CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) – The Better Business Bureau gives Clearwater construction remodeler Rick Metz an “F” rating, 28 customers have filed complaints against him with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and one of the four customers who complained to Pinellas Consumer Protection called him the “Contractor from Hell.”
But Metz, who currently runs a Clearwater-based company called “Built by Metz” along a few other businesses, insists he’s one of the best when it comes to home and business remodeling construction. “I’ve always stood behind my work,” said Metz. “I’ve always done a good job. I’ve always finished the job for the contract price.”
Not always, according to hundreds of pages of complaints we found on file with the Pinellas Licensing Board, Pinellas Consumer Protection, and the Better Business Bureau.
Licensing Board Executive Director Rod Fischer told Eight on Your Side a typical construction contractor’s file is about eight pages long. But Metz’s folder replete with consumer complaints of expired permits, unlicensed work, and shoddy construction is eight inches thick and weighs several pounds.
“It seems like he almost goes out of his way to make them angry,” said Fischer. “I don’t see how that works in his favor, but that seems to be the theme over and over again.”
One of those complaints involves the Pinellas County home of Wayne Shriver. “We’ve been at this point a year and nine months with a dumpster in our front yard all torn up,” Shriver said.
According to that complaint, Shriver’s mother-in-law Kattie Massie claims she hired Metz and paid him $169,602 as of September 15th to build a second story addition on Shriver’s house. Massie wants to live in a private suite above Shriver’s home, complete with a dumbwaiter, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. The job is still unfinished. “I don’t know where it’s going to end at this point,” Shriver said.
When Eight on Your side began investigating Metz’s business practices we discovered a number of expired building permits involving Metz including one for a room addition at Sharyn Tucker’s home in Palm Harbor. Tucker insists she signed a contract with Metz 11 months ago and has nothing to show for it except an empty shell damaged by rain and work that had to be redone due to shoddy work.
In September, Tucker was furious to find out from us that the Pinellas County building permit for her home was currently listed as “abandoned” in public records and insisted she would never have signed a contract with Metz had she known how it was going to turn out. “Absolutely not, Tucker said.
Metz insists he pulled a fresh permit as soon as Tucker alerted him the prior one was “abandoned” (something that happens after no inspection activity in a six-month period). Metz blames Tucker for holding up work on that job with repeated complaints about substandard workmanship. At one point, he removed a poured foundation and started over. “We’re here to finish it,” Metz told us in September. Two months later he still has a long way to go.
Kathy Bogataj and her husband hired Metz in April 2014 to enlarge a bedroom and remodel a bathroom, a job she says Metz promised to deliver in eight weeks. But Bogataj claims it dragged on for eight months because substandard work repeatedly had to be redone. The school principal claims rain from a leaky roof damaged the interior of her home while Metz offered an ever-changing list of excuses for delays that she would never have accepted from one of her students.
“I felt like we could have done it ourselves better and we’re not construction people,” Bocataj said. “He took– I’m not exaggerating–3-4 weeks just to tile a shower. It upset our lives a lot and it was incredibly stressful.” Would she hire him again? “Never,” said Bogataj.
“I think most contractors have bumps in the road,” Metz said. “I do good work.”
We asked Metz to specifically respond to some of those “bumps”–19 of the 28 complaints filed against him with the Pinellas Licensing Board over the past five years. In 18 of those 19 home and business remodeling jobs, Metz blamed subcontractors, building inspectors, difficult customers, the weather–anything but himself.
In one closed complaint with Pinellas Consumer Protection, St. Petersburg homeowner Sally Loffredo begged investigators to make Metz finish her kitchen remodeling job. “If you send someone out here you’ll see for yourself what 19 months has done,” She wrote. “It’s crazy.”
Loffredo claimed that Metz continually offered lame excuses ranging from “someone died” to “the city won’t work with him” to “his workers are on strike (sic).”
“I ended up in the hospital with almost a full-blown breakdown,“ Loffredo wrote in her complaint. “Metz is taking a toll on my health. I can’t handle this anymore. I’m holding it together but don’t know how much longer I can do this.”
“I’m not the victim, but things happen,” Metz said. “I’m not running from any of my jobs. I stand behind what I do. I’ll fix it and move on.”
Rod Fischer, Executive Director of the Pinellas Licensing Board says he’s quite familiar with Metz after fielding more than two dozen complaints over the years from frustrated customers and fining Metz $3254 for various violations.
“What we try to do is get somebody to comply with the building codes, comply with the licensing laws and not put them out of business,” said Fischer. “There comes a point when you’re just not going to bend over backward for them anymore and Mr. Metz is, unfortunately, reaching that point.”
Records show Metz is facing a pending licensing board complaint from Clearwater homeowner James Moncrieff who alleges “unnecessary delays, code violations, falsifying information to obtain a permit(fraud), wrong materials and poor workmanship, financial misconduct(subs not paid),” involving his Island Estates home.
According to the complaint Moncrieff, an ordained minister, claims he paid Metz $88,000 for work that another contractor now says has to be demolished and redone at an estimated cost of $112,745.
Fisher says Metz will likely answer to the licensing board in January for complaints related to Moncrieff’s remodeling project. “I don’t know where his current problems are going to go, but it doesn’t look good,” said Fisher.
Metz insists he has hundreds of satisfied customers, always resolves consumer concerns, and will continue to do so with the nine remodeling projects he’s currently working on.
He’s not the least bit concerned about losing his license during his next appearance in front of the licensing board. “No sir,” Metz said. “Because I feel I’ve done everything I can to do a good job.”