WDAM Investigates: Contractor troubles

Updated: May. 14, 2019 at 9:53 PM CDT
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PERRY COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - “Nothing was finished. Everything started, nothing was finished,” said List Cowart as she walks through her Perry County home.

When she and her husband, James Cowart, found their new home in Perry County, they were hoping a remodel would be simple. The plan was to turn the four-bedroom, two-bath house into a two-bedroom, two-bath house. Through word of mouth, they hired a contractor in January named Sean Kittrell to do the job.

“He said $25,000 would take care of everything and get us in our home. All we would have to do is move our furniture in,” Lisa said.

More than $25,000 later, on what the Cowarts say was supposed to a month to a month and a half job, the remodel is far from done.

“By February 25 we should’ve been in the house, " Lisa said.

The Cowarts said they’ve spent about $13,000 in addition to that $25,000 to hire other contractors and do some work on their own. The Cowarts do admit there’s no contract between them and Kittrell, laying out what was supposed to be done, how much it was going to cost or when it was suppose to be finished.

“A man’s word is supposed to mean something, but his don’t mean nothing,” James said.

WDAM spoke with Kittrell by phone. He said the Cowarts did pay him about $25,000, but there was no set price in regards to a total cost. Kittrell also said the Cowarts changed their minds along the way and he stopped working in March, when the Cowarts stopped paying. Because of pending legal reasons, Kitrell declined an interview.

Under state law, contractors are required to have a license for any residential remodel with a total price of more than $10,000. So we checked with the Mississippi State Board of Contractors and learned Kittrell doesn’t have a license.

In fact, he never has. Even with no license, there are no current complaints filed against Kittrell or his work. The state board of contractors has a top 10 list of things to do when it comes to hiring a contractor. Two of the main ones are to verify the contractor’s license and require a written contract.

Those are two things the Cowarts admittedly didn’t do, which may have ended up costing them more than they initially thought. The Cowarts said their savings has been used to finance the remodel.

“It’s pretty much wiped us out,” said Lisa.

The Cowarts plan to file a complaint with the state board of contractors, which could lead to fines. Lawsuits may also be filed from both sides since there’s no resolve.

With no extra money to spend, getting their remodel done will take some time.

“Right now, I’m past all the mad and passed all the crying, I just want my house finished,” Lisa said.

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