San Francisco area's best and worst contractors of 2008

San Francisco area's best and worst contractors of 2008

— by Conor Lee

In addition to our nationwide list, here are the San Francisco contractors who have earned the distinction of being the best or worst in the San Francisco/San Jose area.

The Best

Dave Mattea Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning
San Carlos

Dave Mattea Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning takes pride in outperforming his larger competitors. “Big companies say they’ll be there between 8 and 5, and half the time they don’t show,” Mattea says. “People are amazed I show up on time.”

Punctuality helped earned the one-man operation two recent Super Service Awards. Angie’s List members, who consistently give the carpet and upholstery company “A” ratings, agree this year’s “Best” recognition is well deserved. “He arrived on time and did a fantastic job,” says William Moss of San Mateo. “He removed spots that had never been removed before by other companies.” Other members like Timothy Guiney of Millbrae appreciate Mattea’s thoughtfulness. “He timed the cleaning around a home remodel,” Guiney says. “This was the final touch.”

Dufficy Fine Carpentry & Design

San Francisco

A native of Dublin, Ireland, John Dufficy, owner of Dufficy Fine Carpentry & Design, has traveled the globe, but says he’ll be staying put in San Francisco doing what he loves best — carpentry. “Custom-made furniture is the most satisfying,” he says.

Bay Area Angie’s List members’ satisfaction shows in the “A”-rated reports they give Dufficy. Alan Fairhurst of San Francisco beams over Dufficy’s old-world craftsmanship. “He demolished and rebuilt a rotted staircase in my 1884 Victorian,” Fairhurst says. “The trim matches the home’s architecture. He was perfect for this job.”

Dufficy says he owes his skills, not only to the training he got at City & Guilds, a trade school in London, but to his grandfather. “He was a furniture maker, but not for profit. I’m the first.”

The Worst

Kioa Landscaping and Sione Latu Landscaping
San Francisco

When Paul Nigro of San Francisco looks back on his experience with Sione S. Latu after hiring him to replace his front lawn, he sees the red flags. “He came to the door and made an offer,” Nigro says. “The next morning I gave him about $1,800 for materials, and that’s the last I saw him.”

According to California’s Contractors State License Board, Latu has prior convictions for working without a license and taking deposits without completing the work. A Contra Costa County Superior Court has ordered him to pay $13,000 in restitution penalties dating back to 1999. Edward Dang, supervising attorney with the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, says Latu violated the terms of his probation by failing to pay restitution to Nigro and a warrant was subsequently issued for his arrest. Until he turned himself in three months ago, Latu was featured on the CSLB’s Most Wanted list. At press time, he was serving 190 days in Contra Costa County Jail for violating his probation and couldn’t be reached for comment.

First Impressions Painting & Decorating


When Khalid Ahmad Wilson’s contractor license was revoked in 2004, he didn’t stop working. According to homeowner Bruce Goldsmith of Oakland, Wilson entered into a contract with him in February 2008. “I paid him $4,000 to paint my house,” Goldsmith says. “He dropped a few workers off, who did about $400 worth of work, and I never saw or heard from him again.”

In fact, Wilson began publishing a magazine to attract unsuspecting homeowners like Goldsmith. Prosecutor Scott Patton says Wilson’s dealings with more than a dozen homeowners followed a pattern. “He’d take half the money up front, do minimal work or none at all, and then abandon the project,” he says.

Wilson pleaded guilty in October to two felony counts of diversion of construction funds, one felony count of fraudulent use of a contractor’s license and one misdemeanor count of contracting without a license.

He was sentenced to nine months in jail, five years probation and was ordered to pay $23,000 to his latest 13 victims, including Goldsmith. Peter Van Oosting, Wilson’s court-appointed attorney, declined to comment.

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