FRANKLIN, Wis. - A Franklin family found themselves stuck in the mud, literally, waiting for their contractor to finish a job.
In July and August 2020, Gaurang and Darpitha Patel paid a contractor for a few projects, including laying new concrete around their home. Once the ground was torn up for the concrete, it remained that way for weeks.
"Until mid-October, it was just ripped apart," said Gaurang Patel. "The basement walls started getting water in [them]."
The Patels eventually paid another contractor to finish the job.
"It was getting way past the season time to lay the concrete," said Gaurang Patel.
In all, the Patels paid contractor Steve Kovacs about $10,000 for the unfinished concrete work, an exterior paint job, and some gutter replacement. Patel isn’t happy with the paint or gutter work, either. He showed Contact 6 where the glass in his window well had been painted over.
The Patels filed a complaint with Contact 6 regarding Kovacs in October 2020. When Contact 6 emailed Kovacs about a refund at the time, he wrote back, "Hopefully we can come to something that works. Only time will tell."
In January 2021, the Patels filed a civil suit against Kovacs. Over the summer, an $18,000 judgment was entered in their favor.
Kovacs agreed to an audio-only interview with Contact 6.
"[The Patels] definitely have a legitimate complaint," said Kovacs. "They wanted a service. They didn’t get what they expected, and that’s no one’s fault but mine."
Kovacs admits to making other mistakes in the past. He has a history of court judgments against him.
In December 2019, a $6,000 small claims judgment was entered against Kovacs for an unfinished remodeling project. The complaint said,"only the demo had been attempted."
In November 2019, a $1,300 judgment was entered against Kovacs for a roofing job. A complaint says Kovacs failed "to start the job".
In March 2019, Kovacs was ordered to pay a $16,000 for a storage shed project, in which a complaint says the shed wasn’t built.
Back in 2004, Kovacs was convicted of three counts of Theft by Contractor.
Contact 6 asked Kovacs about his history in small claims and criminal court.
"I probably wasn’t cut out for the things I wanted to do and I wanted to accomplish," said Kovacs.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives Kovacs an ‘F’ rating. The BBB has had a file on Kovacs since 1993. Its CEO points to a list of business names the BBB has connected to Kovacs as a red flag.
"We all know that a business relies on its name," said Jim Temmer, BBB Wisconsin CEO. "When you have a good name, you put it out there. When you don’t think you have a good name, you change it as often as possible."
Contact 6 asked Kovacs about changing his business name over the years. He acknowledged changing the name a few times.
"As we moved into other areas, the names may have changed," said Kovacs.
Contact 6 asked contractor Nick Kerzner, owner of Kerzner Remodeling & Construction, to review Kovac’s work at the Patel’s home. Kerzner pointed out multiple problems, including places where the paint was already starting to flake off.
"The biggest offense here is just: not a professional painter," said Kerzner.
However, Kerzner said he’s more concerned about the Patel’s contract with Kovacs.
"It’s a list of pseudo-specifications. They aren’t specific at all," said Kezner.
Kerzner says the document has no Three Day Right to Cancel clause and no reference to lien waivers.
"It should also specify: if there are delays, how are those delays handled?" said Kerzner.
Contact 6 asked Kovacs if he was satisfied with how the Patel’s job turned out.
"I’m absolutely upset about the way it turned out," said Kovacs. "For sure. I mean, they’re good people."
The Patels say they could have avoided the muddy situation altogether by doing more online research.
"If you hire any contractor, go on BBB first," said Gaurang Patel.
The Patels met Kovacs through a mutual acquaintance at a restaurant.
Kovacs tells Contact 6 that he plans to pay the Patels back and make payments on past judgments against him. He says he’s no longer taking contractor jobs from the public.