CAPE CORAL, Fla. – An investigation into a contractor found he had been cited more than a dozen times by code enforcement officials, and he is still holding onto a woman’s down payment without being able to get the job done.
Back in January, Cape Coral retiree Rita Fittro asked Zlatan “Goldy” Krekic of “Croat Pavers of Florida” for an estimate to pave her driveway. While there, Fittro said Krekic also gave her an estimate for a new pool and pool cage. Fittro said Krekic offered to do the entire job for $54,900.
“We spent about three hours with them [Krekic] and we felt very comfortable. He was very knowledgeable about you know what he was doing and proceeded to tell us that he had just opened a showroom … you know basically portrayed himself as being a very successful company,” said Fittro.
She also said she and her husband got to look at some of Krekic’s finished work.
“He [Krekic] took us to places that we could not imagine. He had the McGregor Lane, this home was a multimillion dollar home, he had the key — you know, the code to the gate,” she recalled. “We went in, looked at the work.”
And Fittro said she also checked out his website and looked at his business on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Nothing stood out as a reason for the Fittros not to hire Krekic.
What the Fittros didn’t know was that Krekic was known to local code enforcement officers. He has been cited 13 times by city or county officers for various code violations including multiple citations for working without a valid contracting license.
Because Krekic himself is not licensed by the state to do any type of construction work, including paving, he has had to hire someone else with a license to work with him. In June, the relationship with his licensed employee ended, meaning Rita would not be able to get her pool started.
“One delay after another, you know through the whole period of time,” Fittro explained.
Sick of getting the run-around, Fittro cancelled her contract with Croat Pavers and asked Krekic for her $10,980 down payment back in August. By Oct. 10, she still has not gotten her money back.
“He was a very deceptive person,” she said. “He comes in and says that he can do things that he’s actually not qualified legally to do.”
Over the phone with WINK News reporter Lindsey Sablan, Krekic did admit that he did not have license to do the work, but he said he was trying to get a license and start a new business. He would not say the new business’s name or how he was going to get a license.
Krekic also said would be refunding Fittro her money within seven days. But at the time this story was published he had missed that deadline.
Finally, Krekic admitted to filing a “notice of commencement” form under a different business’ name without the owner’s permission. WINK News contacted that business, and the owner said Krekic did not have his permission to use his name but he did not plan to file any charges.
Florida can be a retirement dream or a retirement nightmare if you don’t know how to properly background check people you pay to fix-up your home.
“Food, drinks, family and fun. That’s what we’re looking forward to doing,” Fittro said as she stood on her lanai overlooking a pool construction project that had just begun in her back yard.
If you would have asked her a month ago about her full-time retirement home, she may not have been as optimistic. But she is finally getting her dream pool in the back of her dream home from a company she has fully vetted and trusts.
However, to get to this point, Fittro went through a lot of hassle and lost nearly $11,000.
“It just makes me sad to know that our retirement — that we’ve lost that kind of money. It’s money that we could do other things with and you know it’s just heartbreaking to lose that kind of money,” Fittro explained. “It’s heartbreaking to lose any money when you worked hard.”
Fittro hopes her story will help others looking to hire contractors avoid the same headaches she encountered.
“I would suggest that they make themselves familiar with the laws in Florida and make sure that they do a background check.”
To see if a contractor you are thinking of hiring is licensed to do the work, check with your local municipality’s code enforcement office or the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
So, who needs a license to do work in the county? Click here.
–Hire someone licensed, insured and bonded. (Ask to see those documents.)
–Never pay in full up front. (Some contractors require a deposit. Try not to pay more than 10 percent)
–Don’t pay in cash. (Try to use a credit card. That way if something goes wrong, you can dispute the charge.)
–Don’t hand over the final payment until the final inspection by the city/county.