MILWAUKEE -- He's a problem contractor with a criminal history. He even served time in the House of Correction. But now, he's back in the same business. The contractor is Dave Barrett.
Dwain Berry of Milwaukee hired Barrett to repair his roof, but it's not even close to being finished.
"It's a day-to-day worry about what's gonna happen," Berry said.
Since August, Berry's roof has been covered with tarps.
"We didn't know where to turn, so we decided to call Contact 6 for help," Berry said.
Berry hasn't seen Barrett since he handed him a final cash payment of $1,700.
"On that particular day, he worked two hours, disappeared. Left his ladder, his tool belt, his tools," Berry said.
The money was intended to repair Berry's roof, which leaks so badly that sometimes water streams through his kitchen ceiling.
"You can see the hole. It busted through just like a fountain," Berry said as he showed the leak to FOX6 Contact 6 reporter Jenna Sachs.
Berry says Barrett hangs up when he calls. The same thing happened when Contact 6 called Barrett. It turns out, Barrett is a very hard guy to find. Contact 6 visited Barrett's home three times to get his comment, but got no response.
An online records search reveals Barrett has been convicted of theft by contractor eight times since 2002.
In addition, it appears Barrett is still looking for jobs. Contact 6 found a Craigslist post for a handyman with Barrett's information.
It serves as an important reminder to do a little digging before hiring a contractor.
"You have to do your homework when you're giving someone the keys to your house," said Tom Mainville of Story Hill Renovations, LLC.
Mainville is a certified home remodeler through the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Mainville recommends doing a thorough background check.
"Checking trade associations. Are they part of Milwaukee NARI? Are they part of the Better Business Bureau?" Mainville said.
As for Berry, a court has ordered Barrett pay him back $1,900. However, Berry is not very optimistic he'll see the money and he worries every time it rains or snows.
"Especially heavy rains, and the water is just coming down and we're switching buckets all night. It's stressful," Berry said.
If you're looking to hire a contractor, Mainville recommends asking the following questions:
- Are you certified?
- Do you have a website?
- Do you have insurance or provide lien waivers?
- Do you provide formal contracts with a start and end date?
The answers to all of those questions should be 'yes.'