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Clients say West Michigan contractor charged thousands of dollars, didn’t finish work

Posted at 11:12 PM, Sep 17, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning involving a West Michigan contractor.

Several people have filed complaints saying they're out thousands of dollars and left with unfinished roof work.  At least one customer claims he was charged additional fees he wasn’t expecting.

Ken Bird Roofing has left nearly a dozen people with a hole in their pockets and nothing to show for it.

“He had his guys start the roof, and they totally destroyed it,” said Rick Schell, one of the company's customers.

A pile of scrap from the job that still sits in Schell’s yard after nearly a year of promises from the company the work would be finished.

“Everybody is sick of this stuff,” said Schell.

Schell's receipt from August 2013 shows a $3,200 down payment he gave to Bird. The amount was for half of the total cost for the roof job. “He’s stealing money from people and not using the funds appropriately, and it’s a criminal act at this point,” said Schell.

Nearly a year later Schell says Ken Bird came to his house and agreed it wasn’t done well.  “He acknowledged it was a bad job and said he was going to come out himself, and he kept promising me Monday after Monday after Monday, and that went on for months."

Schell had no choice but to eat the $3,200 and pay an additional $4,000 for a different roofing company to fix the mess that was left behind.

“I had a leak. I had no choice. I had to protect my home,” he said.

Schell wasn’t the only one unhappy with Ken Bird’s services.

“We better take a little deeper look into Ken Bird roofing and we are noticing complaints happening,” said Better Business Bureau President, Phil Catlett.

The Better Business Bureau started contacting Bird at the beginning of the summer, but he couldn’t be found.

“When we attempted to contact Ken Bird via phone, via email, via letter we weren’t getting any kind of response and that was indicative that we had to do something kind of quickly and warn the public,” said Catlett.

The BBB gave Bird an F grade,took away his accreditation with the BBB, and expects him to make good with the customers he wronged. He’s still allowed to contract unless the state takes away his license.

Schell did not expect to get his $3200 back, he certainly did not expect a lien to be put on his house by Wimsatt Building Material Corp, Ken Bird’s supplier. The letter Schell received asks for the homeowner to pay the dollar amount of supplies that Ken Bird bought for the job that was never finished.

“He’s the one buying the material from them, they are the ones that gave him credit, so why are they coming back on us poor homeowners? We got blindsided,” said Schell.

However, according to Michigan law, it’s all legal.

“A lien was placed, and this homeowner told us they fully paid for Ken’s work, but Ken didn’t pay the supplier for the materials," said Catlett. "And by our state laws, the supplier is allowed to put a construction lien on the property. It puts the homeowner in an interesting position, because they paid fully, and it doesn’t seem fair. Nonetheless they have to get into the legal system to fight this thing out."

Schell says the materials that Wimsatt claims Bird used for Schell's roof are not matching up. He has hired an attorney and written a letter to the company on August 22 saying the lien is invalid.  Wimsatt has not responded to the letter.

Schell is uncertain. “I hired a lawyer because I want to be protected. Are there any more invoices out there that Ken Bird charged to me that I don’t know about? In another month, am I going to get another thing from Wimsatt as far as a lien?”

Wimsatt declined to make any comment to FOX 17. Schell hopes that this “wild west” of a contracting nightmare doesn’t happen to the next person.

“I couldn’t understand why they are doing this? Why wouldn’t you go after Ken Bird?”

Schell is in the process of contacting a licensing representative from the state about this issue and has accumulated about $7,500 in costs since Ken Bird touched his roof. The new company Schell choose to finish his roof only took two and a half days to finish it.

As for Ken Bird, our attempts to contact him as of Wednesday night have not been successful.

As for Ken Bird, although he did not reply to our request for comment, he released a full statement on his Facebook page.

“Unfortunately and apologetically, I am not in a position to return half downs, but I am in a position to complete the work. The reason being my supplier willing to extend me one job at a time until these roofs are complete. I will then be able to issue a waiver of lien as soon as the project is started or before finished for the material.”

You can view the full statementhere.