MUSKEGON, Mich. — A Muskegon couple who paid tens of thousands of dollars to a family member to renovate their home now wants at least part of the money back after an inspection found “substandard work” that poses safety hazards and requires additional repairs.
In December, Allison Johnson and her boyfriend, Jacob Kiel, hired her uncle, Patrick Pastor, to renovate Jacob’s house.
Pastor owns Pastors Property Services LLC. According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Pastor is a licensed residential builder.
“With the housing market the way it is, we wanted to remodel, sell, [and] get a forever home for us, the kids, the dogs, all of us,” said Johnson.
Kiel did not do an on-camera interview, but was present when FOX 17 spoke to Johnson and attested to the experience.
Johnson said when they began their search for a contractor, they became nervous about who to hire, so she proposed a solution.
“I’m like, ‘Hey! My uncle does construction. Let me see if he has availability and what his idea is for the project,’” said Johnson.
Johnson said Pastor quoted a fair price, so they decided to move forward.
According to documents reviewed by FOX 17, Kiel paid Pastor $36,000. In signed contracts, the money covered a kitchen, bathroom, and main floor remodel, as well as upgraded electrical work.
“I liked the fact that I could have him in my house, around my children, around my family, my dogs, and I could leave and feel comfortable safety-wise,” said Johnson. “I also really felt like knowing someone that close ... the job would be done right.”
Pastor started work on the bathroom first according to Johnson. She says shortly after, she noticed issues.
“We found a crack,” said Johnson. “I said, ‘Ok, we can still use the bathroom. When he gets around to it, he’ll take care of it.’ Well, the result to that was putting a whole bunch of caulk on it. It’s not smooth. It’s rubbery. It looks worse than the crack.”
She added as Pastor made his way through the house, the issues continued.
When FOX 17 toured the home, some of the questionable work included a backsplash-covered counter in the kitchen. On the wall, the backsplash had substandard grouting and was not level. The sink in the kitchen was off-center from the window in which it was supposed to sit under.
There were problems with door trims and baseboards as well as incorrect plumping traps underneath the home’s sinks.
“I feel bad and I don’t want to critique his work, but at the same time, I want it done right,” said Johnson.
Johnson claims when she tried to discuss her and her boyfriend’s concerns, she only received excuses from Pastor until they received a letter from him around the end of February.
In it, Pastor writes, “This contract has no interest any doing anymore projects on the above property.”
He goes on to say he completed each project outlined in the contracts, adding, “Homeowner may have issues with items that are installed, but they agreed to let contractor do what he wanted. Contractor does not have to make changes based on what a painter, realtors, and anyone else wants. He is only obligated to do what is agreed to in the contract and nothing more.”
None of the contracts reviewed by FOX 17 state anything about the project’s creative freedom belonging solely to Pastor.
In March, Johnson hired David Yontz, owner of Built-Right Home Inspection in Norton Shores.
Yontz, in a 24-page report, calls the work completed by Pastor “substandard.”
The report noted fire and shock hazards with the house’s electrical system. It recommends someone repair or replace parts of the home that Pastor worked on, including the kitchen, bathroom and other interior areas.
In an email, Yontz said, “Just because the builder has a license doesn’t always mean they … do quality work. My advice is never pay the full balance at the beginning of the project. Always take before and after photos of the work.”
Pastors declined an interview but sent a statement to FOX 17.
It reads in part:
“There is a contract with the property owner who is not the person you been speaking to. The contract states exactly what work will be performed. And what areas of the home are under contract. The false accusation of the tenant/ girlfriend of property owner has made that I am responsible for all problems at this home is a false accusation.
The property owner has agreed and signed the contract knowing exactly what would be done. A certified copy of a letter was sent to homeowner with options to solve what I am contractually obligated to finish and there has been no response.
Once again, I am only obligated to complete what is in a contract that is agreed to and signed by property owner. And any other blatantly lies and repeated false assertions will lead to legal action against those who make them.”
Johnson said she and her boyfriend have received that letter but have not replied to it because they are seeking legal representation.
According to the city of Muskegon, no permits were applied or pulled for the project.
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