Reliable builder wanted [revised]

Back in March we contracted with a local builder: Marcus McGarry, who does business as EcoExpress. He did part of the work, and we paid half the agreed amount. He then asked if he could have the remainder of the money up front, because the rest of the work would require expensive materials.

I had some misgivings, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Bad mistake. All progress stopped, and no amount of chasing him by phone or berating him in person seemed to be able to get him to actually do the work he had been paid to do.

After over six months of delays accompanied by increasingly thin excuses, on November 1st I set a final deadline in writing: complete the work by the end of the month, or refund the money paid for that work. I also called and left a message just in case the letter got lost.

No response. Finally, on the 30th, we managed to reach him by phone. On December 1st he returned the money. He was very apologetic, and said he had been swamped with work and couldn’t find anyone else to subcontract.

So, I’m looking for a builder in the Austin area who can actually do the work he’s paid to do; ideally someone with experience of weatherproof deck coating systems. Immediate payment on completion and an up-front deposit are not a problem.

And if anyone out there is considering hiring Marcus McGarry of EcoExpress, I can only recommend that you don’t pay him any significant amount until the work is completed in full. He seems like a nice guy, but he’s just terrible about deadlines.