Some residents of a Puyallup neighborhood say a concrete contractor rolled into their neighborhood and did substandard work to several homes. The angry homeowners went to the state for help and was told there was little or nothing they could do about it.
About a dozen residents of a Puyallup community called Manorwood, said the business 5 Star General Contractor and its owner, Nasili Liu, busted up their homes and broke their bank accounts.
Last summer, 5 Star General Contractor trucks rolled into the neighborhood and solicited homeowners like Mitch Harris. Harris had a retaining wall he wanted to built. The contractor asked for $5,000 upfront.
“He cashed my check within minutes, like before the ink dried,” Harris explained.
The job wasn’t up to Harris’ standard.
“All we got was destroyed cement, destroyed fence about 100 plus yards of dirt piled up in the backyard and a wall, which was ready to fall if the rain came down enough,” Harris said.
Frank Fazekas is an inspector from Labor and Industries who checked out much of the work in Manorwood.
“You could see the water coming through the wall that they had dug against,” Fazekas explained. “It didn’t appear it had been drained properly.”
A few streets away, Shela Krause said she agreed to share payment for a retaining wall with her neighbor, and to replace her driveway.
“He kept saying ‘my word is my bond. And a handshake.’ That’s how he operated,” Krause explained.
Krause said she asked for an estimate from the contractor, but got an unexpected response.
“In his foreign language, said something to them and basically, they dropped what they were doing, literally walked across the yard, three of them, and walked up and grabbed the top of our fence and just started shaking it,” Krause explained.
The fence went down and then the estimate came up.
“I guess we didn’t even really have a chance to agree verbally,” Krause said. “He just started the destruction, so then we’re kind of locked in.”
Another neighbor, Michael Jolly, is recovering after he said slippery, and poorly treated concrete, caused him to fall and break his elbow and arm.
“When I hit the top step, my feet came out from under me and I think I came down on, the first thing that hit was my right elbow,” Jolly explained.
It’s not the only thing that’s hurting at his home.
“They filled this whole edge in with bags of cement,” Jolly said. “They smoothed it down a little bit and they left all of this leftover concrete… pretty poor.”
In James Coghill’s backyard, the contractor poured concrete over his brick walkway. The contractor also poured the concrete right up against his foundation.
Frank Fazekas, the Labor and Industries inspector, said he saw the work and can’t do anything about it.
“The construction contracting law in the state of Washington does not address the quality of a contractor’s work,” Fazekas explained.
There was more than $100,000 dollars’ worth of work done in the neighborhood, but Fazekas said the only thing the neighbors can do is file against the bond of the contractor for poor workmanship or an incomplete project. But that state required bond is just $12,000 dollars to split amongst all of them.
In the end, all Fazekas could do was to fine Nasili Liu $2,500 for a technicality on his paperwork, which he promptly paid.
Fazekas said Nasili Liu is currently legally working.
Mr. Liu declined an on-camera interview. His lawyer said he can’t talk because of the insurance claims filed by the homeowners.
Liu has a B rating with the Better Business Bureau and he doesn’t have complaints with the Attorney General’s Office.
Many neighbors in Manorwood are now contemplating hiring another contractor to make things right. But what they really want are the cracks in the state’s system fixed first.
“There needs to be more done to prevent these people from coming in to do the work that they’re doing,” Harris said. “They need to be stopped. They need to be under control.”
Mitch Harris ended up firing the company to prevent more damage. Shela Krause was able to get a partial refund from her credit card company. Michael Jolly is considering a negligence lawsuit against the company for the work on because injuries.