Massapequa homeowners out $300K because of contractor

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LINDENHURST -

A Massapequa woman says that after nearly five years and hundreds of thousands of dollars since Superstorm Sandy, her home is far from being repaired.

Sueli Schmitt says her contractor took nearly $300,000 in New York Rising funds and hasn't completed the work.

Schmitt and her husband, Tom Barrella, hired Thomas Hart, of the Hart Group in Lindenhurst, last July to raise the house and make a few upgrades. They say Hart told them he's an architect and that he'd complete the project in five months.

Barella and Schmitt say Hart is not a licensed architect and that he has turned out, they claim, to be a contractor from hell.

"What he did in my house was the worst workmanship possible and with the cheapest materials available in the market," Schmitt says.

The couple says they paid $285,000 in New York Rising money to Hart, and what they got in return is a house that they say looks like a disaster.

They say Hart did shoddy work with the sheetrock and left gaps inside the wall. They also say Hart failed to winterize the house - and pipes burst as a result.

"There's about 20 locations in the home where pipes burst, spraying water all over the place, so that set us back a lot," Barella says.

The couple says Hart also improperly installed the window doors. They also say his installation of the sprinkler system is flawed and that he failed to get the proper permits to do the work.

"He doesn't have the knowledge. He doesn't know what's wrong and what's right," Schmitt says.

The couple is not alone in their frustration with Hart. Maria Umland, of Babylon Village, says she also hired Hart to raise her house.

"When they elevated my home, they never replaced the wood underneath my house," she says. "The wood is all rotten."

The commissioner of Nassau Consumer Affairs says they're investigating at least two cases against Hart, and the agency also lodged a complaint

News 12 reached out to Hart for comment, but the person who answered hung up the phone.

An advocate who is working with Schmitt and Barella on their case says there are eight cases filed with consumer affairs in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and that number is expected to grow.

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