PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - When George and Debbie Stevenson decided to add on to their home, they found an ad for "Honey Do Handyman Service" in the Penny Pincher.
They hired Valentino Salazar who gave them a bid for $24,500 to build the addition. The Stevenson's signed a contract on March 18.
Soon after, Debbie Stevenson said, Salazar began asking for more money.
"He came in and said he had a problem that with this large addition and we were already in the middle of it that they went $3,000 over. So we thought that's not that bad to get it done and we want to get it done, bam okay," she added, "It ended up they didn't have the money to buy the materials which was all included in all of this."
The Stevenson's ended up buying most if not all the materials needed for the work.
"When I started totaling these figures up we got up to close to $30,000 in just labor payments to him and this is what we have right here and our bill was $24,500," Debbie said. "They wanted to keep coming and they expected to get paid each week."
Worried about the work that had been done, Debbie Stevenson contacted the Harrison County permit office only to learn Salazar didn't get a building permit.
Debbie said, "They came out and they shut it down. They said, they didn't apply and they made us believe that out in the county you didn't need a permit."
A Harrison County building inspector to the Stevenson's most of Salazar's work wasn't built to code finding eight violations
George Stevenson said, "The door has got to be moved over where the window is. It's got to be at least 27 inches from the edge of the house which it isn't, it's right at the edge."
The door has to be moved and the window eliminated. What the Stevenson's didn't know when they hired Salazar, is that other homeowners had similar problems.
In 2006 WLOX News investigated complaints against Salazar. He was later arrested in Biloxi, Gulfport, and Waveland.
After spending more than a year in jail, Salazar was convicted of fraud on August 21, 2007. He was released and put on probation two months later.
Even before they knew they hired a convicted contractor, the Stevenson's started investigating Salazar on the website Beenverified.com.
They found 18 judgements against him in Mississippi, Michigan and Texas that total $62,800. WLOX News confirmed what they found with authorities in Lansing, Michigan and in Calhoun County, Texas. WLOX contacted Salazar on his cell phone to ask about the work at the Stevenson's home.
When asked, why the Stevenson's paid more than $30,000 for a job that was bid out at $24,500, Salazar hung up the phone. The Stevenson's say Salazar wanted to return to the job, but they refused to let him back in their home.
In May, the Stevenson's filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the State Attorney General's Office and they are now investigating their complaints against Salazar.