Killingworth Couple Pays for Deck, Deal Collapses

A Killingworth husband and wife say they're out hundreds of dollars after hiring a contractor for work that was never done.

Ronald and Rose LaPorto say they hired a local carpenter, Keith Hjork, in early July to take out two eight-inch steps leading to their porch and replace them with four four-inch steps.  They say they also wanted Hjork to add a railing on both sides and level the walkway.  It's all to make things more manageable for Rose, who has trouble walking and often uses a cane and a wheelchair.

"I stay mostly on the porch and when we have to go out then my husband helps me up and down," said Rose LaPorto. 

"He told me it was going to cost $580.  He'd get the work done as soon as possible.  He'd start that work the following Monday or Tuesday," said Ronald LaPorto.

The LaPorto's did not sign a contract, and say they paid Hjork the full amount up front, and have a cancelled check as proof.  They say Hjork never showed up to do the work and has only refunded them $60 of the $580 they paid him.  "He says to me, 'I don't want to do no work for you' and that was closed case right there," said Ronald LaPorto.

Our efforts to reach Keith Hjork have been unsuccessful.  State police have looked into the matter, and say Hjork told them he would return the money.  That hasn't happened, according to the LaPorto's.

Hjork is not listed as a registered contractor with the state Department of Consumer Protection.  Working as an unregistered contractor is a crime in Connecticut, according to Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell.  Farrell also points out that contracts detailing the scope of the work, along with start and end dates, are essential.  

"We encourage people don't hire an unregistered contractor.  You're putting yourself in harm's way and then you don't have access to the home improvement guaranty fund, through which if there were a problem and you had a registered contractor, you can get up to $15,000 back," said Farrell.

The LaPorto's still hope to get their money back and say it took them six months to save it.  They say they have nothing left to hire anyone else.

"It's discouraging," said Rose LaPorto.

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