7 On Your Side: Sidewalk contractor catastrophe

BLOOMFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- The Bloomfield homeowner has spent the last four years at war with an unlicensed contractor who she says did shoddy work then skipped.

Would you pay $14,000 for a crumbling sidewalk? Welcome to Zailoon Said's cracking, crumbling catastrophe.

Three years ago, the Bloomfield homeowner paid a contractor $14,000 for this substandard sidewalk that she says started breaking apart just months after installation. Zailoon said she found the contractor, "hanging around in Home Depot, and my sister hired him to do work."

That should've been red flag #1. Problem 2? A professional looking business card but missing critical information. There was no valid home improvement contractor license number which he should've had with the state. This contractor never had one. Zailoon was smart in that she paid in installments for the work.

But Red Flag #3, he wanted checks written where the payee line was left blank. And after being paid in full, she says his work started scaling and crumbling and the contractor was AWOL. Zailoon says the contractor also failed to obtain proper permits with her municipality.

In 2015, Zailoon took the contractor to court and won the judgment for $14,000.

"But he never got in contact with me or pay me the money," said Zailoon. "As a single mother I'm working very, very hard. I have two full time jobs."

So we went tracked down the contractor. The contractor's wife says her husband was willing to redo the work. We reminded her by law he can't, because he's unlicensed.

And after that visit, Zailoon finally got some good news.

"Only since I got 7 on my side, you made one phone call and he tell me he will come back, I talked to him personally," Zailoon said.

The contractor told 7 On Your Side he didn't have money to pay her judgment, but is now hiring a licensed contractor who will properly redo the work at no cost to her.

The big takeaway: Check that a contractor has a valid home improvement license with your state or municipality before going forward.

Next, check whether the contractor has valid business insurance. And last, get a proper contract that has the work that you want done spelled out, complete with a start and finish date.
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