Cicero, NY – Andy Keegan and Kristen Kopf, both equally North Syracuse center faculty music academics, sank just about $200,000 into their “forever” house in Cicero.
Multiple renovations experienced transformed a modest 1940s ranch on Button Road into a 2,500-sq.-foot dream residence with a music studio, sunshine porch, current kitchen and redone bogs.
In 2015, they experienced just one extra want: changing a sealed-off chimney with a image window. It was supposed to expense $6,000.
But a spiraling sequence of occasions left the lifelong educators with an unbelievable result: the bulk of their recently renovated home demolished, replaced by a 15-foot, drinking water-loaded hole so harmful it was condemned by the town of Cicero.
To make factors even worse, Keegan, 48, and Kopf, 53, expended $115,000 on the disastrous renovation, have been left homeless for months and had large money owed filed from them in court docket.
Kopf experienced to declare personal bankruptcy to spend off the credit card debt – she won’t be cost-free and apparent for an additional 12 months.
“We’re just beginning to get our lives again alongside one another,” Keegan mentioned just lately.
Who’s to blame for turning their desires upside down?
Notorious Kirkville contractor – and considering the fact that-convicted felon — Daniel Mace, according to Keegan.
Mace’s deceit ultimately caught up to him, but not right up until several years later on: he was billed and convicted of felony grand larceny in 2019 after swindling 6 house owners out of a lot more than $100,000. Often, he in no way even showed up to do the job. The condition Lawyer Standard has considering the fact that taken Mace to civil court, getting a decide to monitor Mace’s habits heading ahead.
Linked: CNY contractor who swindled $100,000 can only perform in foreseeable future beneath judge’s watchful eye
The prison prosecution all played out decades just after authorities closed an investigation into Mace’s perform on the songs teachers’ residence, citing absence of proof.
Mace’s law firm did not respond to a request for remark for this short article. But Mace has previously cast himself as the sufferer, claiming the family members did not pay him sufficient.
The major hurdle to pursuing Mace in the Cicero situation, according to prosecutors? Keegan and Kopf experienced compensated Mace $85,000 in straight income. There was no paper trail showing what Mace did with the dollars.
“We were pretty trusting men and women,” Keegan reported.
Indeed, texts exchanged among Mace and the family show a warm romance that soured within months in late 2015 as troubles mounted, expenditures skyrocketed and function floor to a halt.
Inevitably, Mace walked off the career in late December 2015 just after a shouting match with Keegan. When confronted by authorities, Mace blamed the loved ones for not shelling out him enough to complete what turned into enormous challenge.
But the job foreman, Brad Whidby, instructed law enforcement that he considered the household had paid out Mace also much. He give up doing the job for Mace just after becoming suspicious about how the cash was getting employed. By that level, Mace had slice the foreman’s income by extra than 50 percent, declaring he was managing out of income.
“Things just did not add up,” Whidby informed Syracuse.com 5/8 The Submit-Normal, echoing what he’d explained to deputies at the time. “Dan definitely had the funds to make things suitable for people men and women.”
To this day, the couple’s former assets is a grassy good deal on a household corner. A neighbor purchased their lot from the financial institution for $30,000 for storage in their two-auto garage – just about all that’s left of their previous house.
Keegan and Kopf, who satisfied even though instructing in the North Syracuse district, have given that purchased a new residence. But their credit card debt has held them from taking planned vacations and they’ve only not long ago stopped dwelling paycheck to paycheck.
So what took place?
It all started off with a uncomplicated plan: take down an previous chimney and put in a window.
Kopf had lived in the household for decades. The audio trainer of 28 a long time had extended ago compensated off the dwelling. She’d expanded it and up-to-date it.
In 2010 and 2011, she and Keegan paid out a distinctive contractor almost $200,000 to redo the house’s interior. They were being content.
Because the chimney challenge was so substantially more compact, they took a chance on Mace. He promised them that no one would do the function more affordable.
But the undertaking was beset by troubles from the commence. Although inspecting the roof line around the chimney, Mace observed there were being holes in the plywood less than the shingles: it required a new roof.
The home owners agreed, and paid out Mace $25,000 cash to do a total teardown and substitute. Within days, that project was finished.
But even greater troubles loomed: the sill joists – big beams that maintain up the house off the foundation – ended up rotted. The siding was, much too.
Mace experienced a solution: jack up the property and resolve them. But when he did, he learned that all of the sill joists have been rotten and there was mould on them.
Keegan and Kopf made a decision to go the huge route: tear down the initial part of the house, with its rotten beams, and build all around.
They signed a new agreement for a whopping $125,000, which included the funds currently compensated.
For that, Mace promised to tear down the bulk of the home and rebuild it on its present footprint. That would consist of tearing down the family’s sparking kitchen area with granite counter tops, two renovated loos, a eating room and a spare bed room.
It also integrated demolishing a significant chunk of the new, $25,000 roof they’d just set up.
Following eliminating all of the cabinetry, countertops and home furnishings they could, Mace’s workers knocked down the rotten part of the residence.
The demolition still left a gaping gap in the ground, around 40 ft by 40 feet. Only a tarp blocked the factors from the remaining portion of the home.
Keegan and Kopf moved out of their household to continue to be with good friends as the renovation-turned-rebuild ongoing. Minimal did they know that they would never are living in their desire property yet again.
Just after the tear-down, even larger issues emerged.
The demolition destabilized the basis on the remaining part of the dwelling, which bundled a spouse and children space and the learn bedroom. Also, there was harm to the remaining roof caused by the tear-down.
The homeowners made a different determination: demolish yet another 12 ft of remaining property, including section of a family members room and their learn bedroom. The deal was rewritten once more, this time for $175,000.
But there was one particular previous problem, which is what finally doomed the job.
The hole wherever their residence made use of to be had filled, on its own, with several feet of drinking water. A pump and fuel-driven generator ended up brought in to distinct out the hole.
Finally, employees uncovered an deserted very well at the base. It was continually pushing h2o into the foundation region. That is why the sill joists experienced been rotten to start with.
All operate had to halt until eventually the floor could be dried out completely. Workers experimented with to cap the properly, with minor luck.
As the undertaking turned more and a lot more intricate, Mace started off displaying up to function fewer and significantly less, Keegan mentioned.
By this position, the pair had paid out Mace around $115,000 – like $85,000 in cash.
The catastrophe came to a head two days ahead of Xmas in 2015, when Mace and Keegan experienced a heated argument at the web site.
Keegan and Kopf demanded to know how all of their revenue to that issue had been spent. Mace explained he could not preserve going without the need of more cash.
Just after the argument, Mace stopped doing work all alongside one another.
Times afterwards, a structural engineer deemed the residence unsalvageable. The couple’s law firm despatched Mace a letter ordering him to cease perform. There was a combat over receiving all of the belongings out of storage: Mace demanded additional money, but ultimately was compelled to return almost everything he could uncover.
In the close, Mace slapped the homeowners with a mechanic’s lien of $46,000. The town requested the hole be filled in for basic safety. Keegan and Kopf scrambled to uncover a new area to are living, using loans from their retirement and wracking up enormous credit rating card expenses, Keegan reported.
Sooner or later, they uncovered a builder who labored with them to get into a tidy property close to Bridgeport. They ended up permitted to bring much of their salvaged cabinetry from the outdated house.
Kopf – who was the sole owner of the aged household – declared bankruptcy to framework her personal debt into workable payments. Keegan was ready to get a mortgage on the new home less than his name. The bank took possession of their old house, advertising it to a neighbor for $30,000.
All informed, they missing their for good home and its $200,000 in current renovations, additionally around $115,000 to Mace and another $200,000 (in addition 4% house loan desire around 30 years) for their new house, Keegan stated.
And it all started off above “just putting a major fricking window in,” Keegan observed.
In the conclude, Keegan reported the ordeal won’t keep the pair from retiring in the following handful of several years. And their plans for a vacation to Paris to celebrate their 10th marriage ceremony anniversary were being scrapped by the pandemic, anyway.
But most likely the biggest influence is far further than pounds and cents.
“We’re not as trusting anymore, we can tell you that,” Keegan stated.
Personnel author Douglass Dowty can be attained at [email protected] or 315-470-6070.