Hours after a tornado ripped through north Minneapolis in May 2011, contractors swarmed the area, looking to pick up repair jobs. It turns out that the warnings about choosing a contractor carefully were justified: The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry recently revoked the licenses of two contractors after it said they took tornado victims’ money, performed shoddy work and failed to finish the repairs.
In all, the department took action against 104 contractors and unlicensed businesses in the first half of 2013, imposing fines, cease and desist orders, revocations, suspensions or conditions on their licenses. Twenty-five of those lost their licenses.
Following are the 10 contractors whose licenses were revoked and who incurred the highest penalties. I found the details on these cases in the department’s licensing orders.
Basement Savers Inc., Brent Allen Garden and Misty D. Garden, Duluth, $35,190 fine
Basement Savers failed to return a down payment when a customer died, even though no work had begun. It started another project without a contract and before a permit was issued. It had two civil judgments against it. The company took on at least two projects while its license was inactive.
Anderson Sorenson Homes Inc., Philip A. Anderson and David W. Sorenson, White Bear Lake, $34,000 fine
After the company failed to pay three subcontractors, the subs placed liens totaling $101,099 on the customer’s property. A subcontractor obtained a $5,468 judgment against the company. Anderson Sorenson also tried to deal with a debt by telling a subcontractor to bill a customer $2,500 for work that wasn’t done.
Jan Curtis Johnson, doing business as Alpha Exteriors and Construction, Maple Grove, $23,500 fine
In 2012, Alpha’s license was censured. Alpha later violated the order when it failed to appeal or satisfy three judgments totaling $8,614 that were awarded to subcontractors.
Knight Remodeling LLC, doing business as Knight Remodeling, and William F. Knight, Coon Rapids, $18,000 fine
Within three days of the tornado, Knight contracted with two north Minneapolis homeowners to repair the damage. For both, the company failed to finish the work. For three projects it didn’t apply for building permits until months after work began. Knight operated under an inactive license. For one project Knight installed vinyl siding, but billed the insurance company for stucco. It constructed a garage slab, but sloped it to drain back into the garage. It installed faulty fixtures and dented doors. Knight compelled a homeowner to sign a completion certificate before the job was finished.
Cole Anthony Contracting LLC, doing business as Northland Roofing, and Troy Joseph Wenzel, Marshall, $13,000 fine
Northland accepted a total of $26,194 in down payments for four jobs, but failed to do any work or refund the money. A homeowner paid in full for a reroofing that was done incorrectly. A homeowner obtained a judgment against Northland for $4,098.
Exterior Solutions MN LLC and Charles (Rocky) Cano, Lakeville, $11,000
Cano and two of his businesses were previously the subject of enforcement actions by the department. Because those actions prohibited him from holding a contractor license, Cano persuaded his girlfriend to apply for licensure while keeping his and a co-owner’s name secret. Two more people joined the company, one who had a $400,000 judgment against him and another who was later convicted of theft by swindle. A $33,755 judgment was issued against Exterior and a supplier said the company failed to pay a debt of $27,818.
JEM Construction Co. and Mary M. Judovsky, Maple Grove, $9,000 fine
On May 22, 2011, the day a tornado damaged her north Minneapolis house, a homeowner hired JEM to make repairs. Though the owner signed over the insurance check, JEM left the property in a partly demolished state for months and failed to complete the project. Workers left sanding dust over uncovered furniture and surfaces. They dripped paint over unprotected carpeting and flooring and stained a bathtub and toilet when a worker poured unused paint into the fixtures. A supplier, a dumpster company and a staffing agency were awarded judgments against JEM totaling $38,466.
Northwoods Homes Inc. and Glenn Oscarson and Troy Oscarson, Nisswa and Brainerd, $6,500 fine
Though Northwoods was paid in full for a project, a supplier filed a $49,266 lien on the homeowner’s property when Northwoods failed to pay it.
After a homeowner found out a design Northwoods provided didn’t meet local building requirements, Northwoods urged the property owner to proceed anyway. Northwoods failed to provide a revised design or return the owner’s $52,500 down payment.
Northwoods conducted business after its license had expired. Five judgments totaling $120,406 were entered against the company.
Hi Tec Builders Inc. and Kraig Quamme, Dundas, $5,500 fine
Since 2008, five judgments totaling $11,322 have been entered against the company. While Quamme claimed to have a payment plan in place with one business, he failed to comply with the plan. The state found that none of the judgments has been satisfied.
Acclaim Roofing LLC and Corbett K. Cook, Hastings, $5,000 fine
Acclaim was cited by a Cottage Grove inspector for “questionable” and “noncompliant installation” of a roof. The company failed to correct the deficiencies or refund any money.