Homeowner Compensated After Barn Builder Problem

Attorney general filed suit following a June 2012 Troubleshooters investigation

After a two-year battle, a West Suffield woman has received partial compensation from her barn project gone wrong.

Robin Wachs planned on building a barn for her horses behind home in June 2012. She hired Hess Buildings, a contracting company from Middletown that contractor Bill Hesbach owned at the time. Wachs paid Hess Buildings about $45,000 for the project; however, she claims Hess only completed about $27,000 worth of work.

“So he basically left me with half of the work done and didn’t complete the barn,” said Wachs. “Yet I had paid him for 95-percent of the work.”

Wachs wanted to hold Hess Buildings accountable, but didn’t know who to turn to, so she called the Troubleshooters.

The day after the Troubleshooters investigation, the Department of Consumer Protection called Wachs, assigning their lead investigator to the case.

“After a lot of investigation, they decided it was a worthy case,” said Wachs.

The attorney general took Hesbach to Superior Court, where the judge ruled in April that he needed to pay Wachs half of what he owed for the unfinished project, which was $9,000.

Wachs says she doesn’t believe Hesbach’s punishment was entirely fair. Wachs asked Hesbach receive a year of probation. Instead, he applied for and received accelerated rehabilitation, which is a warning.

Everyone can apply for accelerated rehabilitation once, unless you’re a veteran like Hesbach, who can get it twice. This was his second time.

“I still feel like he walked away and got away with it,” said Wachs.

According to the Department of Consumer Protection, a few red flags could help any home owner avoid a similar nightmare.

  • Before you hire, check for complaints through the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Consumer Protection.
  • Don’t pay your contractor all at once. Wachs gave Hess Buildings 95 percent of the barn’s total cost, but they only did 50 percent of the work.

As for Hesbach, the Troubleshooters reached out to him, but he has no comment.

Hess Buildings is no longer in business.

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