You Paid For It: ‘Contractor from Hell’ gets huge break after state drags its feet

Clearwater-based home remodeler Rick Metz.
Clearwater-based home remodeler Rick Metz.

(WFLA) — In a consumer complaint. one customer called him “the contractor from hell.”  In the end, so many consumer complaints piled up against Clearwater-based home remodeler Rick Metz that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board revoked his license to operate in Pinellas County earlier this year.

He still owes that agency $22,000 in fines.

But Metz — despite all of his home improvement shenanigans and the trail of misery he has created with dozens of customers –has suddenly caught a break.

A Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation investigation that could have resulted in the loss of Metz’s statewide license has suddenly been dismissed on a technicality. Metz filed for bankruptcy protection.

DBPR investigators and attorneys insist bankruptcy laws shield Metz from any state disciplinary action or accountability because he filed bankruptcy in July a month before they took action and filed a formal complaint against Metz.. Case closed. His license is “clear and active.”  Two complaints against him are listed as “insufficient evidence to prosecute” even though that is hardly an accurate description of what really happened –there was an abundance of evidence of wrongdoing by Metz, but the agency that Floridians pay about $150 million a month just didn’t act on it soon enough.

The DBPR investigation began in 2015, but wasn’t very vigorous. An agency spokeswoman tells us investigators spent a grand total of 15 hours and about $431 on the case. Not exactly a herculean effort to get the goods on Metz, even after Pinellas County took the initiative in May to yank his local license to do business based on dozens of unresolved consumer complaints.

That leaves former customer Sharyn Tucker out in the cold.

“Anybody who has had any kind of dealings with him and lost any kind of money has no hope of vindication after all they’ve suffered under this man,” Tucker said. Metz charged her thousands for a room addition that he later abandoned and never finished.

Now Tucker doesn’t have the resources to finish the project that was supposed to be a bedroom for her 2-year-old son Billy, who wasn’t even born when her problems with Metz began.  “It is still incomplete of course, the roof is totally leaking with the plywood all rotting out. It is just a dilapidated addition outside of my backyard with falling off window sills, nothing is done. I’ve had 11 contractors advise me no one can take on the job because of the liability Rick Metz has created,” Tucker said.

Tucker was counting on funds from the state victim compensation fund to help complete the job, but the DBPR case dismissal cuts that short.

“I think it is a grave injustice that has been done to all of the victims including myself,” said Tucker.

Now, 8 On Your Side has just uncovered a potentially serious problem with Metz’s bankruptcy petition.

Pinellas County tax records show there is another owner. 88-year-old Donna Willison, listed for the $600,000 Belleair Bluffs home that Metz claims as his primary asset in Bankruptcy Court.

Metz’s lawyer says Metz purchased the home in an “agreement for deed”  from Willison in 2013, but isn’t sure if that document was ever recorded with the court.

That agreement calls for Metz to pay all taxes which this year amounts to more than $12,000, but county records indicate that Willison is the owner and payer of taxes. A tenant at the Belleair Bluffs home insists that Metz is “not the real owner” and that she pays rent to the actual owner of record, Willison.

News Channel 8 couldn’t reach Metz or Willison for comment.

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