Attorney General Cuomo Sues Oswego County Garage Builder For Defrauding Central New York Homeowners
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (May 14, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced that his office has sued an Oswego County garage builder who defrauded homeowners in Central New York by failing to start jobs for which he was paid, and performing incomplete or shoddy work for the jobs he began.
The Attorney General’s suit seeks full restitution for consumers defrauded by David F. Bourlier of County Rte. 10 in Pennellville, and his company, Arrowhead Garage Builders. The suit also bans Bourlier from operating in the home improvement business until he posts a $75,000 performance bond and requires him to pay penalties and costs.
“It’s the time of year when Central New York consumers are considering additions or renovations to their properties or businesses,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “There are plenty of reputable contractors who do quality work for fair prices, however there are also those with no professional expertise who are looking only for a fast dollar. In this case homeowners lost their hard-earned money and were left with unfinished projects, and in some instances, damaged homes. My office’s lawsuit seeks to prevent this builder from continuing to take advantage of Central New York and North Country consumers.”
A garage builder and repairer, Bourlier, 53, regularly took advance payments from customers but did not deposit payments into an escrow account, as required by law. He repeatedly failed to start or complete work for which he had been paid – and the work he did perform was often shoddy. For some jobs, Bourlier also failed to obtain the proper building permits, which he agreed to secure in his contracts. Additionally, when consumers obtained small claims court judgments against him, he repeatedly failed to pay.
According to court documents, evidence of Bourlier’s negligence include:
- Signing a contract for $17,700 to construct a garage that he claimed would take approximately four to five weeks to finish. After four months – and after he cashed a $5,900 check – the homeowners expressed concern about the minimal work that was performed and how the property was left in an unsafe condition. Bourlier promised to resume work on the next day but the homeowners never heard from him again.
- Entering into a $14,700 contract with a verbal agreement to begin construction two weeks later, but did not begin until two-and-a-half-months later. When Bourlier claimed he completed the job, a large pool of water remained on the concrete floor, neither the pedestrian nor garage doors closed properly and electrical boxes were left uncovered, posing a safety risk.
- Agreeing to apply and pay for building permits for a job in the Town of Salina, but never doing so. On the day Bourlier’s subcontractors started the consumer’s job, Salina officials called the consumer to say the permits were denied because Bourlier did not pay for the variance. The consumer was forced to apply and pay for the variance himself so the job could be completed.
Bourlier also falsely advertised and misled consumers about his experience, claiming “over 30 years experience” and providing “professional service.” However, the company filed for a business certificate in 2006.
Past customers of Arrowhead Garage Builders who believe they may have been victims of similar actions should contact the Attorney General’s Syracuse Regional Office at 315-448-4848.
When planning to use a home contractor, consumers should consider the following tips:
- Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door
- Determine exactly what you want done, then look for a qualified contractor
- Shop Around; get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided
- Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau; banks; suppliers; and neighbors. Always contact any references provided to you
- Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed
- Do not pay unreasonable advance sums; negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job
- Never pay the full price up front
- Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing
Additional information on how to avoid fraudulent home improvement contractors can be found on the Attorney General’s Website, www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/consumer_frauds/tips/home_improvements.html.
If you have unresolved disputes with a home improvement contractor and are seeking assistance, you may call the Attorney General’s Consumer Help Line at 800-771-7755.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Judith Malkin of the Syracuse Regional Office under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge Ed Thompson of the Syracuse Regional Office, with assistance from Investigator Andrea Burnham and Consumer Fraud Representative Tracy Burt.