Worst Columbus Contractors of 2010
Columbus Fire Repair, Nations Construction LLC | Westerville, Wickliffe and Novelty, Ohio
Following a fire that forced them from their home, Lockbourne residents Diane and Timothy Cade say Columbus Fire Repair owner William W. Bridge III showed up at their hotel room within hours and offered to make repairs. "We were vulnerable and had to put our faith and trust in someone," says Diane, adding that she paid Bridge more than $30,000, but he only did $4,000 worth of work before walking off the job.
Scott Messer of the Columbus Department of Building and Zoning says his department suspended Bridge's license in September for one year for building code violations. Bridge, 56, who also does business as Nations Construction, Columbus Fire Restoration and Nitro Restoration, subscribed to a pager service that alerted him to fires throughout the Columbus area, according to a November 2009 lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.
The suit, based on complaints from 13 alleged victims, charges Bridge with Ohio consumer law violations, including shoddy workmanship and deceptive sales practices. It seeks to ban him from working in the state until he pays restitution and civil penalties. Angie's List member Roberta Newton of Kennesaw, Ga., submitted an F report on Bridge after she paid him more than $50,000 to repair her mother's fire-damaged home in Columbus. She says Bridge did shoddy work and lied about building permits and inspections. "It's been a nightmare," Newton says.
Both Newton and the Cades are among eight witnesses named in the AG lawsuit. In an e-mail to Angie's List Magazine, Bridge, who has prior criminal convictions for theft and breaking and entering, says the AG lawsuit against him is unfounded. "The AG clearly failed to investigate the allegations before filing the complaint," he says. AG spokeswoman Kimberly Kowalski says the lawsuit speaks for itself.
KEF Renovations LLC | Columbus, Ohio
Wendy Pecikonis of Powell, Ohio says she joined Angie's List in April after Keith E. Fosnaught, owner of KEF Renovations, improperly built her shower floor then walked off the job after she asked to see his insurance policy. "He hasn't returned any calls and failed to hold up his contractual obligations," says Pecikonis, who hired Fosnaught for a $25,000 master bathroom remodel.
Pecikonis says Fosnaught's substandard work wasn't to code and resulted in thousands of dollars in damage to her dining room ceiling. "He hasn't paid the subcontractors and he was never licensed," says Pecikonis, who filed a civil suit in Delaware County.
The suit has stalled, she says, because Fosnaught can't be located. Retiree Shirley Tyree of Columbus says she paid Fosnaught more than $15,000 to remodel her kitchen - only to find out that he never paid the countertop, cabinet or flooring subcontractors.
Tyree says when she approached Fosnaught about the missing payments, he stopped coming to her house or returning her calls. The cabinet company placed a lien on her home, Tyree says, and she fears the other two companies will do the same. She's filed a civil suit against Fosnaught. Neither Pecikonis nor Tyree are hopeful they'll recoup their money, as Fosnaught has already declared bankruptcy three times since 2000, according to court records. "I feel like there's nothing I can do but warn others to avoid him," Tyree says.
Fosnaught's phone number has been disconnected and multiple attempts to contact him via e-mail have remained unanswered.
Hometown Improvements | Columbus, Ohio
Hometown Improvements, named one of Columbus' Worst Contractors for 2009, is back this year after the Ohio attorney general filed suit in March, accusing company owner Richard K. Hatfield of contracting with homeowners to do repairs, collecting payments in full and then failing to provide the promised service. Newark resident Bernard Brown, one of 23 alleged victims named in the AG's case, says he paid Hatfield more than $2,000 for gutter covers in 2008 - but Hatfield never installed them. No trial date has been set.
The company landed in the Penalty Box in 2008 for not responding to a member's complaint about incomplete roof work. The case resulted in a notice to alert members. Phone numbers for Hatfield, who isn't registered to work in Columbus, are disconnected and his attorney didn't return messages. Premier Design Consultants Inc. Galloway, Hilliard and Columbus Premier Design Consultants, named one of Columbus' Worst Contractors for 2009, returns in 2010 after a judge ordered company owner Jeffrey Shalayda to pay more than $200,000 in civil penalties and consumer restitution.
The judge's decision in March came after Shalayda, who's not registered to work in Columbus, failed to appear in court to answer an Ohio attorney general lawsuit that his company performed shoddy work, accepted substantial down payments and failed to provide services. The ruling also prevents Shalayda from working in Ohio until the money has been paid, according to an AG spokeswoman.
A judge ordered Shalayda to pay one victim, Jennifer Roberts of Commercial Point, $29,000 in restitution after she hired him to build a fence and remodel her basement. "Their shoddy workmanship actually caused more damage to my home," Roberts says.
Court officials say Shalayda can't be found and he's made no payments on the civil penalties or consumer restitution. Angie's List Magazine's attempts to reach him also failed.
— by Jackie Norris