N4T Investigators: Contracting Trouble
Written By Matthew Schwart, News 4 Tucson
Tucson - Jon Lee paid a contractor named Robert Matthew Cross almost $13,000 to do remodeling work in his midtown home. It was major work involving, among other things, a bathroom, plumbing, electrical, and installing a new door. Lee says, "I cannot tell you how horrible an experience it was working with this guy. It's probably the worst experience I've ever had."
Lee described the quality of Cross' work as "terrible." He said Cross put in "Sheetrock that wasn't [real] sheetrock," and painting that was painted wrong. He did plumbing, which there was leaking. He put a door on backward, he put a sink on backward. He did the plumbing wrong and it leaked out and it rotted my entire bathroom cabinet."
Lee says he met Cross when they played tennis together at the Tucson Racquet Club. We asked Lee, "Did Robert Cross tell you he had a contractor's license?" Lee said, "Yes, he did." We asked, "You're positive?" :"Yes, I am," Lee said.
However, the work at Lee's home, according to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, was done by an unlicensed contractor. In response to questions from the News 4 Tucson Investigators, AZROC's Chief Communications Officer, James Knupp, emailed this statement:
"Robert Matthew Cross is not a licensed contractor nor has he ever held a ROC license. In addition, Agency records show no record of him being an applicant for licensure."
Contractors licenses are required in Arizona for any job of $1000 or more, or for work that needs building permits. The Registrar of Contractors investigated Lee's complaints and found enough evidence to forward them to Pima County Attorney Barbara La Wall. Her office charged Cross with "engaging in contracting without a license" and "advertising as a contractor." At a case management conference yesterday in Pima County Consolidated Justice Court, Assistant County Attorney Lacee Collins requested that Cross not be allowed to go to the Tucson Racquet Club or have any contact with Jon Lee while the case is pending. Judge Susan Bacal granted that request.
Cross' attorney, Frank Anjakos, declined our request for an interview, saying he needs to review the case documents. We went to Robert Cross' home. No one answered the door; we left our card requesting that he call us and he has not.
Susann Miller of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona says of the issue of unlicensed contractors, "It's a problem. Even if it's one person it's a problem but we're hearing about it quite a bit."
Before you hire a contractor, the first thing you should do is check on the Registrar of Contractors website to see If the person you're considering is licensed.
Also, Miller says, "You want to make sure you look at their track record. Get testimonials, referrals. Most importantly, look up their ratings, their complaints, their reviews.
Now, Jon Lee says he learned from this ordeal that, "You really need to do your research."
Lee wants his money back from Robert Cross. He says he had to hire a licensed contractor to fix Cross' mistakes and that's going to cost him at least another $5000. The case has been continued until next month.
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