INDIANAPOLIS -- A Greenwood homeowner says he's out hundreds of thousands of dollars after a contractor took his money, but didn't do the work promised.
In 2013, Chuck Arvo decided to completely remodel the Greenwood home he shares with his wife. After an Internet search, he hired a contractor – Brent Baer of Visions Design Group.
Arvo says the project started off fine. He says he kept paying and paying, sometimes reluctantly. In all, Arvo says he paid Baer $243,000.
The project was supposed to be finished in October 2013, but it wasn't finished then or months later when, Arvo says, Baer and the workers stopped showing up.
"I kept saying, I'll be patient with you, but when are you going to get my house done?" Arvo said. "I just want my house back. When are you going to get it done?"
Arvo says his bank account is now drained. He had to spend another $200,000 to fix the inferior work and hire another contractor to finish the remodeling job.
"It's very terrible when someone will take your life savings from you," Arvo said. "My wife and I worked so hard."
Arvo filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office, but the agency says they never got a formal response from Brent Baer, and so they closed the complaint.
Now, Arvo has filed a lawsuit against Bear and Visions Design Group alleging breach of contract, home improvement fraud and deceptive consumer sales.
"It's just mind-boggling," Arvo said. "I keep hoping I'm going to wake up from a bad nightmare and I'll just wake up one day."
Call 6 Investigates found just months before Arvo hired Baer in 2013, Bear was charged with check deception for writing a bad check to Menard's. Baer faced yet another check deception charge in another county in 2014.
In both cases, Baer entered diversion programs and the charges were dismissed.
State records show Baer has operated under a slew of different business names over the years. He's also faced several civil lawsuits.
After Baer ignored RTV6's requests for an interview, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney caught up with him outside of court in an unrelated case.
Bear said he's not doing work on people's homes, but he was wearing a sweatshirt that said "Lowe's independent contractor." The company says Bear did one job for Lowe's under the company name Design Furnish and Install.
The Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division gets hundreds of home repair complaints a year, with roofing, chimneys, gutters and home improvement topping the list.
The office has filed half a dozen lawsuits in the last year against home repair companies. Closing a case like Arvo's doesn't always result in a satisfactory conclusion, though.
Arvo says his lawsuit heads to trial in April. He's seeking $750,000 in fees and damages. But, he says, it's not about the money – it's about holding his contractor accountable.
"He intentionally deceived me and took my money," Arvo says.
TIPS FOR HIRING A CONTRACTOR:
- Get estimates in writing
- Check for criminal charges or civil suits here
- Check for a contractor’s license
- Ask for references and call them
- Ask to see examples of their work
- Ask about insurance: personal liability, worker’s comp, and property damage coverage
- Pay wisely, not all up front