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Beware of unlicensed contractors when looking for someone to work on your home

Posted at 6:36 AM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-14 17:25:47-05

ANTHEM — The summer monsoon is here, and state leaders are reminding homeowners to only hire licensed contractors to do any kind of house repairs and work.

As a general rule, if you're getting work done that's more than $1,000 or it's a project that requires a permit for electrical work or plumbing, then you have to get a licensed contractor.

Kerrie Mays recently moved to Anthem from California. Last year, she reached out to a local contractor to get landscaping work done.

"I wanted green, I wanted color," she said. "I wanted the hardscape cleared out and I wanted some grass and some color...make it more livable."

Mays agreed to pay $10,000 for work to remove her hardscape and add new landscape around her home. But instead, she says her yard was a mess. She said the workers left an unleveled backyard, flooding and dead plants everywhere.

"The sprinklers were sticking out of the yard, piping was showing, the side of the yard had cement chunks all down the side. It was pretty bad. I was pretty stressed," said Mays.

Mays paid a $5,000 deposit but refused to pay the rest when the contractor said he wouldn't fix the mess.

"He looked right at me and said, 'There's nothing wrong with what I've done,'" she said.

That's when the Arizona Registrar of Contractors got involved. The state agency investigated her case and sent it to a local prosecutor.

The contractor was 40-year-old David Sean Carman with DBA Gringos Landscaping. He was found guilty of contracting without a license, a misdemeanor. Records say he'd been warned before.

Mays says she had no idea.

The AZ ROC licenses about 40,000 contracting businesses in the state. Leaders say before you hire someone, check with the ROC to make sure they're licensed.

"It's the only chance they'll have any sort of recourse should there be something wrong going on," said Jeff Fleetham, Director of AZ ROC.

Now that we have the threat of monsoon storms, Fleetham says many homeowners may need urgent repair work. But it's always better to wait and do your research.

"You're going to have a lot of damage. Good contractors are going to be busy, they can't just stop and show up to your house tomorrow,' said Fleetham.

"My yard was not usable from the time he touched it for at least a year," said Mays.

Mays says she learned the hard way and hopes others won't make the same mistake.

"It's not worth the trouble. I can't take back the time and stress that it caused me," she said.

The credit card company reversed the $5,000 charge Mays paid the contractor.

Learn more about the AZ ROC or search for a licensed contractor here.