Quispamsis homeowners out thousands after hiring same roofing contractor
Valley Roofing accepted deposits of thousands of dollars without carrying out any work
Nauwigewauk resident Peter Bourque wants to warn others about a roofing contractor in the Saint John area who has insisted on deposits from homeowners, then not done the work.
Bourque said he lost $3,000 after Valley Roofing of Quispamsis didn't do promised work and now can't even be found.
Bourque went to Valley Roofing on the recommendation of a friend, who had hired the contractor before. Bourque said he didn't think twice when the owner, Craig Schulz, requested a deposit before starting work on the roof.
The work was expected to begin on Sept. 20 but was delayed because of rain.
Before long, it became obvious the work wouldn't be happening any time soon, Bourque said.
"It was a constant series of excuses. Finally, after a while, he said, 'Listen, if I can't get there, I'll just give you your money back.'"
The deposit was never returned, however, so Bourque went to small claims court, where his case has not yet been decided.
"I can't reach him," Bourque said of Schulz. "I've showed up at his house, I've emailed, texted, left voicemails, and no response."
Bourque isn't the only homeowner in the Saint John suburb who has lost money to Schulz and his company.
Two others who've resorted to small claims court since September said they've gone through the same ordeal in the past year.
Bourque connected with several residents after sharing a post on Facebook warning neighbours about the company. In each case, the company failed to carry out the work after accepting deposits in the thousands of dollars.
'He was quite convincing'
Ryan Mclean of Quispamsis said he lost $5,500, the deposit the homeowner put down for a new roof from Schulz in mid-June.
"At that time, he said he was gathering the shingles. He was quite convincing," Mclean said. "I didn't suspect anything because he had done work for my brother before."
McLean has filed a case in small claims court against the contractor.
If a contractor needs the money up front to pay for materials, it means his cash flow is very low, and that would be another red flag.- Ron Hutton, New Brunswick Roofing Contractors Association
He has also asked Sheriff Services for help serving Schulz the claim documents, but the regional office wasn't able to locate him either.
"They actually found his last address, but they said it looks like the place has been empty for a while," Mclean said.
Hampton RCMP said an investigation into Schulz is underway.
CBC News tried to reach Schulz through the email and phone number listed with his company but was not able to make contact.
Valley Roofing owner sued for $16,000
Court records show that claims against the contractor have been filed before, and he's been difficult to locate.
Last year, the small claims court in Saint John ordered Schulz to pay $16,800 to the owners of a rental property after he carried out faulty workmanship on one of their roofs — an amount he has yet to pay.
Luke Mosher and Joshua Innis paid Schulz more than $12,000 after signing a contract for the work in July 2018, according to their claim.
Immediately after construction was completed, the owners discovered several leaks in the roof that were causing water damage in several areas of the home, the claim said.
They tried without success to get the contractor to do the repairs, the claim said. This was despite a contract signed with the company ensuring any additional repairs needed on the roof would come at no additional cost to the homeowners.
As a result, the roof had to be completely removed and replaced by another company.
The costs ordered by the court cover the cost of repairs carried out to prevent further water damage and the replacement of the roof, according to the court's decision on Jan. 14, 2020.
Schulz also did not attend the hearing that day.
The contractor was ordered to appear in small claims court for an examination of his assets last Thursday but didn't attend. Three prior appearances had to be cancelled because of delays caused by the pandemic or difficulties locating Schulz to serve him.
Trust your gut, roofing group says
There are several steps homeowners can take to avoid losing out to unreliable contractors, said Ron Hutton, the executive director of the New Brunswick Roofing Contractors Association. He often hears from homeowners who ask whether it's wise to provide deposits.
"You shouldn't pay until the job is done," Hutton said. "If a contractor needs the money up front to pay for materials, it means his cash flow is very low, and that would be another red flag.
"If they're looking for money to buy materials then I would say 'I'll buy the materials, you tell me the quantity and I'll have it delivered to my home.' That way you've got the materials under your finger and you've paid for it, so that any contractor can use it at that time if this contractor for some reason doesn't work out."
He encouraged getting references from past clients and ensuring contractors have liability insurance and certification from WorkSafeNB.
Hutton also recommended homeowners reach out to the police in such situations. If enough residents have trouble with the same company, it's possible a criminal charges can be laid, he said.