MONROVIA, Ind. – A Monrovia woman’s roof was destroyed by a tree during a thunderstorm, and a repair crew that came to help her may have done more harm than good.
Ethel Spurlock has lived in her home since 1938.
“This is where my roots are,” said Spurlock.
She was sleeping on June 21, 2016, when a tree came crashing through her roof.
“I woke up and I couldn’t believe what was going on,” said Spurlock.
Volunteers with Gasburg Baptist Church came out to help Spurlock fix her roof for free.
They left behind ladders, and Spurlock said they also left her roof in bad shape, enough that water was still getting in.
“It was really, really terrible,” said Spurlock. “I did not plan on this.”
Spurlock's neighbor Jack Lyons was unable to reach the church, so he put a tarp on Spurlock's roof to cover a growing hole.
“The job is just really shoddy,” said Lyons. “It’s not supported really well, so rain and snow and ice could be a situation.”
Another friend of Spurlock’s contacted Call 6 Investigates, concerned the elderly woman’s roof was about to collapse.
Call 6 Investigates contacted the Better Business Bureau who put us in touch with Nichols Brothers Roofing and Exteriors.
"The repair done by the church did more harm than good,” said Jacob Nichols, owner of Nichols Brothers Roofing and Exteriors. “We had to tear all of it out and do it over. Not to mention, whoever did the work cut holes in sections of her roof that weren’t even damaged in the first place.”
Nichols partnered with Expert General Contractors and Modern Builders Supply, who also donated their time and money to fix Spurlock’s house.
“We just saw that someone needed help,” said Nichols. “We're a smaller company and we can't do a lot, and so we jumped on it. It's kind of a group effort to try to make something right for a woman who has lived in this house her entire life."
Call 6 Investigates checked with the Monrovia Planning Commission who told us you do not need a permit to do roof repair.
Gasburg Baptist Church declined Call 6 Investigates’ request to speak on camera but provided a statement saying they intended to help Spurlock secure a grant to replace her roof.
"Gasburg Baptist Church (GBC) has been an active member of the Monrovia community for more than 50 years. Our desire is to show God’s love to our community in a practical way consistent with the truths taught in scripture. The congregation of GBC has given generously throughout the years to help members of our community pay their utilities, rent, and provide food for their families. GBC also helps numerous Morgan County families during the holidays by providing much-needed groceries and Christmas gifts for their families.
Ms. Ethel Spurlock is an example of the members of our community we have assisted. Over the course of approximately one year, a team of volunteers from GBC have spent countless hours assisting her by patching a leak in her roof, supplying oil for her home, and stocking her shelves with food. Because of the condition of her roof and her financial need, our intent from the very beginning has been to assist Ms. Spurlock in securing a grant to help replace her existing roof. During the course of our assistance, we discovered that Ms. Spurlock has also been a victim of an international/crossborder financial scam (http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2531.htm) that unfortunately resulted in her losing most of her savings. As a result of her financial loss, Ms. Spurlock was unable to secure homeowners insurance for her home and did not qualify for the grant we were helping her seek. GBC and the volunteers from GBC have never asked for or received any money from Ms. Spurlock. Instead, our church members and volunteers have joyfully donated to cover any assistance that has been provided.
Our church cannot fathom why anyone would attempt to twist our generosity and volunteer efforts as anything other than trying to show the love of Christ in a real and tangible way. GBC is committed to the well being of our community and we seek to ensure that every citizen of Monrovia can experience and know the love of God."
Ethel Spurlock wants to share her story so that other people are careful who they let up on their roof.
She’s grateful to Jacob Nichols, the Better Business Bureau, and all the workers who helped repair her roof.
“I was really pleased and so thankful,” said Spurlock. “I was so happy to see it was done right. I’m very pleased with it, and they were so nice.”
The Indiana Attorney General’s office received 360 complaints about roofing, chimneys, and gutters between mid-February 2015 to mid-February 2018.
The Attorney General’s office provides the following tips for hiring a contractor:
FINDING A CONTRACTOR
Take your time. Don’t let the contractor rush your decision.
Do research. Know how much you can afford and what you want to be done.
Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau for complaint information on contractors you are considering.
Talk to your friends who used this contractor. Did they like his work?
Opt for the local, well-established contractor. Don’t assume that an ad makes the contractor reliable.
Compare bids and services. Be skeptical if the bid is too low. Cheaper is not necessarily better. A contractor with a low price may be inexperienced and unable to finish the work for the amount bid.
Get bids in writing. Does the bid reflect the improvements you discussed? How long will the project take? A detailed, written proposal allows you to shop around.
Is the contractor licensed, bonded and insured? Licensing requirements vary from community to community.
Check with your city or county building department to determine the licensing requirements for your area and if the contractor you are considering is properly licensed, bonded and insured.
BEFORE SIGNING THE CONTRACT
Get a written contract. Indiana law requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing. Before signing the contract, make certain it includes:
The price of the job
A detailed description of the work and materials (including colors, brand names, and patterns)
Estimated start and completion dates
The contractor’s name and address
A name and telephone number of the person to contact if problems arise
The contractor’s signature
Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. Do not pay more than 1/3 of the total cost as a down payment. Remaining payments should be tied to completion of specified amounts of work.
AFTER SIGNING THE CONTRACT
Is a permit needed for your home improvement? Many localities require permits for building projects. Contact your local building department to see if a permit is needed. A contractor should not start work until the permit is issued.
Don’t make the final payment to the contractor until you know that all subcontractors and/or suppliers have been paid. Get written a proof of payment. Subcontractors and suppliers may file a mechanics lien against your home if they haven’t been paid.
Get a copy of the warranty. If a contractor guarantees labor and/or materials, those warranties should be in writing.
Keep all records related to your project. This includes the contract, change orders, warranties, and correspondence. These records are important, particularly if you have a problem with your project.