(BOISE) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden today announced a settlement with Coeur d’Alene contractor Alexander Welstad and his company NAA Partners. The settlement revokes Welstad’s Idaho contractor registration and permanently prohibits him from advertising or providing construction services in the state.
“Within a four month period, my office received 17 complaints regarding Mr. Welstad’s business practices,” Wasden said. The complaints allege over $790,000 in consumer losses.
Welstad is the sole owner and operator of NAA Partners, which advertised as Mammoth Pole Builders in Idaho, Washington and Montana. According to Welstad’s advertising, he built quality pole barns and other buildings. Customers reported to the attorney general that Welstad accepted customers’ payments for construction services he never provided or provided only in part. Customers who received partially constructed buildings complained the buildings had material defects.
The settlement requires Welstad to pay restitution to affected consumers. Welstad, however, has informed the office that he plans to file bankruptcy. If he does, Welstad’s financial obligations under the settlement are subject to the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received an increasing number of complaints about contractors accepting large deposits for projects they never complete. Contractors tell customers their projects will be completed within a specified time and fail to meet those deadlines. Customers demand refunds of their deposits but rarely receive their money back. Some customers have liens placed against their property because contractors didn’t pay their subcontractors.
Wasden recommends that consumers do ample research before signing construction contracts or paying contractors money. Simply verifying a contractor is registered with the Board of Contractors may not be enough to adequately protect them in the marketplace. Consumers should:
• Get contractor referrals from friends and family.
• Read the contractor’s business profile on the BBB’s website, paying particular attention to any unresolved complaints and negative customer comments.
• Check with the Attorney General’s Office for complaints and enforcement actions involving the contractor.
• Read consumer comments posted online and on social media.
• Get multiple bids for projects.
• Understand what information a contractor must disclose under Idaho Code § 48-525.
• Verify the contractor has liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
• Obtain a surety bond to cover potential losses, along with extended title insurance and a lien waiver to prevent unwarranted liens.
• Use an escrow agent to disburse funds to the contractor as work is completed.
• Obtain a list of the subcontractors who provided goods and services for the project.
• Keep an eye on the project’s progress and the work being done.
The settlement imposes $55,000 in civil penalties and $2,000 in attorney’s fees if Welstad violates the settlement’s terms. Consumers who incurred losses because of Welstad’s construction practices may file consumer complaints with the Consumer Protection Division. A complaint form is available here or by calling 208-334-2424