PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Rick Metz is allegedly at it again. The Clearwater-based licensed building contractor was once dubbed the “contractor from hell” in a consumer complaint because of his shoddy work and seemingly endless construction projects.
The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board has filed six new administrative complaints against Metz, in addition to dozens of others filed during the past five years that are already in his file. The new allegations include such things as poor workmanship, failure to obtain permits, job abandonment, failure to pay subcontractors, failure to pass final inspection because of uncorrected code deficiencies, fraud or deceit or gross negligence, incompetency, or misconduct in the practice of contracting.
Jessenia Martinez is a tenant in Metz’s Clearwater office complex. Martinez said her boyfriend used to work for Metz until he became disenchanted with Metz’s business practices. “He leaves the job sites for months and months and months,” Martinez said. “I’ve had customers coming here looking for him knocking on my door.”
There’s more. 8 On Your side looked into one of Metz’s current projects.
Fifty-six days ago Metz started repairing roofs at the Copper Mug Plaza on S. Belcher Road. On Wednesday morning, as a line of heavy thunderstorms moved through the area, some of the plaza’s business managers used buckets and towels to catch rain water dripping from gaping holes and cracks in the ceiling.
For weeks, the only employee working on the Copper Mug Plaza roof project under Metz’s direction has been Darryl Palmer. Last week Palmer was working there in violation of a stop work order by the City of Clearwater.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Palmer told 8 On Your Side. “I wasn’t aware of it. Believe me, not at all.” Over a period of several days 8 On Your Side watched Palmer arrive late, leave early and struggle to pound roof nails in with a hammer between his numerous smoke breaks.
The City of Clearwater served notice on Metz more than a month ago that the check he wrote for the roof permit March 9th had been returned for insufficient funds. When 8 On Your Side alerted the city work was ongoing, City Building Official Kevin Garriott instructed his inspectors to issue a stop work order until Metz settled his debt with the city, which Metz did a few days later.
Wednesday, when severe storms pounded the Tampa Bay area, some of the rain ended up flooding a laundromat at the plaza because of a gaping hole in the ceiling. The bakery next door also sprung a leak over the cash register, and the Copper Mug bar and liquor store showed signs of ceiling damage and carpet stains from previous storms.
Business tenants in the plaza referred questions to property owner Robert Metz Sr., who is Rick Metz’s uncle. Metz Sr. did not return 8 On Your Side’s calls for comment, and his nephew Rick Metz referred all of our questions to his attorney.
It’s not clear who is going to finish the roofing work at the plaza because a man who identified himself as Palmer’s son-in-law said Palmer had been fired for leaving the roof exposed and unprotected from rain for three days prior to Wednesday’s storms.
That created a lot of headaches for plaza tenants and possibly a paycheck problem for Palmer. “I don’t get paid until the job’s done,” he said last week. By all appearances, Rick Metz’s latest project is a long way from completion.
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