‘Take your money and they don’t deliver’: Consumers say unlicensed contractor walked off jobs

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several central Florida consumers claim a dock builder took big deposits, never finished the jobs and got away with it.

“Did you ever expect to be standing here today with that behind you?” Todd Ulrich asked, referring to an unfinished dock.

“Absolutely not,” Jim McAvoy replied.

Months after McAvoy contacted a contractor to rebuild his lakefront dock, it’s far from finished. He says KonaDocks, located in Apopka, and its owner, Brian Hall, have been impossible to deal with.

“(They) take your money and they don’t deliver,” McAvoy said.

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He also claims the company tricked him into paying an additional $10,000 deposit, so the company collected a total of $22,000 upfront.

“And then he stopped working, basically,” McAvoy said.

He says after partial demolition, the company hired a subcontractor who later

walked off the job. McAvoy says all attempts to have KonaDocks finish the project

have failed.

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McAvoy’s dock project is just one of many others that Action 9 first exposed about KonaDocks, where consumers accused the company of taking big deposits and not doing the job.

Lulita Haslip told Action 9 that she lost $3,000 for a dock that was never built.

Nikki Monroe of Longwood said she paid a $13,000 deposit for a boathouse she never got.

In June, KonaDocks owner Brian Hall told Ulrich that both customers would get their money back. That didn’t happen.

“It’s just devastating, financially it’s a real hardship,” Monroe said.

Since then, the Department of Business and Professional Regulations found Hall acted as an unlicensed contractor three times, including on Monroe’s job, and investigators recommended penalties.

McAvoy says the company told him it didn’t need a building permit since his dock was a floating structure.

Orange county officials told him that’s not true.

“So it’s clear that when you have a dock, it needs a permit,” McAvoy said.

In an email from the county’s Environmental Protection Division, a manager said several KonaDocks projects triggered permit violations and homeowners were fined, but the contractor refused to correct the problem, saying the county has no jurisdiction.

“As many complaints as there’s been out there, I’m surprised nothing has happened yet,” McAvoy said.

Hall denied any wrongdoing. He told Ulrich his floating docks don’t need building permits,

and all clients will get what they are owed.  He sent Ulrich pictures of docks where customers loved the work he did.

“Why can’t they do something to stop people like this?” McAvoy said.

Don’t let any contractor talk you out of building permits. You can verify online if one is required, and that permit can help you make a case for refunds.

Since contacting us, Jim McAvoy says he won a credit card dispute and recovered $12,000.

Orange County’s attorney also urged consumers to file complaints and said KonaDocks is under active review.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.