Homeowners claim roofer Above Grade Construction ripped them off; Owner says he needs more time

February 6, 2014 (NAPERVILLE, Ill.)

Some customers put money down about six months ago, and they still haven't heard the sound of a hammer and nail. There are others who now have liens on their homes.

In all of these cases, the construction company approaches homeowners and helps them get insurance claims on storm damaged roofs.

Roofer William Boerger may be in over his head.

ABC7's Jason Knowles asks: "You're going to finish the work?"

"I will be doing what I'm doing now until the day I die," said Boerger.

Tell that to Scott Thielsen, whose wind damaged roof hasn't been touched since he signed a contract in May. He paid a $2,200 deposit-- money from an insurance claim. Thielsen says Boerger's company, Above Grade Construction out of East Dundee, approached him and other Naperville neighbors after hail and wind damaged their roofs.

"They were very hard to get a hold of starting mid-summer. They weren't answering voice mails they weren't calling back and I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau," said Thielsen.

The BBB says it's in the process of suspending Above Grade's accreditation and that there's more than 30 current complaints-- about a dozen have been resolved. Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is also investigating the company, saying it's gotten a dozen complaints in 2013.

His office was closed, so we tracked Boerger down at his home in Algonquin.

Knowles: "We talked to Scott Thielsen and he says he's been waiting on the work since May, so May is quite some time."
Boerger: "Ah, no. You hear a date from a customerm, that maybe when they signed a contract, it has nothing to do with when the job actually started."
Knowles: "Well it never started!"
Boerger: "Well it did, it did start, we did work for him and got the money for him that started this whole process."

Naperville homeowner Art Jablonski paid in full and got his new roof, he says, after waiting eight months.

"To my surprise I find out that one of the sub-contractors has placed a lien on my home," said Jablonski.

One of those sub-contractors is Bob Henning. He says Boerger owes him about $30,000 from various jobs.

"Here I am three months, four months later, I am still looking to get paid," said Henning.

Boerger says he's been a good businessman since opening in 2009, and blames a rainy spring and a brutal winter.

Knowles: "The sub-contractors will get paid?"
Boerger: "Have to, absolutely."
Knowles: "And the work will get done for the people waiting?"
Boerger: "Yes, and they have heard this."

Even though the homeowners paid the contractor, subcontractors could legally still file those liens.

The Better Business Bureau says you should get what's called a "sworn list" of subcontractors on projects so you know who you are dealing with. You can also get a "waiver of lien" in your contract which could be helpful in preventing a paid subcontractor from placing a lien.

Always pay in thirds, and if you can, give that first payment shortly before the work is scheduled to begin.

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