A Contractor I Would Not Recommend

18 Replies

As RE developers we all know how important it is to hire good, reliable residential contractors. Because we are dependant, for the most part, on word of mouth recommendations it is vital that our recommendations are valid. This is true for me anyway. I am still living in the past, where your word is your reputation and your reputation is your character. Therefore, I want to let the community here know about a residential contractor I would never recommend.

Let me start by saying I did my homework...checked him out thoroughly. Handy Pro Connection, LLC (Cyrus Gordon) came to me via a recommendation. The company is based out of Sicklerville, NJ but also works in Philadelphia, where he was born and raised. I checked the Better Business Bureau for complaints, I checked the NJ State Attorney General consumer division to ensure he was licensed, I checked every reference he gave by visiting sites and speaking with the homeowners. All good, he got the job and started on May, 10, 2018.

To make a long story short. On Thursday, July 12 my contractor stopped communicating with me. Now, we are 11 weeks into an 8 week job and he has abandoned the job with 75% of the money and only 50% of the work done. HOW Did That Happen? A week into the job he was still demoing an 1100 square foot row home in Philly. This was not a complete rehab, we were keeping the main bath, moulding, and original dooors. New windows, kitchen, basement bath and adding a storage room/pantry in the basement. At that point my project manager (and partner) started pushing him. He made promises and progress, albeit, slowly. June rolls in and the work was still not where we needed it to be. At that time we started looking for a new contractor. But this is Philly and contractors are hard to come by. We found two contractors and the bid we received to finish the work were higher than the bid we contracted to complete the entire rehab! So, we felt we had no choice but to stick with this guy.

Move on to the end of June. Progress is still not acceptable. I had a heart-to-heart with the contractor and made it clear what our expectations were and no more money (he was asking for a second payment of a three payment contract) would come his way. He claimed if he didn't get the money he could not buy supplies to complete the job, which would be done in a week(I knew this wasn't true). I was going on vacation, so I arranged for my partner to give him half the second payment for supplies only. When I returned from vacation I learned my partner gave him the full second payment! I immediately went to the project and took the contractor to the store to buy all of our supplies. Two days later my partner went to the house, no supplies, no workers. Our countertop people are there looking for their payment.

Cyrus Gordon, made promises he did not keep. He took money and spent it on God knows what. He abandoned the job. Most of the work he has done so far needs to be redone. Some of the materials we choose and asked him to pick up (such as flooring) he replaced with low quality materials, I assume to keep more of our money for himself. I have filled a complaint against him with the Better Business Bureau and the NJ State Attorney General. I have also filed a claim against his insurance company with hope of getting at least our monies from the contract back.

Please beware if you run into Handy Pro Connection, LLC. This guy is a liar, a cheat...very untrustworthy.

I had similar issue with my general contractor (Amit Shah of Rothwell Builders in Englewood, NJ) when we were building our house about 7 years ago.  It was supposed to be 4 months job for complete construction.  He had nice MS Project plan with dependencies defined.  Every time he wants money, he would start some work and then say in coming week this is what we would have due because need to give $ to his this sub and that sub.  Whole thing went downhill when I decided to go away for vacation during the project and he took large payment from us and then on it was constantly falling back.  Ultimately I realized (rather my dad shed light on it) that he has repeat pattern and tried to corner him and his subs separately and found out he wasn’t paying his subs and that was the reason for hold up.  Fortunately, I was in touch with all subs so  we changed where I took control of paying subs directly and paying In his presence and ultimately taking over general contracting and telling subs to finish the job and wait for payment till I get my draws from bank (blame it on bank).  Ultimately project was completed In 12 months.  This experience soured me to the point where I invested only with my friend who acts as my GC or partner on different deals.  Once I have achieved financial independence, I would probably be my own GC on my own investments.

unfortunately i had similar issues with contractors so i secided to do my whole house almost 0 experience on my own. Not only did i save about $80k i also learned lot of new things. If i had any questions i would call my architect and ask for advice or look online. Only time i had trouble is when i called in subs for electric or hvac trying to screw me. 

@Paulette Midgette I went through 4 general contractors last year to find an additional one to add.  I have found the same difficulties that you have found.  I also trust on peoples word, but have found that the real issue is not their desire to complete the work but their inability to budget and manage cash flow.  I feel that these guys are falling behind because they are underbudgetting and do not have the accounting to support them to realize that they are not making money.  They are only looking at the cash they have in their account.    

I am sorry to hear that so many of you have had similar experiences to mine with contractors.  I believe in Karma and I know that their behavior will not go unchecked!

@Wayne Brooks , you are incorrect in your statement, at least in my case.  Have you had a similar experience and filed a claim?

Originally posted by @Paulette Midgette :

I am sorry to hear that so many of you have had similar experiences to mine with contractors.  I believe in Karma and I know that their behavior will not go unchecked!

@Wayne Brooks , you are incorrect in your statement, at least in my case.  Have you had a similar experience and filed a claim?

You are right in that they can be punished. Dont rely on just Karma though, report them. This can be a criminal offense if enough money has changed hands. I am rebuilding a gazebo for a lady that she has already paid out 11k for and it doesnt even have the deck on. He will face charges. 

@Mike Reynolds ,  I have filed complaints with the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Better Business Bureaus.  I understand these Agency cannot get the money lost back, but at least they will archive the complaint for others to view.  I have also fled with both State Attorney General's.  Lastly, I filed a claim against his insurance company.  Prior to doing this, I called the insurance to determine if I had a case to file and if my situation was covered under his policy and sure enough it is.

Thanks for the advice Mike!  I hope when others find themselves in these situations that they will take action as well.

The #1 rule in handling contractors: NEVER PAY CONTRACTORS FOR WORK NOT ALREADY DONE. Even your most honorable contractor runs the risk of becoming crooked when you pay him/her for work not done. He should have had 50% of the Money for 75%of the work done. Not the other way around.

@Paulette Midgette I am a contractor.  General Liability covers damages caused by the contractor, either to a property, piece of of equipment or to a person caused by negligence.  Worker’s Compensation obviously covers injuries to a worker.  Auto insurance covers auto related liabilities.  

None of these cover Contractual Obligations and I know of no contractor’s insurance that cover that.  If you had a Performance Bond from the contractor then that would cover the contractor’s obligations. Criminal charges may be appropriate and you could possibly get a court judgment if you sued, but that has nothing to do with insurance.

Im beginning to see similar behavior from my contractor - wants more upfront, I've called out a few "obviously shoddy" things and started to get the "well that's a change from the contract - I don't think so.

I've got a few recommendations from Home Depot - one guy in fact that has done a couple previous jobs for me (one complete rehab of a unit, then a smaller fix-up job, and I've got him on a two unit rehab right now. Im starting to see that he isn't managing his business worth a darn, is obviously understaffed and overloaded at the moment, and is taking a few serious shortcuts that I simply wont tolerate. We had a blowup yesterday when I called him out on unfinished work that's supposed to be turned over to my painters in two days! In his mind its done, but when things are obviously missing (like trim, insulation, even sections of floor) and he feels that's complete... yeah, Im starting to have a little agida! 

His frustration is now "Im done with you (meaning me) after this project is complete".... methinks this might be a two-way street assuming we part mutually adn the job is completed.

Not going to name andy names yet as it hopefully will rectify itself, but I will post pictures, and all supporting materials for the world to see if it doesn't.

@Matt Avila , thank you for your feedback.  I look forward to reading your updates and seeing your pictures.

@Wayne Brooks , I am capable of understanding insurance policy's and what is covered and what is not.  I don't need a lesson on worker's compensation or auto insurance especially when they have nothing to do with what I am talking about.  Again, I have filed a valid claim and it is working its way through the process.  Unless you are aware of what type of policy my contractor has and you can give me some insights, suggestions about that, I don't need a statement of things I already know.

Originally posted by @Jonathan Herron :

@Paulette Midgette I'm very sorry to hear that you had this experience.   From what you describe he might be in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.    I am not licensed in PA but they may/probably have a similar statute.  

 In great state of NJ, they have excluded new construction from CFA; home Improvement is covered but new construction is not!  Talk about efficient lobbyists!