‘I feel like he took the money and ran’: Contractor accused of taking big deposits, not doing work

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s the classic contractor trap in Florida. You’ve paid a big deposit but the work is never started.

Hurricane season is here so Steven Rivera hired Storm Restoration Services in Altamonte Springs to replace his leaky roof and prevent more damage.

“He said, ‘Oh it’s going to take me like two to three weeks to get the materials and we’ll get the job done in one day,’” Rivera said.

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His insurance approved the job and he paid Storm Restoration in Altamonte a $6,000 deposit in March. Months later, he still doesn’t have a new roof and has tried repeatedly to get hold of the company.

“Nothing, no answer, no replies, no nothing. I feel like he took the money and ran,” Rivera said.

In Florida, a contractor has 30 days to apply for a permit after getting a deposit that covers at least 10% of the job.

It’s been four months since Rivera paid Storm Restoration in Altamonte Springs.

Action 9 checked and couldn’t find any permits for Rivera’s home in Polk County. He contacted the sheriff’s office, but was told it was a civil matter.

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“But that’s a little far-fetched to me that you can just hold someone’s money hostage and disappear,” Rivera said.

Storm Restoration Services in Altamonte Springs has an F rating at the Better Business Bureau because the company doesn’t respond to complaints. Other homeowners also claim they gave big deposits for roofs they never got.

Todd Ulrich went to Storm Restoration’s office in Altamonte Springs. The door was locked and Ulrich didn’t find any employees. Ulrich called the company and he heard an automated voice that simply said, ‘Good-bye.’

Homeowners should protect their money up front. They should avoid any deposit if possible, include a work deadline in the contract and not use cash. Credit card deposits offer better protection.

“Give me back the money so I can get someone to do the job ASAP because I can’t keep holding on like this,” Rivera said.

If a contractor doesn’t apply for permits in time, you’re owed that deposit back. Contact Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, so they can take action against their license.

Managing partner Ty Hillman told Action 9 after the story originally aired that many roof installations have been delayed by shingle shortages. This customer did not want to change colors so that caused big delays.

Hillman also said company staff worked at home so there had been communication issues, but his company is fully operational.

He said there had been management difficulties that have been resolved and his company is not related to a Tampa company with a similar name.

Hillman said Steven Rivera’s new roof will be installed in two weeks and all consumer complaints are being resolved.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.