Waimanalo family learns hard way about hiring right contractor

A Waimanalo family is learning the hard way when it comes to hiring the right contractor to do work on their home. And the state says what happened to the Willis family happens all too often elsewhere.

In 2015, Jeremy Willis and his wife hired a contractor to build a second story on top of their existing Waimanalo home. The hope was to have Jeremy’s in-laws move in with them.

But the project quickly went south.

“Actually, when he started the pouring and putting on the beams from the foundation, it just didn’t look centered,” Willis said. “It looked off to the side. It looked below the ground. The water just goes right into the yard, actually.”

So he started asking questions of the contractor and was told there was nothing to worry about. But the problems only got worse, and more than a year and a half later, the project still isn’t finished.

“There’s no railings, so you could just fall over up at the top,” he said.

After numerous phone calls and messages that weren’t returned, Willis says the contractor suddenly stopped showing up back in August. He says the family paid the contractor more than $300,000.

Daria Loy-Goto, who is the Complaints and Enforcement Officer for the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, says many of the complaints her office handles has to do with unlicensed contractors soliciting work.

“The hardest calls that we take are the calls from people who didn’t know to check licensing beforehand and have already paid 5, 10, 15 thousand dollars, and either the work hasn’t been done, or the work is of such poor quality that the homeowner already knows it’s going to cost them much more to get it done right,” she said.

If you’re looking to hire someone to do work on your home, ask for their name and company name, and check to make sure they are registered, licensed, and insured in the state of Hawaii.

You should also check to see if the person or company has a complaint history by visiting the DCCA’s website:

The state also says never pay 100 percent up front before the work is completed.

If you have a consumer concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or send an email to actionline@khon2.com.

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