What Victor Contreras sees in his backyard isn’t what he had in mind when he decided to build a pool.
“I’m very disappointed,” he told NBC 6 Responds. “This is the worst nightmare I ever had.”
He said seeing the unfinished pool, with dirty water, is difficult.
“It’s given me a lot of anger, frustration,” he said.
Those were emotions Sofia Valentini could relate to.
“It’s super frustrating,” she said as she looked at a massive hole in her backyard. “I can’t even enjoy my own backyard, you know, with my kids.”
Sofia said the opening has been in her backyard since December.
“It’s horrible,” she said. “It’s horrible, and we’re out $30,000.”
Both families signed contracts with Sunshine Pools and Contracting Group and gave the company tens of thousands of dollars for projects that months later, remained unfinished.
“We spent all the money that we have in this pool and this is what we have right now,” Victor said. “It’s awesome.”
Victor said he hired the company in October 2020 to build a 15-by-27-foot pool with a jacuzzi and a paved area. It was a project Victor said the owner of the company assured him would only take months to finish.
“He told us that the pool is going to be ready in six to eight months,” he said.
But the problems started six months later, Victor said.
“‘I say, I don’t want to think something wrong, but I don’t know, this guy is acting different right now,'” he recalled. “He didn’t answer the phone. He didn’t give me the dates that he’s supposed to come with the inspection.”
Still, Victor said they kept writing checks totaling over $50,000, hoping the company would finish the job.
Victor said November 2021 was the last time the company sent workers to his home.
“It’s hard to see that your house is in this condition,” he said.
Both Miami-Dade County and the Florida Attorney General’s Office told NBC 6 they’ve seen an uptick in swimming pool complaints.
Both have received several complaints related to Sunshine Pools and Contracting Group. The agencies said they have referred the complaints to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, also known as DBPR.
DBPR is the state agency that licenses pool contractors. DBPR told us it cannot provide “any information regarding any current or ongoing disciplinary proceeding of a licensee.”
NBC 6 Responds called several phone numbers we found for the company but each time got a recording saying the subscriber we had dialed was not available or had traveled outside the coverage area.
Our team emailed the company and stopped by its offices in southwest Miami-Dade, but no one came to the door.
The following day, the company’s registered agent, Joseph Valdes, included us in an email to a bankruptcy attorney, in which he said they “are currently in bankruptcy proceedings because prices of raw material labor have increased more than double and we are tied into contract which we cannot finish as the cost supersedes the price of the contract by 30% to 60% and have caused us to stop operating…”
“He abandoned it,” Victor said of the project. “He left me with nothing.”
Victor said he has filed several complaints against the company. He said he wants the job finished or his money back.
“That’s the money that we saved during years,” he said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen in a blink of the eye.”
If you’ve run into a problem with a pool project, you can file a complaint with DBPR. You can find a link to the complaint form here.
To read more about the state’s restitution fund and see if you qualify for help, click here.