The Hartwell Group / Lawrence Hartwell Racies
This is a long post, but I feel if you’re considering to use The Hartwell Group or Larry Racies in Deland, Florida for any kind of home remodeling, the five minutes spent in reading this might provide some valuable information as I had an unfortunate experience with this guy. Like the previous poster described, I also found out too late before the real Larry Racies showed his true identity. I hired his company, The Hartwell Group, a group of one mind you, to perform some residential remodeling as well and was nothing short of a complete disaster!
Don't be fooled by this guy. Larry Racies comes off as a genuine person, a man of god, and having a family of six kids looking to make an honest living. His emails often include at the bottom a picture of his family, portraying a loving and hardworking family. It’s hard not to trust him or feel sorry for him after he comes to your house to give you a 2 hour dissertation of his work in a shirt and tie. He often tries to establish a personal relationship with you by asking questions such as “So, how was your day today?” or “How was your weekend?” so you feel comfortable in awarding him the contract. You agree in writing to start the job and it slowly starts to derail about a week into the project as you start to notice work being done incorrectly or out of order. Once the conflicts start happening - which always does in the construction industry - or if something doesn't go his way, or he feels like he's not in control of the situation; he's the first one to scrutinize the job to find a loophole to cry breach of contract while pointing to you. Once this happens, he takes the liberty in abandoning the project, failing to refund the money you allocated for materials at the start of the job, and never hearing back from him again. He has done this for years to people, hoping they’ll just write it off as a bad experience, and not pursue litigation.
I urge you, be careful and do your research before you hire a 'licensed' contractor. Check the online government records with Volusia County, Orange County, and other Central Florida municipalities before you sign a contract with him or anyone. After finding out too late, The Hartwell Group cost me more time and money than what was allocated in my budget.
I suggest sticking with a Home Depot or Lowes subcontractor. Granted if might be more expensive, but they're reputable companies with integrity and the customer typically has more leverage than if using a guy who makes a living doing odd jobs. Furthermore, if there are any issues along the way which you can't work out with the installer, it's much easier to remedy the situation with a District Manager than it is with a judge.