Couple gets new kitchen, contractor arrested and charged following Call 6 Investigation

Contractors step in to help couple who lost $6,000

INDIANAPOLIS -- An east side couple has a newly remodeled home following a Call 6 Investigation into their contractor, Jerry Hatten.

We first told you about Carlene and Keith Hall back in August after they said Hatten took their $6,000 and ran without doing the work promised.

When Call 6 Investigates aired the Halls story, Hatten was a convicted felon with warrants out for his arrest.

Shortly after our story aired, Hatten was arrested by local law enforcement.

“Because of your story airing, somebody recognized him and turned him in and that’s how they caught him,” said homeowner Carlene Hall.

Not only was Hatten arrested, following the Call 6 Investigation, prosecutors in multiple counties filed five new criminal cases against Hatten for home improvement fraud, theft and check deception.

Marion County prosecutors mentioned Call 6 Investigates’ report on the Halls when they charged Hatten with four felonies for stealing the Halls $6,000.

Hatten is due in court on the Halls case on March 12.

“It restored our faith in humanity,” said Carlene Hall.  

But Call 6 Investigates wasn’t finished, because the Halls still needed their home remodeled—it was their 40th wedding anniversary gift to each other.

We contacted the Indiana Builders Association who put us in touch with the Guy Corporation, Shoopman Homes and Ken Woods Painting.

The contractors fixed up the Halls home at a much-reduced rate.

“It couldn’t have happened without you, Kara,” said Carlene Hall. “You’re an angel in disguise.”

Hall said they can finally enjoy their home once again.

"It's just a big relief,” said Carlene Hall. “We are so full of gratitude for these good people that stepped up and showed yes, there are people who help. You can't do it by yourself anymore.   "

The Halls wish they had picked a reliable contractor to start with, but when they hired Hatten they found him on Angie’s List and assumed he was vetted.

As it turned out, Hatten was a convicted felon with a slew of pending criminal cases.

"It cost us, but we learned a valuable lesson," said Carlene Hall.

As Hatten faces a bunch of court appearances in the coming months, the Halls want prison time.

“I hope he gets what is due,” said Keith Hall.  

The contractors who helped the Halls did not want to appear on camera but said they want you to know there’s plenty of honest contractors out there.

“There are good people in the world,” said Keith Hall. 

Before you hire a contractor, it’s a good idea to go to Mycase.in.gov and see if that contractor has any criminal cases or civil cases pending or on their record.

Make sure to use their name and their company name.

Also, the Indiana Builders Association has just launched a new building guide to help make the process easier.

Contractors who are IBA members agree to follow a code of ethics and by-laws that govern the association.


Statement from IBA President Pat Richard

“Homeownership is the foundation of the American Dream, and it’s important that homeowners feel secure when paying others to do work in and outside their home. By adhering to a code of ethics and offering industry education and designations for our members, we aim to provide confidence for Hoosier homeowners like Keith and Carlene when they are looking for someone to help with home improvement projects.

“The Indiana Builders Association is disappointed to hear of the hardships Indiana residents face when a contractor is fraudulent in their claim of providing service to a home or business. Unfortunately, some online search engines make it easy to set-up a profile even if you are not a legitimate contractor. For this reason, our organization has put together an Online Buyer’s Guide for homeowners and industry professionals to connect with local builders, suppliers and contractors. This way, families like the Hall’s, can know their home renovation project is done by members of an organization that fosters professionalism and dedication to the industry.

The new Buyer’s Guide can be found at www.inbuildersbuyersguide.com, or by visiting our home page www.buildindiana.org and clicking on the “Find Someone for Your Next Home Project” button. Members are designated by having the IBA logo next to their listing."

FINDING A CONTRACTOR

  • Take your time. Don’t let the contractor rush your decision.
  • Do research. Know how much you can afford and what you want to be done.
  • Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau for complaint information on contractors you are considering.
  • Talk to your friends who used this contractor. Did they like his work?
  • Opt for the local, well-established contractor. Don’t assume that an ad makes the contractor reliable.
  • Compare bids and services. Be skeptical if the bid is too low. Cheaper is not necessarily better. A contractor with a low price may be inexperienced and unable to finish the work for the amount bid.
  • Get bids in writing. Does the bid reflect the improvements you discussed? How long will the project take? A detailed, written proposal allows you to shop around.
  • Is the contractor licensed, bonded and insured? Licensing requirements vary from community to community.
  • Check with your city or county building department to determine the licensing requirements for your area and if the contractor you are considering is properly licensed, bonded and insured.

BEFORE SIGNING THE CONTRACT

  • Get a written contract. Indiana law requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing. Before signing the contract, make certain it includes:
  • The price of the job
  • Payment schedule
  • A detailed description of the work and materials (including colors, brand names, and patterns)
  • Estimated start and completion dates
  • The contractor’s name and address
  • A name and telephone number of the person to contact if problems arise
  • The contractor’s signature
  • Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. Do not pay more than 1/3 of the total cost as a down payment. Remaining payments should be tied to completion of specified amounts of work.

AFTER SIGNING THE CONTRACT

  • Is a permit needed for your home improvement? Many localities require permits for building projects. Contact your local building department to see if a permit is needed. A contractor should not start work until the permit is issued.
  • Don’t make the final payment to the contractor until you know that all subcontractors and/or suppliers have been paid. Get written a proof of payment. Subcontractors and suppliers may file a mechanics lien against your home if they haven’t been paid.
  • Get a copy of the warranty. If a contractor guarantees labor and/or materials, those warranties should be in writing.
  • Keep all records related to your project. This includes the contract, change orders, warranties, and correspondence. These records are important, particularly if you have a problem with your project.

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