8 Investigates

Disabled Goochland veteran says contractor walked off with his $20K deposit

GOOCHLAND, Va. (WRIC) - A disabled veteran claims a contractor charged him $20,000 for a job he never finished.

Gregory Roland lost his leg in an accident about 10 years ago. When he and his wife wanted to make their home more wheelchair accessible, they paid the contractor a deposit to expand their bedroom and bathroom.

The Goochland man admits he changed the plans and added something extra but when both sides couldn't agree on the price, Roland says his contractor walked away with the money.

"He took the money and he hasn't returned and that's criminal. He's a thief," Roland says of contractor Robert Jones.

Jones was the owner of Impact Home Improvements which recently went out of business.

"They have no heart no feeling. They don't care," adds the 69-year-old, "They tell me thank you for your service and take my money. They don't care and it's a shame for people to be that intelligent and have a business and then turn and go and do this."

Roland showed us an email chain with his contractor. In mid-January, Jones promised to refund part of the deposit. "This is not a problem," the email reads, "Will be processed immediately."

It's now mid-April and this former marine still doesn't have his money.

Roland reported what happened to the Goochland Sheriff's Office. Detectives moved forward and the contractor now faces a felony charge for not returning the money. The case goes to court in June.

Jones tells 8News that once police got involved, he opted to let it all play out in court. He insists this is a dispute over the cost of the project and that it belongs in civil court. Jones says he has filed a lawsuit against Roland although 8News was unable to confirm it through court records.

Virginia's Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation oversees contractors. It recommends before hiring one, people do their homework.

First, check references.

If Roland had googled his contractor, he would have discovered negative reviews from dissatisfied customers.

The negative comments weren't just about the work but also about allegations that the company was running out of cash.

Impact Home Improvements is now out of business.

Next get more than one estimate.

Contractors who offer to do the job for a lot less can be considered a little suspect.
That doesn't mean they're not honest, it means you really need to research their background.

Finally, don't write a check until the work is done.

"Don't give anybody any money up front," insists Roland, "If the contractor don't have the money to do the job, then he's not your guy." 

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