NBC33 CONSUMER ALERT: Woman says she's been scammed by man hired to fix her house

POSTED: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 4:10pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 5:35pm

One Baton Rouge woman says a home contractor did half of his job and then, left her house in dangerous condition. RoseMary Heatly's home was damaged during Hurricane Gustav. When she got money from the government to fix her house, she hired contractor, Nolan Lockett. Lockett told Heatly he worked for Lockett Construction Inc.

She wanted him to add a roof over her screened in porch, add a few tiles, and do some electrical work. She says she paid him over $9,000. On May 8th, Heatly says Lockett stopped working on her home, but it was nowhere near finished.

City inspectors were at her home today and they can vouch for that. "There are quite a few violations that do need to be addressed and corrected before it can be considered an occupiable room," says city building inspector Charles Joffrion.

They say Lockett left electrical wires exposed to the elements, built the roof around the rain gutters, and left a gas meter inside her house, exposing her to dangerous gases for several weeks. "That's probably the most dangerous thing I've seen here," says plumbing inspector, Craig Blanchard.

Recently, Heatly says Lockett hand-delivered a note demanding that she pay for the rest of the work he did. The letter claimed that he was finished with the job. The letter also threatened to place a lean on Heatly's home if she didn't pay.

Heatly says Lockett either needs to finish the job or give her money  back.

After calling several times today, we were able to get in touch with Nolan Lockett. He says is out of state at a conference. Lockett claims that he was not contracted to do all of the work that Heatly says he was supposed to do. He says he was not hired as a contractor.

He believes it was Heatly's responsibility to get a permit on the home. Lockett says Heatly's claims are completely false and that he did the work he was supposed to do. He wants her to pay him the $900 he believes he is still owed.

Lockett also says some of the problems the inspector's found today were already there when he started doing his work on Heatly's home.

The Louisiana Attorney General's office says there have been two complaints against Nolan Lockett since 2006.

Inspectors say they see this kind of trouble all the time, but there are ways to avoid it.

Homeowners need to get permits anytime they plan to renovate or add-on to their homes. Inspectors say a certified contractor should know this. Always get a copy of the permit from the contractor before you pay for the job. That permit belongs to the homeowner.

"Check to see if a contractor is licensed, if he's bonded, and if he's up to date on those items. we urge people to do that. that's your best protection," says Joffrion.

You can check to see if a contractor is licensed by calling 225 389 3205 or by checking here. You can also check out the city inspection website.

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