The Massachusetts agency that oversees building contractors said it cannot take action based on the extensive results of an NBC10 investigation that detailed homeowners’ horror stories of giant holes in their backyards and broken promises.
Our investigation series “To Catch a Contractor” detailed Steve Docchio’s trail of the destruction by Massachusetts. The stories also indicated that the owner of Xtreme Living Pools & Construction also has a long history of criminal charges, civil judgments and consumer complaints in several New England states.
In the meantime, more and more homeowners are turning to us claiming that they have also fallen victim to Docchio.
“My garden looked like a war zone all summer,” says Stephen Vazza, who owns a house in Barnstable.
Vazza said he hired Docchio in July to do some upgrades to his existing pool and terrace, a project that should only take a few weeks.
However, five months later, Vazza showed us that the work is still not finished. At one end of the pool there is a debris-filled hole in which an automatic pool cover should have been installed.
Vazza said he wrote a check for $ 15,000 for the expensive item but kept getting excuses as to why it wasn’t delivered, according to text messages he shared with us.
The pool stayed empty through the summer. Vazza said he lost valuable time with his family, along with weeks of rental income while they were away.
“That puts a lot of stress on a marriage,” said Vazza. “This was an elective operation that turned out to be a nightmare.”
Vazza contacted us after discovering our investigation online and reading about all of the other homeowners who had shared their horror stories about Docchio.
We caught up with the contractor prior to appearing in a Rhode Island criminal court in October. In this case, he is charged with failing to repay a consumer $ 25,000 after abandoning a project in Portsmouth.
When asked about the money he owed consumers, Docchio only replied: “Wrong”.
He later pleaded not guilty in court and waived $ 30,000 bail.
PHOTOS: Projects Homeowners Say The Contractor Isn’t Finished
A few days later, Southborough Building Commissioner Laurie Livoli said Docchio was in her office complaining about a permit requirement for a project.
“He just wanted to be a little pushy,” recalls Livoli. “But I’ve been around long enough not to take it. It’s pretty black and white what we need. “
Later that week, Livoli was in front of the TV and saw Docchio star in our investigative series. Shocked, Livoli said she had a colleague contacting the Southborough homeowner who hired Docchio for a spa and decking project.
This homeowner told me the call allowed her to cancel a $ 20,000 payment just in time.
Although approval was not granted, Docchio had already dug holes and brought in supplies for the terrace and pool project.
“He’ll never get a permit here,” said Livoli. “He should probably be banned from working in Massachusetts. I wish his registration was revoked. Hopefully it will be after that. “
A popular online platform for consumers looking for building contractors has removed the page of a company that was exposed in an NBC10 investigation in Boston.
As previously reported, Docchio is not licensed as a contractor in Rhode Island or Connecticut.
In Massachusetts, however, he still holds an active Home-Improvement Contractors (HIC) registration.
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) investigated him twice – in 2017 and 2020. These cases resulted in fines of more than $ 5,000 and a 5-month suspension.
Despite all of the new horror stories we’ve reported, the state agency told us they can’t investigate unless a homeowner files a HIC complaint.
“OCABR has no investigation or law enforcement capabilities in the Commonwealth and can take action against a contractor who violates HIC law based on a consumer filing a complaint,” an agency spokesman said in a written statement. “Whenever a homeowner files a new complaint, OCABR will immediately hold a hearing and, if the allegations prove true, take appropriate action against the Commonwealth registration.”
At least eight homeowners we interviewed have already given their contact details and stated that they would like to complain to the state authorities.
Vazza said it wasn’t until he went to the Barnstable Police Department in November that Docchio provided evidence that his automatic pool cover had finally been ordered months after he wrote the check for $ 15,000.
Elsewhere in the Cape, another homeowner contacted the Sandwich Police Department last month about the pool cover he had not received. He told us that Docchio sent a refund of $ 15,000 a few days later.
NBC10 Boston investigators uncovered a contractor’s path of destruction across Massachusetts. Homeowners paid big bucks for pools and other home improvement projects, but were left with huge holes in their backyards and broken promises.
As we have already reported, the issue is on the radar of the state legislators, who chair the legislature’s consumer protection committee. You have requested a meeting with OCABR to discuss possible changes that can be made to avoid future nightmare scenarios.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is investigating the situation. A spokeswoman said her office had received a total of 18 consumer complaints, including 10 this year.
“With so many people standing up and telling their stories, I would think the lights would go out,” said Vazza. “I can’t really process how a guy like him can be banned in two neighboring states, but still walk around Massachusetts cheating people out of their hard-earned money.”