(WSVN) - She hired a company to install a new roof and solar panels, and the nightmares began. Not one, two nightmares — and that’s when she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to find out what to do when a contractor doesn’t finish the job.

After walking into Maribel’s home, you might think it looks like something from a TV show, because it does.

Maribel Medina: “I like to watch HGTV. I’m an HGTV addict. I watch what they do, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll try that,’ and trust me, there are many failed projects.”

Maribel is being humble. She usually succeeds.

Maribel Medina: “The noodle board, yeah, I made that. I made this. Oh, this is a post here.”

She made this. A company she hired made a mess.

Maribel Medina: “When I went ahead and signed the contract, I had absolutely no reason to believe that it wouldn’t come to fruition.”

Maribel had signed a contract with a solar company to not only install solar panels, but first put on a new roof

Maribel Medina: “The total contract value was $65,000; $20,360 of that was for the roof replacement, the remainder was for the solar.”

Maribel gave the solar company $32,000.

The roofing company did a good job. And then the problems started pouring in when she tried to get the solar panels installed.

Maribel Medina: “I call the office, no response. I call her cellphone, no response.”

Months passed by. Then it got worse.

Maribel Medina: “The roofing company called me to say, ‘Hey, you know, we haven’t received payment,’ so the roofing company is owed $20,360.01.”

The solar company didn’t pay the roofer they hired. They didn’t install the solar panels.

And then Maribel discovered the truth when she talked to the owner of the company.

Maribel Medina: “And he proceeds to tell me how he had a partner who robbed from him, and so now he was having difficulty.”

Maribel had paid $32,000. Now she’s lost that and owes the roofing company another $20,000.

Maribel Medina: “And I just cried, because I thought, ‘You know, I worked so hard,’ and I was thinking that I was doing a good thing, and now here I am.”

Well, Howard, legally, where is Maribel?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, a good spot. In reality, it’s a tough spot. Maribel is not responsible for the roof because she paid the solar company, they hired the roofer and have to use Maribel’s money to pay them. The solar company also owes her the $12,500 back, but that’s where reality kicks in. If the company goes out of business, there’s not a lot you can do.”

This one was tough. It took us six months to work it out.

Unfortunately, neither side can talk about the resolution, which means they signed a confidentiality agreement.

But Maribel is happy.

Maribel Medina: “Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I have reason to smile now.”

And when you hire someone to work on your home, how can you be sure you’re happy after the job is done?

Howard Finkelstein: “Remember, track record and accountability. Hire someone you’ve checked out and others have had luck with. And don’t give big down payments, only pay each portion after the work is done. Then, if they walk away, you have the remaining money to hire someone else.”

And not only is Maribel relieved, so is her family, after the call to Help Me Howard.

Maribel Medina: “They’re happy not to hear me complaining about this or see me stressed out over it, so we’re all very excited.

That’s nice to hear. And while we tell people to pay as the work is done, many contractors will say, “I need half up front for materials.” You say, “Goodbye.”

Hit the roof trying to solve a problem? Feel like there’s no solution in your solar system? Let us negotiate to leave you in a sunny spot.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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