Contractor who swindled homeowners fined by state

Victims tell I-TEAM more than $80,000 taken

Sid Baskin
Sid Baskin

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local building contractor who was the subject of an I-TEAM investigation last July has been fined by the state agency that regulates his businesses. 

Sid Baskin owns BHI construction in Jacksonville and has also sold windows under the company name Custom Windows USA. News4Jax learned that in addition to a fine, Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board has placed his license on probation for two years and ordered him to appear before the board every six months during the probationary period.

The board handed down the punishment after a San Marco homeowner, Susan Setser, complained to the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. She paid Baskin $42,000 to renovate her home and replace the windows but said he never finished the work.

When Setser called the I-TEAM for help, Baskin refused to answer our questions about why he did not finish the construction and if he would return the money she paid. The State Attorney’s Office started an investigation as a result of the News4Jax story and Baskin agreed to return $12,500 to Setser a few weeks later.

According to the final action report released by the Construction Industry Licensing Board, Baskin will be expected to answer questions under oath during the board meetings and could be required to present information or documentation related to his construction business.

If he fails to attend the required meetings, the probationary period will be extended by six months.  If he violates the appearance order three times, his license to practice contracting will be suspended.

Protect yourself when hiring home improvement contractors

Tom Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida, suggests you always Google a person or company's name. If Setser had done this, she could have found a notice from the BBB explaining Baskin's companies are not accredited members of the organization.

It's important not to assume that an advertisement has been vetted by a publisher or home magazine.

Three additional steps you can take to protect yourself when hiring a company or contractor:

  • Search the Department of Business and Professional Regulation's website to confirm the person or business has a valid license and to check if any complaints have been filed. 
  • Most remodeling work requires a permit. Call the county where you live to confirm that the contractor or business performing the work has pulled the appropriate permits.
  • To search any criminal or civil cases against a person or business most counties, like Duval and St. Johns, have an online portal giving the public access to claims or charges that have been filed.
  • The I-TEAM wants to hear from you. If you know of any contractors who you think are ripping people off, email us at  ITEAM@news4jax.com or call 479-NEWS. 

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