Mold got the best of Lakersha Jones' shower and she wasn't wasting any time to get it out.
She hired someone to strip it down, and that person referred her to Horta Bros. Contractors to remodel it.
Jones found the company’s website and liked what she saw, specifically the $2 million general liability insurance and the contractor's license number.
She was sold.
"He told me it was going to take two weeks! So I'm like great, two weeks," said Jones.
Jones said the owner, Ulises Horta, said the project would cost $6,500. But he needed some of the money up front and they needed to sign the contract.
He drafted one up on notebook paper and they both signed.
Jones said she paid Horta in three installments and each time she paid, the contractor worked.
"That's when he asked for an additional $500 cause he said he did $500 worth of work," Jones said. "And I'm like, 'okay I'll give you $500 more but that's it.' After that, it was hard to get him back."
She said on several occasions he was a no show and blamed his absence on other projects.
Weeks went by and despite threatening to sue him, she said he wasn’t showing up. Then, she asked for a refund.
He said that he did $4,500 of work and we should call it even.
"This is $4,500 of nothing."
Jones said she was determined to find out if Horta’s company was even legitimate. She spent hours online trying to cross reference his contractor license number, but nothing came up.
So she confronted him about it. Hours later, his website was taken down, according to Jones.
That’s when she got NBC 5 Responds involved.
Over the phone, Horta admitted he shouldn't have told Jones it would take two weeks because he did have another project. But a refund is out of the question.
Horta told us:
"She paid for the services. The service is rendered. Refund? For what... We were on the next phase for tiling and that's when she decided to fire us."
When NBC 5 Responds asked about the contractor license number listed on his website, he said he didnt design the website so he couldn't speak on it.
He said he did the work as an individual, and that his company wasn't involved so the license number shouldn't be of our concern.
"I am furious about this situation," said Jones.
She has since hired someone else to finish the job after learning an important lesson.
"You should never, ever give a down payment. Once the work is done, then pay the person," said Jones.
Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:
- Contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration to verify contractor license numbers. We looked up Horta’s alleged number and nothing came up.
- You can also check with the Texas Secretary of State. It only costs $1 and it could potentially save you a lot in the long run.
- You’ve gotta do your research. Use the internet to your advantage. Check reviews online.
- You shouldn't hand over your deposit until you have proof that your materials for the project have been purchased.