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Homeowner says contractor owes him $18k after botching job

(WHAM Photo)

Hemlock, N.Y. (13WHAM) - Tom LaVigne bought a home in Hemlock five year ago. Last May, Tom says he met a contractor who claimed he could redo the home for a lower cost than the competition, so Tom hired him.

Now, nearly 18 months later, Tom says he's paid the the contractor, Samuel Benigni, nearly $18,000 and he hasn't come through on his word. Tom says Benigni told him he could have the house done by last November. But as October 8, Tom and his wife are far from being able to move in.

He admits he didn't research Benigni before hiring him, something which he is now regretting. According to the Better Business Bureau, Benigni's business isn't accredited.

"He seemed to be pretty straightforward, up front, seemed to know what he was talking about," Tom said. "I mean, everything he did say I heard from other contractors, so I didn't dispute it."

From the outside, the home doesn't look too bad. There's some blemishes and unfinished work, but it's a different story on the interior where the home appears gutted, complete with insulation hanging from the walls and ceilings.

Tom says there's still no furnace, incomplete electric wiring and much more left to be done.

Now, Tom claims Benigni is still hardly showing up for work.

"It got to the point of harassing him to come do the work," Tom said. We would call him and text him and he'd say he'd do it 'this day' or 'that day,' but then he'd come up with an excuse as to why he didn't do it."

After months of headache and trying to get his money back with help of the state's Attorney General office, Tom says he'd still like to get the work completed by winter. Although at this point, he's thinking about cutting bait.

"If he could do that and sign a contract, I'd be willing but I'd actually rather get the money back and start fresh," Tom said.

13WHAM reached out to Benigni on his cell phone and at his business where a receptionist took a message. As of late Sunday, we've yet to hear his side of everything. We will update this story if we hear back from Benigni.

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