West Des Moines Realtor Out $53,000, Plans to Sue Contractor

Joshua Auten (WHO-HD)

WEST DES MOINES , Iowa -- A West Des Moines woman says she's out thousands of dollars after a contractor she hired did not finish the project they agreed upon.

Court documents show the contractor has been sued several times in similar situations

Jill Bassman, a realtor, says she paid $53,000 up front and fears her planned RV storage facility may never be finished.

“The cost of the building was $105,000 and that was a turnkey bid, so that included the concrete, the building, everything,” said Bassman

Bassman says she hired Joshua Auten, the owner of Over the Top Construction, to do the work in August of 2017.

After paying half of the cost to Auten, Bassman says hardly any work was completed.

“It was just one excuse after another why he couldn't start the project, the biggest reason is that he said he couldn't get his concrete guy out there,” said Bassman.

So Bassman says she had her own concrete person pour the slab.

Auten declined an on-camera interview. but tells us he removed rocks and graded the site.  Bassman acknowledges that. However, no further work has been done.

Auten also says he's planning to file for bankruptcy because of a poor construction season and problems with clients not paying him for completed projects. Auten says he wants to make it right with Bassman by either paying her back when he has the money or working for free if she provides the rest of the materials.

“I hope he does, but still, he’s done this to so many other people,” said Bassman.

Auten and his prior company, Big Time Builders, have been successfully sued five times for everything from not completing projects, to not paying construction wholesalers for materials he ordered. Those judgments added up to $150,000.  Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office has nine official complaints filed against Auten with clients alleging he failed to do the work after being paid up front or doing unsatisfactory work and not fixing it.

The contract Bassman signed does not have an estimated completion date, however, Bassman says she plans to sue to try to recoup some of her money.

A check of the Better Business Bureau also shows Auten's company has an "F" rating.