TEAM 10 INVESTIGATES: Contractor Nightmare Series
Summertime is when individuals dip into their hard-earned financial savings to transform their residence or make much-needed repairs. This week, Team 10 investigates residence enchancment horror tales about San Diegans ripped off by contractors — together with one household that misplaced over a half million dollars.
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Poway man is underneath investigation after a number of of his clients claimed they gave him hundreds of dollars for house renovations and received shoddy, incomplete work.
The householders at the moment are banding collectively and dealing with regulation enforcement and the Contractors State License Board within the hope of recouping their losses and stopping the unlicensed contractor from profiting from different individuals.
One of his clients was a lady who requested us to not use her final identify. Debbie stated a neighbor advisable Norm Keating when she talked about she was on the lookout for somebody to assist her restore some leaky taps in a toilet and exchange a window.
Little did she know that suggestion would result in a serious house transforming challenge.
Debbie advised Team 10 her mom had simply died and left her some cash. She needed to make use of a few of that cash to improve her residence. She stated Keating was joyful to oblige.
“He was a really nice guy,” she recalled. “I thought he was a contractor at first. I had no idea he’s not a contractor,” Debbie stated.
At Keating’s urging, Debbie says she launched into a serious transforming venture. Walls got here down, and staff started placing up new partitions to create a downstairs powder room. New flooring was put in, and the kitchen began to form up. Debbie was excited concerning the wine fridge, the indoor grill and the opposite new home equipment she stated Keating promised.
Debbie’s yard additionally become a development zone. A second-story deck started taking form, together with a stairway and personal entrance.
The work went slowly. Keating introduced in a number of staff, and Debbie stated she stored writing checks for labor and supplies. As the months dragged on together with her residence underneath development, Debbie started having doubts. She stated Keating all the time had the appropriate phrases to set her thoughts comfy.
Finally, Debbie determined she’d had sufficient.
She requested Keating why the entrance door she paid $2,000 for by no means confirmed up. Where have been the three ceiling followers she paid for? Debbie demanded solutions however stated she obtained excuses. “It was always next week, next week,” she recalled.
When the climate warmed up, Debbie came upon her air conditioner not labored. That was when she discovered the duct work wasn’t put in appropriately. A repairman advised her it might value $three,500 to repair it.
She additionally found 910 sq. ft of insulation in her attic had mysteriously disappeared. That’s when Debbie began taking a better take a look at the workmanship and supplies utilized in her residence.
The new stonework on her hearth coated the opening the place the fuel key that turns it on is meant to be, rendering the fireside ineffective. The chrome steel hood vent within the kitchen had a burned out engine, and the wine fridge and new range did not work. Debbie now believes the home equipment have been second hand.
She wrote a requirement letter to Keating giving him 90 days to ship $40,000 of supplies she claims she already paid for. Debbie continues to be ready. In the meantime, she’s needed to rent new contractors to start correcting the injury achieved to her residence.
“I was at the most vulnerable state ever in my life, and he saw that and he really just took advantage,” Debbie stated as she fought again tears.
Jenny & Bill
Jenny Erdmann and her fiance’, Bill Yoder purchased a fixer-upper in Poway they hoped to show into a house. Erdmann’s realtor advised her about Norm Keating.
Erdmann stated Keating admitted he wasn’t a contractor however stated he might save the couple hundreds of dollars by working as their challenge supervisor. They took the bait.
Most of the work they hoped to do was beauty, however Erdman stated Keating had greater concepts: “He wanted to rip down every wall and relocate some of the bedrooms, move the kitchen entirely, move the bathrooms…Quite honestly, we went home that night, and I was like, that’s not the house we bought. But it sounded good,” recalled Erdmann. “We thought he’s the expert, and all these other people are happy with him.”
In lower than every week the home was stripped right down to the studs. That’s when Erdmann stated the venture slowed down. “It was like pulling teeth to get him to do anything,” she stated, including, “but he always needed money.”
Erdmann confirmed us $77,000 value of checks she wrote to Keating. $58,000 of that quantity was for supplies and labor; the remaining was for Keating’s providers. The drawback, in accordance with Erdmann was that most of the supplies by no means confirmed up on the property. “These were expensive things like hot water heaters, HVAC systems, all the big-ticket items,” stated Erdmann.
Keating cashed the checks.
Erdmann informed Keating she needed him to ship the supplies she paid for and says she advised him from that time on she would write checks on to distributors.
Erdmann turned suspicious of Keating. She Googled his identify and found he was an ex-con who did time in a California jail for grand theft, fraud, and different fees. She additionally discovered a number of convictions in Florida for writing dangerous checks, forgery and extra. “As soon as I saw the swindling and all the other stuff he’s been doing in the past, I thought, yep, we just lost everything,” Erdmann stated, shrugging her shoulders.
She and her fiancé determined to chop their monetary and emotional losses. They bought the now-gutted home for a loss. Erdmann figures the couple misplaced a complete of $250,000.
Erdmann additionally determined to trace down different individuals who’d had contact with Keating. She claims they have been straightforward to seek out and never one among them was glad together with his work.
Maya and her household have been shifting to Poway from Boston. The home she present in Poway was small and wanted some updating. She employed Keating after studying he’d completed some work for her realtor.
She advised Team 10 his worth was figured into her mortgage. As her household drove cross nation, Keating’s group set to work.
The pregnant mom of 4 confirmed Team 10 a number of the issues with that work. Her new fence is 18 inches inside her property line, and there is a hole alongside the underside so huge that a small youngster or animal might simply scoot beneath it.
Inside her storage, the place she stated Keating prompt the washer and dryer be relocated, uncovered drywall was peeling and a piece of the firewall was lacking. Maya informed us the home equipment weren’t put in correctly, and the water heater didn’t have an earthquake strap.
Inside, Mayasaid two bogs had to get replaced, and there was a leak beneath the kitchen sink due to defective set up. The hearth over her mantel is lacking, as are some closet doorways.
Brian Kitlinger met Norm Keating in a jail chapel. The two turned greatest buddies and stayed that method after every was completed serving his time period. Kitlinger was a companion in Keating’s advertising agency, Excellence Companies.
Their friendship started to unravel after Keating provided to assist his pal rework his childhood house in Chula Vista. Kitlinger and his spouse, Cynthia, needed to improve and enlarge the home, including trendy finishes. They employed Keating as their property supervisor. A notation on the contract written in block letters learn NO LICENSE REQUIRED.
The Kitlingers shared footage with Team 10 of Keating working a bobcat, as staff demolished a lot of the home.
The home was by no means rebuilt.
The Kitlingers claim they paid tens of hundreds of dollars to Keating however not often noticed anybody engaged on the property. As their frustrations grew, so did the worth of the challenge, and Brian’s friendship with Keating was examined.
Late final yr, the Kitlingers say Keating stopped working at their home altogether. They later discovered the $three,800 verify they wrote to the City of Chula Vista for constructing permits by no means made it to the town.
Brian Kitlinger says he has proof it was deposited into Keating’s account.
“I don’t think that he knew what he was doing,” stated Kitlinger. ” I feel he might have gotten in over his head and ran as an alternative of dealing with us and saying I do not know what is going on on; I can not do that. earlier than it obtained too massive and too late that it will probably’t be salvaged.
The couple claims a licensed contractor advised them it will value greater than $600,000 to construct their dream house. The Kitlingers are contemplating chapter.
“We’re just about heartbroken and lowered to break,” stated Cynthia Kitlinger.
When Team 10 contacted Keating by telephone, he stated he needed to inform his aspect of the story. He stated he had proof the householders aren’t telling the reality and stated he needed to point out it to us. We arrange an appointment for an on-camera interview. He canceled it, saying his spouse had a physician’s appointment.
Several occasions, by telephone, e mail and textual content message we requested him to take a seat down with us.
He did not reply.
Keating did inform us over the telephone “I am not a development man, I am a glorified shopper and accountant.” He stated he by no means labored on any of the homes, simply helped the householders by getting good offers on supplies.
“They’re not paying me to go in there and play contractor,” he stated.
Keating described himself as a “good man” who tried to assist all of the householders who now name themselves victims. He claims most of them did not pay him the cash he is due. Keating defined the householders have been appearing as contractors. He stated he was employed by them and the employees have been additionally staff of the householders.
Invoices from Jenny Erdmann’s job appear to point in any other case. They listing a number of staff by identify, the hours labored, and the cash owed. Erdman has canceled checks written to Norm Keating to cowl each labor and supplies. The different householders additionally stated they paid the employees by means of Keating.
The Contractors State License Board
A spokesman for the Contractors State License Board confirmed there are a number of complaints about Keating. An investigation is underway.
Rick Lopes informed us “undertaking supervisor” and “common contractor are just about the identical. “The law defines what a contractor is and one of the things it says is its someone who can oversee or supervise a project. A project manager oversees or supervises a project.,” defined Lopes.
Under California regulation, all development work over $500 in labor and supplies required a licensed contractor.
There are 280,000 of them in California. Norm Keating shouldn’t be one in every of them.