ F grade is one of 26 poor reviews the company received from members in 2013 out of a total of 42 reviews. The Texas AG says it’s received 27 complaints from consumers about John Moore overcharging and not issuing refunds.

“It’s important to understand that we service thousands of customers per week,” says John Moore spokesman Tom Cartledge. “These complaints represent a tiny fraction of customers.”

Penalty Box Hall of Shame

The Penalty Box is our way of alerting other members about a provider who has failed to meet a member's expectations. See Houston Penalty Box Hall of Shame.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.


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Owner Charlie Collins finishes work on a residential HVAC unit. (Photo courtesy of Central Heating & Air)
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