Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office announced on Tuesday that home improvement contractor Richard Capachione is banned from owning or managing construction companies in the state and is to pay $150,000 in restitution.
As part of the settlement, the Suffolk Superior Court ordered the dissolution of the three home improvement companies owned by Capachione. Namely, New England Hardscapes Inc., Aqua Outdoor Environments and R and R Consulting LLC.
The AG’s office alleges that for years, Capachione, through his three companies, collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in consumer deposits and periodic payments for home improvement projects across the state that were either never started or abandoned mid-way through, leaving several properties damaged and in dangerous and unsanitary conditions.
“Remodeling a home can be a massive, expensive effort, and it is devastating when properties are left in worse condition than they started, with money spent on unfinished work,” said Healey. “This settlement returns thousands of dollars to Massachusetts homeowners who were taken advantage of by this contractor’s deceptive practices.”
Since 2013, Capachione’s businesses have been providing construction services in Massachusetts, specifically, the installation and construction of swimming pools and pool decks, outdoor living spaces and retaining walls.
“Capachione would then engage in a pattern of delays and excuses, ultimately failing to perform the renovations or deliver the materials he was paid to produce or procure,” said the statement from the AG’s office. “Despite Capachione and his businesses being financially unstable, he continued to solicit new business, enter into new agreements, and accept new deposits from consumers.”
After receiving various complaints and allegations from former customers of Capachione’s, Healey’s office began its investigation in 2019.
According to Healey’s office, Capachione would enter into written agreements with new customers that lacked the necessary disclosures required by the law. The AG’s office stated that this included the contractor’s registration number, a detailed description of the work to be done, and the date when the project was scheduled to begin and be substantially completed.
The AG’s office offers the following guidance to those who are considering hiring a home improvement contractor:
- Shop wisely and do research. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations about contractors they have used and trust and always ask contractors for references. Check to make sure your contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which will allow you to check any complaint history.
- Solicitations. Be extra cautious if a contractor solicits business by the phone or by knocking on the door.
- Get it in writing. Make sure you obtain a written contract or price estimate that details the job that will be done. For more complex projects, ask for an itemized estimate.
- Permits. Your registered home improvement contractor should get any building permits required by your city or town. If you pull the permits yourself, you hurt your ability to recover if something goes wrong.
- Upfront fees. Be wary of contractors who demand the full price of the work up front. For most home improvement projects that exceed $1,000, consumers cannot be required to make a deposit of more than one-third of the project price in advance, except for orders of custom-made materials.
Contact the AG’s Office’s consumer assistance hotline with questions 617-727-8400 or file a complaint online.