Some homeowners say Choice Construction came knocking after strong storms hit their neighborhoods. “They were asking if I had any roof damage from the storm. I told him yes, I have a roof leak.”
George Sokolinski hired Choice Construction to replace his roof. He filed a claim with his insurer then signed a contract and gave the contractor a $6100 check in mid March. “They told me they needed to have their money up front and in advance.”
George says no one from Choice Construction ever returned to start work. He's got some company.
“I have had knots in my stomach and I can't sleep very well.” Edward Sulek is one of 5 Choice Construction customers whose contracts I read. Their documents indicate each gave the company thousands of dollars in the last 2 to 4 moths. Ed and the others claim they’ve tried calling the company but no one ever returned to do any work. “They said they needed more money additional work had to be done.”
I caught up with Choice Construction's owner Sam Rife as he was moving out of his Tarpon Springs office. “I am closing my business office at this location,” he said.
During our conversation, Rife repeatedly blamed his client's homeowners insurance for the delays involving the jobs. “I will be glad to show you the paperwork where we have called the insurance companies and we are trying to get them to supplement the project.”
By supplement, Rife means he needs more money. He claims the insurance companies are not paying out enough for the work to be done properly. “I can't start the job unless the scope is approved by the insurance company.”
I tried to confirm Rife's story with two insurance companies and have not heard back.
But Ed Sulek, who says he's already given Choice Construction more than $7,000, showed me his insurer sent an additional $1600 dollars -- money he is not willing to turn over until Choice starts work on his roof. “I said 'You are not getting any more money' until the roof is done.”
I contacted the Pasco Sheriff's Economic Crimes Unit about the complaints against Choice Construction. “My suspicions are certainly raised,” said detective Bruce Cohen, who opened an investigation. “Anyone that has information or has had dealings with this company I would like them to contact us right away.”
After our conversation, Sam Rife refunded more than $4,000 to George Sokolinski and put it in writing he would return the rest by the end of June. But Ed Sulek and others claim they are still waiting. “He just said you sign the check over and that is how I thought it was suppose to work.”
The Sheriff’s Office has also notified Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
If you are looking to have any work done on your home, consumer protection experts say there are some things you need to do before hand. Check the contractor's license for any complaints or disciplinary action with both the county and state and never pay for the majority of the job's cost up front.
To research your contractor, visit these websites:
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