Customers say they were bilked by crooked contractor
Contractor Mike Shea says he didn't mean to leave clients 'in the lurch'
A local contractor, who clients say appeared to be a polished professional, turned their dream renovations into nightmares, CBC Investigates has learned.
But there are many others who have complaints about Shea and his handiwork.
Vickie Ivany wanted to do major renovations to her elderly mother's house in Mount Pearl.
She hired Mike Shea and Shea Contracting to start the work in September 2012.
It was supposed to be a simple job: build a basement apartment and renovate the upstairs.
In the end, the house had a total of $225,000 worth of renovations — but that work is hard to see.
There's a door, but no back deck or stairs leading up to it; there are random holes in the outdoor siding; and there are gaps in laminate flooring that was laid last year.
I was conned. Ripped off. There's no other word for it.- Vickie Ivany
"They took a piece of siding to install the outdoor electrical outlet and just tossed it," said Ivany.
A structure was also added in a hallway to cover a pipe, but it made the hallway so narrow that most furniture can't be moved in.
Ivany said she believes she was swindled.
"I was conned. Ripped off. There's no other word for it," she said. "I would go so far as to say the man is a sociopath."
The bid for the job that was quoted to her was for $121,000, with $25,000 of that money up front.
"Two weeks later, I got a summary. He came back, [said] he needed another $25,000," Ivany said.
"Two weeks after that, another summary — he needed another $25,000."
Ivany and Shea had agreed upon having the work completed by Jan. 31, 2013.
"At this point, I had to go on the mortgage with my mother," Ivany said.
"We had to... pay for the cost of another appraisal, had to pay for the cost of independent legal advice again, had to pay for the cost of another permit, had to pay the cost of registration fees, and a penalty to pay out the previous lender for the new moneys."
To complete the renovations on the basement, Shea told Ivany he would need another $65,000.
In total, including labour, materials, and legal fees, Ivany paid $250,000 — nearly $130,000 over her initial budget.
Ivany said she feels frustrated.
"I feel like a fool," she said. "And I still don't have a registered apartment. He didn't produce, the electrical didn't pass. Didn't provide certificates for HVAC or plumbing, so I can't get a registered apartment."
But Ivany isn't alone in her frustration.
Barry Fordham hired Shea Contracting in 2011.
As work began, Fordham noticed that he was being charged for tools.
"[Shea] said, 'Listen, you know, I can't have a man leave your job site and go to Mount Pearl and get like a hammer or something like that.' And I said, 'No, in all fairness, that's right. You go up to Rona and get it, but you don't charge me for the hammer,'" he said.
Fordham noticed other discrepancies that were thousands of dollars more than what they should have been.
"[Shea] came in here with just a little notebook in his hand, expecting that cheque for $13,800," he said.
Fordham said he had all of his paperwork laid out, and went through each individual bill, counting out the deductions.
"When I was finished, I owed him $1,100," he said.
After all of those issues, Fordham said his roof is still leaking.
Difficult to find
Shea's customers have had trouble tracking him down.
CBC Investigates finally reached Shea by phone, but he refused to do an interview.
Shea also said he never meant to leave any of his customers "in the lurch," and that he's happy to resolve outstanding issues.
After CBC Investigates spoke to Shea, he went back and talked to his previous customers.
When he contacted Vickie Ivany, Shea promised to fix his mess if CBC Investigates dropped this story.
Shea's former customers said they placed their trust in the contractor, and in turn, Mike Shea turned their lives upside down.
"So to say that myself and my wife and my family had a horrible experience would be putting it too mildly," said Fordham.
Ivany said she feels guilty for this to have happened to her 76-year-old mother's home.
"It's just, it's horrible. It's taken over my life," she said.
"It's a year, over a year of constant stress and exhaustion... I'm sure that man has no trouble sleeping at night."