Homeowners say contractors overcharged, turn to KATU for help

Homeowners say contractors overcharged, turn to KATU for help

WALDPORT, Ore. - When winds close to 100 miles per hour tore up and down the Oregon coast in 2011, they ripped apart roofs. Heavy rain then dumped buckets of water inside hundreds of damaged homes.

The Humphrey family home, in Waldport, suffered massive damage. Mold and other issues forced the family to undertake a near complete renovation.
 
Teresa Humphrey told “On Your Side” Investigator Thom Jensen her insurance company was dragging its feet on paying out a claim for repairs, but she said that all changed when she hired Restoration Professionals and Consultants of Albany.     

Humphrey said RPC went to work on her home almost immediately, even before the insurance claims were settled.

“They've paid, but it's taken a long, long time to get them to do it,” she said.

Not far away in Waldport, Bob Minkler was having trouble with his insurance company, too. Mold had overcome his bedroom, and he said his insurance company’s solution was for Bob and his wife to sleep on an air mattress.

Minkler, who suffers from critical respiratory issues, also said when RPC got involved the home was quickly repaired. He has since moved back into his bedroom.

He credited RPC and said, “If it wasn't for these guys here we would have been in the hospital by now."

But we met three more homeowners who paint a very different picture about RPC and the three brothers who run the business – Cameron, Adam and Mike Blagg.

Recently those three homeowners brought their complaints against RPC to the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.

The agency keeps track of the licensing of contractors and handles disputes between homeowners and contractors.

Oregon CCB has received six complaints against the Blaggs alleging they charged for work never performed and never agreed to in a contract. The homeowners also say they were bullied when they refused to pay RPC.

Katsu Young told KATU she hired RPC to remove water-damaged tiles from her basement floor, and Cameron Blagg said it would only cost a few hundred dollars.
        
Young said the total cost ended up being more than $12,000. When she added to that her attorney costs from the legal dispute that followed she’s now out more than $20,000.
        
Young’s CCB complaint, initially filed last year, accuses Cameron and Adam Blagg of “knowingly falsifying a written contract,” making “fraudulent insurance claims” and doing “unauthorized and improper work.”  
         
Young showed KATU her west Salem home where RPC tore apart walls, claiming she had mold damage. She said RPC insisted her insurance company would have to pay for everything, not just the damaged tile removal. It didn’t.
         
Invoices to Young from RPC show the company charged more than $5,000 for de-humidifiers and air movers alone.
         
To make matters worse Young said the house still is not repaired.
 
Rich Blank of the Oregon Construction Contractors Board is familiar with RPC and the Blaggs.

"I know that we have some current investigations going, yes,” he said.

One of those investigations involves a Keizer family that hired RPC to fix damage caused by a leaky toilet. The Blaggs charged the family for items they say RPC never installed and work they never performed – a sink, a toilet, painting and caulking just to name a few. 

The homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, has e-mails from Cameron Blagg that he received after he refused to pay for the items listed on the invoice. The e-mails are laced with profanity and threats.

KATU confronted Blagg about the e-mails and other issues at Blagg’s Albany home, and Blagg admitted he wrote the email. He said he was so angry he couldn’t control himself.

As he put it, “I lost it because of insurance companies cheating people."

Cameron Blagg and his brothers later said they fight constantly with insurance companies, which they said refuse to properly cover homeowners’ claims.

They also said they settled all complaints filed with CCB.

"All of those have been worked out," Cameron Blagg said. 

The Blaggs are partially correct. Some of the complaints were worked out in civil court after the Blaggs sued homeowners for non-payment. They won at least three of those lawsuits, but those homeowners said they still dispute documents the Blaggs presented in court.

The CCB was not allowed to investigate some of the complaints while those lawsuits were pending. Now that they are settled, the CCB could re-open its investigations.

Cameron Blagg said it’s his right to be able to sue when payment for his work is being withheld. He insists the real story is about an insurance industry systematically ripping off homeowners.

“We see that stuff and it makes us get mad,” Cameron Blagg said. “We see them low ball senior citizens."