LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Complaints made against a general contractor operating in Louisville have now made it to the desk of the Attorney General.
The complaints revolve around work not being completed, and the quality of the work that is. Some who’ve complained to the Better Business Bureau say G&S General Contracting has cost them thousands of dollars.
When WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters started taking a look, we realized this would end up being a follow-up story to one we did 15 years ago. It was the same contractor who is still in business.
How can that be?
WAVE 3 News discovered the law, or lack thereof, may be to blame. Kentucky does not require licenses for general contractors. WAVE 3 News learned the City of Louisville does, but it told us their hands are tied because right now they can’t investigate consumer complaints, such as those made recently by two women, Lisa Casey and Emma Jean Thomas.
“I just paid him,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know.”
Added Casey: “Mostly I’m angry because of all the money we lost.”
They were both charged about $30,000, and they are both angry at Greg Dunn Sr., the owner of G&S General Contracting LLC.
WAVE 3 News found Dunn is no stranger to complaints or to being filmed by our cameras.
Casey hired Dunn last year to build an addition. It was supposed to be a special project. Her son’s ashes are on the property.
“I mean this is not the worst thing has happened to us, obviously,” she said as she wiped away tears. “But, it’s just been really stressful.”
When WAVE 3 News visited Dunn at his office, he said he has been working with Casey to get the work done, but as of this writing, the addition is still not done.
Casey said the work didn’t start for months, and when it did, there were issues, like a bowed support beam used for the roof.
“It’s bowed out probably, at least six inches,” Billy Casey said.
Casey said Dunn started asking for more money than what was required up front.
“How can he not have the money; we just gave him $20,000,” she said.
When she’d call, she says she got one excuse after another, from his main worker having to have back surgery, to having broken ribs.
“He said he had to pay the hospital for them to let him out,” Casey said.
That’s similar to what Emma Jean Thomas said, too.
"The most thing that he said was that he was going on vacation,” Thomas said.
Thomas’s case is part of what the Attorney General’s office is now looking at. Thomas, 81, works two jobs.
“I paid him because he was so nice, so polite,” she said.
Thomas hired Dunn after a fire and said it took months for the work to start.
Once it did, she started having problems. She showed WAVE 3 News pictures of how she said Dunn left her home with unfinished floors. She said he replaced her undamaged kitchen cabinets with ones with paneling on the back.
She also shared a picture of a broken faucet that she said Dunn installed in her bathroom, and stains on her closet doors, which he painted.
“I get fed up because he didn’t have to, he didn’t have to do that,” Thomas cried. “He didn’t have to do my house like this.”
Thomas said family and friends have been helping her fix Dunn’s work.
WAVE 3 News visited Dunn’s office, but he wasn’t there. A phone call to his office prompted the following exchange:
“Who are you with?” he asked.
“WAVE 3 News,” we said.
“It’s a local news station. We did a story about you about 15 years ago, do you remember?”
“No,” Dunn said.
But, we had done a story in 2004 after receiving complaints about his work. At that time, he said he was no longer working with the business. He later showed up to give a homeowner a bid.
“I just worked a couple of days ago,” he said back then. “I ain’t even working.”
In that story, WAVE 3 News reported Dunn was associated with several business names. When WAVE 3 News called the Better Business Bureau, the consumer agency said it was familiar with Dunn.
BBB Chief Operating Officer Bruce Gadansky said the his office has now gone to the attorney general.
“It’s kind of frustrating that they keep coming back, but we keep tracking them,” he said.
The big problem is state law.
The Kentucky’s Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction, which is under the Protection Cabinet, doesn’t require a license for general contractors.
“In Kentucky, it’s HVAC, electricity and plumbing,” Gadansky listed. “That’s it.”
The City of Louisville requires a license, but it can only regulate for workers’ compensation and liability insurance, not for consumer complaints. Even when a license is issued, it’s attached to the company’s name, not the individual.
So, new business name, new license.
Speaking for himself, Gadansky said he agrees; the state should have stricter rules.
“Yes, I absolutely think this should be a requirement,” Gadansky said. “At the state level, there’s no test to pass, there’s no higher order overseeing you, looking over your shoulder saying ‘Are you doing this right?’”
He said that unregulated contractors can give the reputable ones a bad name. In the meantime, both women just want to warn others.
“I don’t even want to be doing this interview,” Casey said. “It just makes me sad.”
Added Thomas: “I’m up a creek without a paddle. For real.”
Dunn said he did not want to talk on camera when WAVE 3 News visited his office, but he did remember later the 2004 story that we did about him.
Still, he stood by his work, adding that he under-charged Casey and Thomas. He said he never stopped talking to Casey and tried to finish the job.
If you’re planning on getting some work done on your home, what can you do?
For one, contact the Better Business Bureau. Gadansky said the bureau even takes a look at your contract for any red flags. It can also see the name of the business owner and make sure there aren’t any other complaints.
He also recommended reading the contract very carefully, paying attention to clauses that would allow the contractor a way out without finishing the job. He said to make sure that whatever promises are made, to have it put in writing as part of the contract. Another red flag is if the contractor at first gives a high estimate for the job and then promises to get the work done for a fraction.
“They’ll tell you, ‘This is $40,000, we need $10,000, that’s all we’ll need,’” Gadansky said. “And then in three weeks they need another $10,000.” That’s when he said the alarms start going off.
He also recommends getting detailed accounting from the contractor showing the work being done and the itemized cost. He said to never give all the money up front.
Follow this link to contact the BBB.
And if you would like to see if a contracting business is licensed in Louisville, even though it only checks for insurance requirements, follow this city link.