A Polk County judge ordered an Appanoose County contractor Wednesday to pay more than $100,000 in restitution following complaints from customers. Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman with the Iowa Attorney General’s office, says Thirty-nine-year-old Jeremey Lawson of Moulton operated Moulton and Bloomfield-based businesses.
“A lot of these complaints have been the same types of complaints — they say Mr. Lawson took money from them, whether it was a substantial payment, or a small payment, and then didn’t complete the work. That’s the majority of the complaints that we’ve heard,” Greenwood says. The Consumer Protection Division investigated some 40 complaints against Lawson.
Greenwood says others reported their project was only partially finished.”Or, he finished a project and it was not a suitable project, the work was substandard, it was not acceptable,” Greenwood says. “So the complaints have been piling up and have risen to the top of our Consumer Protection Division in terms of contractor enforcement.” The restitution was just part of the judgment reached with Lawson.
“It also sets forth some fairly stringent conditions if he continues with contracting or repair work,” according to Greenwood.
Lawson use business names that include Sturdy Buildings, Strong Structures, Lawson Building Components and J&C Buildings. Lawson denied the allegations but agreed to the consent judgment to settle the matter with the Consumer Protection Division.
Greenwood says you can save yourself some hassle by doing some background work before hiring a contractor. “Really important is to check up front on that contractor….do some web searching. You can check with the state Workforce Development labor division to see if they are registered — and they need to be registered,” according to Greenwood. “You can also check court records at Iowa Courts Online to see if there are civil judgments or any kind of criminal convictions against someone.”
He says one good way to find a contractor is to get a recommendation from somebody you know. “Someone you know and trust, someone who has had a good experience with someone. You can also check the references the contractor provides and ask that person ‘where you really satisfied, what did they do, how long did it take, what were the financial arrangements.'”
He says you should ask for a copy of the contractor’s liability insurance certificate, and be wary of a person or company not listed in the local telephone directory.