Contractor walks on military family's remodel

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by JESSE JONES / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 12:11 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 12:20 PM

Holly Bergstrom's praying for help since her contractor walked off the job.  The problem is she can see the heavens from her basement.

"Our hole, all the way up. All the way up to the roof," said Bergstrom.

Holly paid Tacoma Custom Construction and owner John Carlson $100,000 to remodel her home.  They quit after doing less than half of the work.
 
"The whole thing is overwhelming.  It's very emotional for me.  This is our house.  We've lived here a long time and this is where we wanted to live for the rest of our lives.  So, this is really hard," explained Bergstrom.

It's hard because she's raising three kids alone in that mess.  Her husband Gregg is an Army Reservist.  He's on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

"It's impossible.  I don't know what I'm going to do," said Bergrstom.

Walking off the job was bad, But the timing was even worse. 

"It was actually the day after my husband left. We found out that he was no longer going to come to our job.  That was really a hard day," said Bergstrom.

I tried to get Carlson's side of the story.  He agreed to meet me, then he changed his mind..  So I went to his home but he didn't answer the door.  I did end up talking to Robert and Susan Anderson.  The couple co-owned Tacoma Custom Construction with Carlson.  Robert says John had the financial books and took the bids so there was very little accounting or accountability in the company.

The Andersons said they had little control of what was being spent and actually delivered, especially at the Bergstroms'. 

Also, the Bergstroms paid Tacoma Custom Construction for the supplies for their job.  But not all of that money may have reached the supplier because the Bergstroms were hit with thousands of dollars in liens from suppliers.   The Bergstroms sued Tacoma Custom Construction and won a $100,000 judgment.  Fircrest Police Department also investigated the company and recently sent the case to the Pierce County prosecutor.  A decision on charges is expected soon.

During my investigation, I found a registration for a company called Pacific Northwest Exteriors.  The listed owner is Summer Carlson, John's wife.  I wanted to know how the Carlsons could register for another company when there is an outstanding judgment.  So I went to Olympia and spoke with Shari-Purves-Reiter from Labor and Industries.

"If somebody has had problems, they've harmed a consumer, they haven't paid their suppliers, they've gone to court, they have a judgment and they haven't satisfied it, they are barred from getting a new registration," explained Purves-Reiter.

But that's exactly what the Carlsons did.  After I pointed that out, the agency agreed to look into the issue and within minutes corrected the problem.

"We did register her in error and thanks to you letting us know, she is currently suspended and very likely, as soon as I give it to an investigator, will be receiving an infraction for falsifying information on her application.  So she's no longer in business.  We suspended her right now," said Purves-Reiter.

The Carlsons are out of business.  The Andersons have declared bankruptcy.  Holly Bergstrom is pulling things together the best she can.  As her husband fights for our country, she will defend the home front, praying for a miracle and hoping for justice.

"Like my husband always says, he says this all the time, it's just things, it's just things," said Bergstrom.  "We are all okay and we are all healthy and eventually we'll all be back together again.  Right now, this is all just stuff and we can get past it."
 

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