Extreme-ly upsetting - home makeover

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Seven On Your Side
March 7, 2011 2:48:26 PM PST
The young Brooklynite hired an architect to help plan and build a beautiful renovation. But, instead, got a gaping hole in the ground. Tens of thousands of dollars are owed him from an architect. who he says, took his money and didn't deliver. Welcome to Robert Bonsangue's nightmare. "This has been like this since (last) June," says the Astoria resident.

Now, instead of a living room, he has a 3 foot deep crater. The big dig should've been the first step to convert his parent's basement into a gleaming new apartment. The registered nurse's hope, to live just steps away and take care of his aging parents. So he took out a loan to get the job started.

"It's an investment for the future and it's also staying in the family," Bonsangue said.

He hired a Manhattan architect/designer named Paul Dipippa, who's online portfolio, includes his own lavish apartment. Mr. Dipippa says he no longer lives there.

Robert paid him $8,500 for plans and another $21,000 which he says Dipippa was supposed to give to the contractor.

The contractor had begun the demolition work. But then they found out that the architect's plans submitted to the city were rejected. All the permits and the plans. So the work had to stop. A hole in their basement was what the family was left with.

Then the last straw, the architect bounced checks to the city meant to pay for permits.

"I felt at that point he wasn't the right person for the job," said Bonsangue. "So I fired him."

Dipippa did pay him back his $10,000 deposit. "But Paul owes me $18,700 for the remainder of the fee," says Bonsangue.

Since November, Robert has a bunch of text messages from the architect.

"Expect to have funds to you by Thursday," (before Christmas) reads one of them says Bonsangue.

But promises never turned to pay leaving Robert, "Frustrated, overwhelmed, embarrassed."

So 7 On Your Side contacted the Dipippa weeks ago. The designer blamed his money woes on the bad economy. And said the contractor, not him, was the cause for his basement hole. But earlier this week, Robert got $4,000 in cash from Dipippa.

And 2 days later,a huge step forward. The architect came through with the whole enchilada a bank check for $14,700 more, with an apology for what he called an accounting error.

I'm really happy that Channel 7 got involved and was able to expedite the whole process," said a relieved Bonsangue.

After living with a hole and the headache for almost a year now, he'll use the money to restart his stalled renovation.

Story by: Nina Pineda

Produced by: Steve Livingstone


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