Cicero, NY – Andy Keegan and Kristen Kopf, the two North Syracuse middle college new music instructors, sank almost $200,000 into their “forever” household in Cicero.
Multiple renovations had remodeled a modest 1940s ranch on Button Road into a 2,500-sq.-foot aspiration house with a music studio, sun porch, up to date kitchen and redone bathrooms.
In 2015, they experienced just one extra desire: changing a sealed-off chimney with a photograph window. It was meant to expense $6,000.
But a spiraling sequence of gatherings still left the lifelong educators with an unbelievable outcome: the bulk of their freshly renovated residence demolished, changed by a 15-foot, drinking water-crammed gap so perilous it was condemned by the town of Cicero.
To make things even worse, Keegan, 48, and Kopf, 53, put in $115,000 on the disastrous renovation, were being left homeless for months and had substantial debts submitted from them in court.
Kopf had to declare personal bankruptcy to pay back off the credit card debt – she won’t be cost-free and crystal clear for a further year.
“We’re just commencing to get our life again jointly,” Keegan stated not long ago.
Who’s to blame for turning their goals upside down?
Infamous Kirkville contractor – and since-convicted felon — Daniel Mace, according to Keegan.
Mace’s deceit eventually caught up to him, but not until eventually several years afterwards: he was charged and convicted of felony grand larceny in 2019 after swindling six owners out of far more than $100,000. Occasionally, he by no means even confirmed up to operate. The state Legal professional Standard has considering the fact that taken Mace to civil courtroom, receiving a choose to check Mace’s actions heading forward.
Similar: CNY contractor who swindled $100,000 can only operate in future under judge’s watchful eye
The prison prosecution all played out decades right after authorities shut an investigation into Mace’s get the job done on the songs teachers’ home, citing absence of evidence.
Mace’s law firm did not react to a request for remark for this short article. But Mace has earlier cast himself as the target, saying the spouse and children did not pay him plenty of.
The largest hurdle to pursuing Mace in the Cicero situation, in accordance to prosecutors? Keegan and Kopf experienced paid Mace $85,000 in straight dollars. There was no paper path showing what Mace did with the funds.
“We have been really trusting folks,” Keegan claimed.
Without a doubt, texts exchanged concerning Mace and the family show a heat partnership that soured within just months in late 2015 as complications mounted, costs skyrocketed and get the job done floor to a halt.
At some point, Mace walked off the work in late December 2015 soon after a shouting match with Keegan. When confronted by authorities, Mace blamed the loved ones for not shelling out him enough to finish what turned into significant undertaking.
But the project foreman, Brad Whidby, advised law enforcement that he believed the relatives had paid out Mace way too substantially. He give up performing for Mace following starting to be suspicious about how the money was being utilised. By that position, Mace had slice the foreman’s income by a lot more than 50 %, professing he was managing out of money.
“Things just did not incorporate up,” Whidby told Syracuse.com 5/8 The Publish-Conventional, echoing what he’d told deputies at the time. “Dan surely experienced the money to make issues right for those men and women.”
To this day, the couple’s former property is a grassy whole lot on a residential corner. A neighbor purchased their good deal from the bank for $30,000 for storage in their two-vehicle garage – just about all which is left of their aged dwelling.
Keegan and Kopf, who met whilst educating in the North Syracuse district, have since acquired a new home. But their financial debt has stored them from getting prepared vacations and they’ve only not too long ago stopped dwelling paycheck to paycheck.
So what took place?
It all commenced with a simple plan: take down an aged chimney and put in a window.
Kopf experienced lived in the property for a long time. The audio teacher of 28 several years experienced extended in the past compensated off the residence. She’d expanded it and up-to-date it.
In 2010 and 2011, she and Keegan compensated a different contractor almost $200,000 to redo the house’s inside. They have been pleased.
Since the chimney task was so considerably smaller, they took a probability on Mace. He promised them that no a single would do the do the job cheaper.
But the project was beset by problems from the begin. Although inspecting the roof line about the chimney, Mace observed there were holes in the plywood below the shingles: it required a new roof.
The householders agreed, and compensated Mace $25,000 dollars to do a comprehensive teardown and replacement. In just days, that job was completed.
But even bigger issues loomed: the sill joists – big beams that keep up the property off the basis – were being rotted. The siding was, also.
Mace experienced a option: jack up the property and deal with them. But when he did, he found out that all of the sill joists ended up rotten and there was mildew on them.
Keegan and Kopf made the decision to go the massive route: tear down the initial portion of the home, with its rotten beams, and build all around.
They signed a new deal for a whopping $125,000, which bundled the income by now paid.
For that, Mace promised to tear down the bulk of the property and rebuild it on its present footprint. That would include things like tearing down the family’s sparking kitchen area with granite counter tops, two renovated loos, a eating home and a spare bedroom.
It also provided demolishing a large chunk of the new, $25,000 roof they’d just installed.
Right after eradicating all of the cabinetry, countertops and home furnishings they could, Mace’s personnel knocked down the rotten portion of the residence.
The demolition left a gaping gap in the floor, approximately 40 toes by 40 toes. Only a tarp blocked the components from the remaining portion of the home.
Keegan and Kopf moved out of their residence to stay with mates as the renovation-turned-rebuild ongoing. Minor did they know that they would never ever stay in their dream residence again.
Following the tear-down, even more substantial issues emerged.
The demolition destabilized the basis on the remaining part of the residence, which included a family area and the learn bedroom. Also, there was hurt to the remaining roof triggered by the tear-down.
The entrepreneurs created a different determination: demolish another 12 toes of remaining property, like part of a household place and their grasp bedroom. The contract was rewritten all over again, this time for $175,000.
But there was one particular past trouble, which is what eventually doomed the venture.
The hole wherever their property utilised to be had loaded, on its own, with several toes of water. A pump and fuel-powered generator ended up introduced in to obvious out the gap.
Finally, staff found an deserted effectively at the base. It was constantly pushing drinking water into the basis spot. That is why the sill joists experienced been rotten to begin with.
All perform had to cease right up until the floor could be dried out completely. Employees attempted to cap the perfectly, with very little luck.
As the undertaking grew to become additional and far more advanced, Mace began displaying up to get the job done significantly less and a lot less, Keegan said.
By this level, the couple had compensated Mace roughly $115,000 – like $85,000 in dollars.
The catastrophe arrived to a head two days ahead of Xmas in 2015, when Mace and Keegan experienced a heated argument at the website.
Keegan and Kopf demanded to know how all of their revenue to that place had been used. Mace explained he couldn’t preserve likely without having far more revenue.
Right after the argument, Mace stopped operating all jointly.
Times later, a structural engineer considered the household unsalvageable. The couple’s law firm despatched Mace a letter purchasing him to prevent work. There was a battle in excess of finding all of the possessions out of storage: Mace demanded extra revenue, but ultimately was pressured to return every little thing he could locate.
In the end, Mace slapped the house owners with a mechanic’s lien of $46,000. The city requested the gap be filled in for basic safety. Keegan and Kopf scrambled to obtain a new position to dwell, having financial loans from their retirement and wracking up large credit card costs, Keegan reported.
Eventually, they identified a builder who worked with them to get into a tidy property around Bridgeport. They were being permitted to provide much of their salvaged cabinetry from the aged residence.
Kopf – who was the sole operator of the aged property – declared individual bankruptcy to construction her personal debt into workable payments. Keegan was in a position to get a home finance loan on the new house underneath his title. The financial institution took possession of their previous dwelling, offering it to a neighbor for $30,000.
All told, they lost their eternally house and its $200,000 in new renovations, in addition around $115,000 to Mace and another $200,000 (in addition 4% property finance loan fascination around 30 a long time) for their new household, Keegan reported.
And it all begun around “just placing a major fricking window in,” Keegan famous.
In the close, Keegan claimed the ordeal won’t maintain the pair from retiring in the upcoming few a long time. And their programs for a excursion to Paris to celebrate their 10th marriage ceremony anniversary had been scrapped by the pandemic, anyway.
But most likely the most important influence is significantly deeper than dollars and cents.
“We’re not as trusting any longer, we can notify you that,” Keegan stated.
Employees writer Douglass Dowty can be reached at [email protected] or 315-470-6070.