A Scottsdale couple finally received some good news in a story that has become a perfect example of why you should only hire a licensed contractor when doing any kind of construction work on your property. The story, originally reported by 3TV, covers the struggle of Brandon and Amanda Copeland as they try to reclaim money from a contractor who they said took their money but never did the work. Thankfully, two years later, a judge is demanding that contractor, Ray Bratton of Bratton Construction, to pay restitution.
In 2017, the Copelands hired Bratton Construction to complete a $90,000 remodeling job. However, after paying Bratton $37,000 to get started, the Copelands say he left them with a mess. “As soon as we gave him a check he did some demo work, ripped out our doors and windows, did some fit and finish, said he needed more money and then disappeared,” said Brandon. With nowhere else to turn, the Copelands were forced to hire another company to finish the job.
Unfortunately for the Copelands, Bratton was also working on their home while his company’s license was suspended by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. This meant that the Copelands were ineligible to seek reimbursement from the agency’s Recovery Fund, which could have given them up to $30,000 of the money lost. As Brandon Copeland sees it, Bratton “got out really on a technicality.”
But now, in a new update, the Copelands are finally receiving some closure as a recent court order is ordering Ray Bratton to pay them back the $30,000 they would have received if he had been properly licensed. The judge handling the case also ruled that Bratton’s license will remain suspended until he completes the payment. Luckily for the Copelands, they will be recovering some of the money they lost, but this story serves as a great reminds as to why you should also work with a properly licensed contractor because you may not be as fortunate.
A Final Note
When something like this happens, a customer has two methods of recourse against a contractor available to them: appealing to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors or ligation. The ROC should be the customer’s first resource, but this is only applicable if the contractor is licensed and in good standing. If the licensee has any restrictions like in the story above, the ROC will not provide recourse. Why? It is illegal to hire an unlicensed contractor. If a customer does, all remedies, repairs, etc. are at the customer’s expense. In this case, the only recourse is litigious (hiring an attorney) and hoping they will be able to find the contractor and get a judgment. Most of the time, in such situations, the contractor will disappear and “close up shop,” allowing no means of regaining any funds lost.
This story is an example of a customer who “got lucky.” Don’t gamble, hire a licensed contractor. Ask the contractor at the first meeting for their license number. A good contractor will not hesitate. Then go online to Arizona Registrar of Contractors and look up the licensee standing with the registrar.
You can read the original story at azfamily.com.