UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. ( -- Cheryl Whalen says her home has turned into a maze after a contractor ripped things apart and disappeared.

“It’s been very stressful,” Whalen said.

She said her contractor, James Randel with Randel Home Repairs, disappeared after she paid for a remodel. She said she hasn't seen or heard from him in a month. 

“I just know that every instance when he said he was going to show up to start working on what needed to be completed he has not,” she said.  

Whalen battles Multiple Sclerosis and said she started prepping her family home to be sold after her father died in 2018.

“Basically I’ve been living in a state of disarray,” Whalen said.  

Whalen said she handed her contractor a list of more than 90 items that needed to be completed before she could sell the home. Some of the projects like installing new floors, kitchen cabinets and painting the walls have been completed. However, she said there are a number of items that have been left undone.

She has no deadbolt on her back door, her stairs don’t have banisters, she has exposed wiring and her bathroom isn’t finished. Whalen said she paid her contractor $63,000 for the repairs and she said this was money from her father’s life insurance policy.

News 4 went by her contractor’s home. He wouldn’t go into detail but told us this was all a mistake and he would work on completing Whalen’s projects.

BBB offers the following tips for consumers hiring a reputable contractor:

-Research any business and its owners carefully before paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at or by calling 888-996-3887.

-Ask for references and contact them.

-Before paying, make sure you have a signed contract outlining what work is to be done, a timetable for completion and an explanation of what happens if the business or consumer reneges on the agreement.

-Ask the contractor for proof that he or she is bonded and insured.

-Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment.

-Do not pay everything in advance. It is a good rule to pay a portion when you sign the contract and the final payment only after you are satisfied with the completed work.

-When work is completed and the contractor has been paid, make sure you have received lien waivers showing subcontractors and material suppliers have been paid for the job.

The Missouri Attorney General’s office said if consumers feel that they have been scammed or defrauded, the AG’s office urges you to file a complaint by contacting their Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or by heading to

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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