Lia Coppolecchia admits her renovation was going to be big. Many smaller contractors just couldn't take it on but she said Plainville's Built Right's sales people made her a promise she just couldn't refuse.
"They swore up and down that they could handle the job, that it wasn't too big and it would take a few months," she said.
So, in July 2011, she signed a contract and paid the company $153,000 for their work, including materials and labor, to add a garage, expand storage space and enlarge her living room.
Her payments were to be paid in installments until the job was completed. And as promised, construction went on schedule at the agreed cost until she signed a second contract in late September for an additional $60,000 to gut and remodel her kitchen and powder room.
But after the second contract was signed, she said demands for payments were coming quickly and Built Right didn't adhere to any kind of schedule.
"It made perfect sense. In order for the cabinet maker to start making cabinetry, he had to buy materials, his labor, his time. So, when when they needed the money to start that, it made perfect sense," she said.
But one November day, she said work stopped completely.
She asked questions and was told that workers were pulled off the job by Bethany Brenner, the owner of Built Right NE. The company has since changed its name to Built Right CT. Brenner's primary job is as a dentist in Burlington.
Coppolecchia said subcontractors hired by Brenner for her renovation complained they weren't getting paid.
Subcontractors went to Coppolecchia looking for answers. The cabinet maker hired to build her cabinets, which cost more than $16,000, said he only received a partial payment for the job.
"I would then have to make copies of all the money I gave (Brenner) and show them I did pay her," Coppolecchia said.
So for the last several months, Coppolecchia has been living in a half-done house, endured an entire winter with exposed insulation on her first floor.
The I-Team didn't find Brenner in her Burlington dental office. No one answered the door at Built Right's office even though someone was inside.
Brenner's lawyer, Steven Kaplan, said his client was "freaked out" by the media.
Kaplan said, "This is nothing more than a payment dispute between a builder and a homeowner."
Coppolecchia disputes the Built Right's allegations that she owes it money.
She estimates she's given almost $187,000 to the company, but it wants immediate payment of $73,700 for work Coppolecchia claims was never done.
Coppolecchia has a new legal team and says she intends to sue the company.
The I-Team has learned both the state attorney general and the state department of Consumer Protection are investigating the company.
At the time Coppolecchia signed her contract and the renovation began, Built Right wasn't even registered with the state Department of Consumer Protection to do contracting work, which is a violation of the state's home improvement act.
Coppolecchia's dream home now has several liens against it from subcontractors seeking payments. The list includes the CT lighting Center for $1,600 and more than $8,000 from Gus Rodney's company Hartford-based Fine Line Builders.
"I didn't want to, but I had to put a mechanics lien on the homeowner's house. I don't really want to do that, but I want to get paid," said Rodney.
Coppolecchia just wants the work finished and continues to spend money just so she can get her house back in order.
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