South Grafton Man Ordered to Pay More Than $100,000 to Consumers for Illegal Home Improvement Practices
Defendant Permanently Prohibited from Operating Without a License; Ordered to Pay an Additional $47,600 in Civil Penalties and Fees
BOSTON – A South Grafton man has been ordered to pay $111,000 in restitution after he contracted to perform home improvement projects without proper registration, failed to complete the work, and misappropriated thousands of dollars from consumers, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
On Tuesday, a default judgment was entered in Suffolk Superior Court by Judge Bonnie MacLeod against Kyle Buckminster of South Grafton. Under the judgment, Buckminster was ordered to pay an additional $35,000 in civil penalties, and $12,600 in fees, and is permanently prohibited from engaging in home improvement or general contracting services without proper registration or license. Last December, the AG’s Office obtained a preliminary injunction against Buckminster.
“Unlicensed home contracting work takes away business from honest contractors and puts homeowners at risk,” AG Coakley said. ”While we were able to secure restitution in this matter as well as civil penalties, consumers should always do their homework before hiring a contractor by asking the right questions.”
According to a complaint filed last November, Buckminster – d/b/a Buckminster Construction, Kyle Buckminster Fine Custom Carpentry and Finishing, Mid-Cape Construction and Fine Custom Carpentry, Blue Ocean Builders, and First Commonwealth Builders – had his home improvement contractor’s license revoked in 2000 and has never held a construction supervisor license. He has solicited work both as a home improvement and general contractor in Massachusetts.
The lawsuit followed findings in August by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) that Buckminster had been operating as a home improvement contractor without a license in four matters filed by South Grafton residents in 2011, all claiming that Buckminster failed to fulfill his obligations under their home improvement contracts.
The AG’s Office alleged that even after OCABR ordered Buckminster to pay thousands of dollars of penalties and cease engaging in any residential contracting services without appropriate licensure, he continued to solicit work in Massachusetts by holding himself out as being licensed. It was also alleged that Buckminster misappropriated more than $40,000 from a fifth individual for a construction project in West Yarmouth. The complaint further alleges that Buckminster failed to pay any of the $9,550 in penalties assessed by OCABR.
The Home Improvement Contractor Law establishes a registration requirement for home improvement contractors. Consumers are advised to check with OCABR to make sure that the contractor they hire is currently registered, and to interview at least three contractors and request a written, detailed estimate before hiring a home improvement contractor.
Consumers who discover that a home improvement contractor is not registered should contact the Attorney General's Office to report this illegal act.
Assistant Attorneys General Jackie Rompre and Gillian Feiner of AG Coakley’s Consumer Protection Division handled this matter, with assistance from Investigators Monique Cascarano and Jody Quartarone.