Group of home and business owners warning about bad contractor

In Texas, general contractors are not required to have a license in order to operate.

A group of home and business owners is sounding the alarm on what they call a scamming contractor.

“He gave us a contract. We signed that. We gave him 60% of it,” Sarah Winchester said.

It’s the same story over and over again.

“Signed the contract and gave him 60%,” Andi Stevenson said.

“He had required 60% up front,” Lauren Palladini said.

Each time, it ended in the same disappointing way.

“Everything that has come out of his mouth has been a lie to us,” Palladini said.

“He is not responding to any calls, any texts, any emails,” Stevenson said.

“He voided the contract by walking out on us,” Winchester said.

Each of these women hired Kyle Deutsch as a general contractor.

Lauren Palladini signed her contract with Deutsch and his business, Deutsch Does It All, on May 1.

“We had been looking for a contractor to do some projects on our new build, just to make it a little more customized and whatnot,” Palladini said.

The contract included cabinetry, shelving, a custom-built cubby, and a mud bench.

The contract says work would start tentatively on May 15 and be completed on May 24.

“I sent my husband there on this lunch. He pulled out — it was $5,400,” Palladini said.

Palladini's unfinished bench (Copyright 2023 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

On May 23, Andi Stevenson signed a contract with Deutsch for a much larger project.

“I need new floors. I wanted the interior of my house painted, cabinets hung up, bathroom renovation, things like that,” she said.

“How much was that 60%?” reporter Leigh Waldman asked.

“Twenty-seven thousand dollars,” Stevenson answered.

Her work was supposed to be done tentatively on June 30.

“I did my due diligence. He provided insurance. He provided, you know, LLC paperwork,” she said.

Madelyn Enochs and Sarah Winchester trusted Deutsch to transform their new storefront into a chic salon in time for their opening week.

“You all hired him, signed the contract in early July? When was everything supposed to be completed?” Waldman asked.

“July 31 was the deadline that was stated in the contract,” Enochs answered.

It’s well past all their deadlines, and none of the work is complete.

“Dust everywhere, unfinished projects left and right,” Enochs said.

“He wouldn’t show me the cabinets, wouldn’t show me the receipts,” Palladini said.

“They tore out all my carpet. They tore off all the baseboards and doorjamb. They left the tac strips all on the floor,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson's exposed drywall (Copyright 2023 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)
Stevenson's exposed drywall (Copyright 2023 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)
Stevenson's unfinished floors (Copyright 2023 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)
Stevenson's unfinished floor (Copyright 2023 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

All three have failed to get their money refunded from Deutsch. They began posting about their experiences with him online and found others have gone through the same.

Several police reports have been filed in Bexar, Guadalupe, and Comal counties.

Palladini has filed with small claims court. However, she’s having trouble serving Deutsch with the lawsuit.

A quick online search showed Deutsch’s LLC was dissolved because of tax issues in June 2022.

“It’s not fair what he’s doing to people, and it’s wrong. And I’m, like — I’m determined to put an end to it,” Palladini said.

Deutsch provided insurance paperwork, but Steven said she called the insurance company, which confirmed the policy was canceled.

In Texas, general contractors aren’t required to have a license to operate.

“Finding a contractor that you can trust — it can be kind of difficult,” said Tom Scalisi, a former general contractor working in New York.

Scalisi hung up his tool belt and now writes articles about contracting. He has no connection to Deutsch or any of his clients.

Scalisi said doing research on your own before handing over any money is key. If you get insurance documents from the contractor, call the insurance immediately.

“Then if something happens, you know that you’ll at least be having some financial backing through their insurance company,” Scalisi said.

If the timeline for the job or the price you’re being offered is too good to be true, it probably is.

Enochs thinks state policies need to be changed to ensure contractors can be held accountable if they don’t do what they’re hired to, similar to California laws.

If contractors regularly break contracts, they can face fines, jail time, and may have their license revoked.

In Texas, you can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

“If it’s a contractor that just is fly by night and you can’t track them down, it can be really hard to complain to anybody and get any real resolution,” Scalisi said.

“People are just going to scam you. I mean, some people, it’s just in their nature. And I think that’s Kyle Deutsch,” Stevenson said.

KSAT Investigates tried calling Deutsch to discuss the claims against him, and we showed up at his last known address.

When he finally did reach out, Deutsch said in a phone call his lawyer would be handling things moving forward.

Waldman asked for his lawyer’s information, but Deutsch promptly hung up and stopped returning calls and texts.

Find more KSAT Investigates reports here

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.