KNOXVILLE (WATE) – If you have ever tackled a home improvement job, you know how tough it can be. There are definitely some projects you can’t do on your own like replacing your roof. That’s work left to professionals. A local couple hired a professional roofer, or so they thought.
This roofing company just started business and didn’t even have a crew. Advertisements you see for contractors, like roofers, can be deceiving. Ads in the paper or on Craigslist don’t include a lot of details like how long the company has been in business, whether they’re licensed or insured or how many crews they have.
These are questions you need to know before hiring someone.
Judy Coll and her husband Fred put in a ton of time remodeling their kitchen last summer.
They installed a new gas stove, a new counter top and island that surrounds their kitchen and bought a new side by side refrigerator. They’re now working on updating their hallway.
Fred, a jack of all trades, is retired from the Navy. He and Judy put in a lot of sweat equity after buying this 57-year-old home a year ago.
“Our insurance man told us we need a roof,” said Fred.
When the home was inspected, the Colls were told it needed a new roof by the middle of October or it wouldn’t be insured.
They signed a contract in mid-September with Foothills Construction after seeing an ad in the paper.
“So I made the deposit, they were like, ‘We’ll be here in a week. We will just knock this thing out,'” said Fred.
They made a $2,500 down payment to Jan Postich of Foothills Construction. All roofers require a down payment.
Foothills Construction never showed up to do the roof. Fred and his wife spent two weeks ripping off old shingles and putting on new ones.
The Colls were proactive in contacting Foothills Construction, whose responses were pretty weak.
“We are waiting on our workers to arrive from out of town,” read one of their messages. “Haven’t forgotten you. Roofers we were going to hire took another job,” read another.
Dozens of broken promises were made throughout October. Fed up by November, the Colls demanded their money back.
They met with Postich who wrote a check for $25,000 on November 15.
“It says it’s a closed account,” said Judy. “It bounced like a rubber ball.”
The couple sent a certified letter in mid-December demanding Postich make good on her worthless check.
“I want to be done with this part of my life. It wasn’t supposed to a big deal,” said Fred.
WATE 6 On Your Side called Postich and left a message asking why the work was never done and why the check was bad.
She called back saying the company is out of business and the Colls have been her only customers, but she was unable to find workers to replace the couple’s roof. Postich, however, promised she’d return their money. That was before Christmas
The Colls say they have phone calls from Postich, but no money.
“[She said] that she was trying to get us a Visa card, gift cards going through PayPal,” said Judy.
“She’s talked about going bankruptcy. but don’t know what is going to go on with that,” said Fred.
“I do want my money back and I’d also like that she doesn’t rip anybody else off,” Judy added.
There are several ways of checking out roofing contractors. First is calling the Better Business Bureau. The BBB can give you information on a company’s viability.
The State Department of Commerce and Insurance has a list of licensed contractors. You want to make sure you hire a licensed, bonded and insured contractor.
Roofers do request money upfront, but not the whole amount.
If the Colls don’t get their money back, they plan to begin a procedure that could bring criminal theft charges against their contractor under a law passed in 2010 by the Tennessee legislatures targeting unscrupulous contractors.