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Disabled vet out $37k after contractor leaves home renovation project unfinished

Wendy Dunn and her husband
Posted at 11:21 AM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 18:26:32-04

PUEBLO COUNTY — An Avondale woman spent her savings to build an ADA accessible bedroom and bathroom for her disabled husband.

After writing the check, the contractor hired to do the work started the job and then disappeared.

Wendy Dunn paid more than $37,000 up front for a two-story addition to her home back in August 2020.

Wendy Dunn
Wendy Dunn showing KOAA 5 the frame the contractor installed

According to Dunn, the upper floor was supposed to have two bedrooms for her grandchildren and the lower floor was supposed to have an accessible bedroom and bathroom for her husband---a disabled veteran.

"This is what we got," Dunn showed News 5. "He's not coming back. It's over and he took our money and we have nothing to show for it."

Unfinished renovation project
Unfinished renovation project

Dunn says she hired a name named Lucas "Luke" Smith, the owner of Legion Construction.

We couldn't find an official web site for Legion Construction, but did find multiple advertisements Smith posted for home renovation services on social media.

Legion Construction Facebook Advertisement
Legion Construction Facebook Advertisement

In one Facebook ad, Smith describes his business as "reliable, fast, quality work that won't break the bank".

"I would have never thought the man was breathing a word that was untrue," Dunn said. "He was a very good smooth talker from day 1."

After taking the money, Legion Construction did start the project by laying a concrete foundation and partial wood frame.

Frame outside the Dunn family house
Frame outside the Dunn family house

As of May 2021---9 months later, the project remains unfinished.

Dunn says no one from the company has shown up for several months.

Concrete slab
Concrete slab

Her yard is now left with mounds of dirt, along with a foundation she says is crumbling and not aligned with the floor height of her home.

Dirt piles outside the Dunn family home
Dirt piles left outside the Dunn Family home

"We trusted him," she said. "He gave us a great talk a month before we started and once he started he never came back."

News 5 sent Smith a certified letter seeking comment last month. So far, he has not responded.

The Dunn's are now being represented by the Moye White Law Firm in Denver.

"The work Legion did perform failed to conform to the relevant plans and building codes," attorney Patrick Hickey said in a "Notice of Construction Defects" letter issued to Legion Construction. "In addition to the uncompleted and defective construction, Legion is wrongfully holding $37,800 that the Dunn's paid Legion for the project pursuant to a check dated August 2, 2020."

The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office sent a detective out to take a case report related to the matter.

The report was turned over to the Pueblo County DA's Office for review for possible criminal charges.

Since work on the project was started, the case was deemed civil in nature.

The Dunn family says they are now moving forward with filing a lawsuit.

"Nothing has been touched since he (Lucas Smith) left it," Dunn said.

Drone photograph of the unfinished project
Drone photograph of the unfinished project

Researching contractors:

Before writing any contractor a check or handing over money, make sure they hold a valid contractor's license with your county's regional building department.

Pikes Peak Regional Building: 719-327-2880
Pueblo Building Department: 719-543-0002

Always get a contract in writing and request a "start date" and estimated "completion date" be disclosed on the contract. This can assist you if your case ends up in civil court.

Contractors should carry insurance for their company. Ask to see a copy of their insurance coverage so you know what is covered.

Use online reviews as a reference, but understand that reviews are not always vetted. You can check official complaints filed by calling your local Better Business Bureau Office or the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

BBB: 719-636-1155
Colorado AG: 720-508-6000

Hired a contractor who didn't do any work?:

If you paid a contractor money up front for a job that has not been started, this case may be criminal in nature and you should file a report with your local law enforcement agency.

However, if a project was started and just isn't complete, the case is likely civil in nature and you'll have to file a civil lawsuit to recover any money and damages you believe you are owed.

Filing formal complaints:

Facebook, Yelp! and Google reviews help other consumers research companies, but they are not official complaints.

To file a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau, click here.

To file a formal complaint with the consumer protection division at the Colorado Attorney General's Office, click here.

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