Contractor leaves Milwaukee man with leaky roof: “It’s a day-to-day worry”

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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.

Dave Barrett

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.

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Tarps cover Dwain Berry's roof after contractor Dave Barrett failed to complete work.

"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.

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One of the holes in Dwain Berry's kitchen ceiling due to the leaky roof.

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.

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Contact 6's Jenna Sachs chats with certified NARI remodeler Tom Mainville about researching contractors.

"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.

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Dwain Berry shows Contact 6's Jenna Sachs the uncompleted work on his roof.

"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.'

1 Comment

  • R.B. Roberts

    Hi Jenna!
    Great coverage! But, please, allow me to say that, as you know, this is a new story for Mr. Berry, but then, it’s the same old story when it comes to our private home decision makers getting “hit” like this. It’s just that far too many of us still aren’t taking this sort of thing seriously enough. Many of us hardly devote sufficient time needed to be on top of this sort of game, so, we really don’t give ourselves a chance to play it better.
    Albert Einstein is most noted for saying: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play better than anyone else!” This game is called ” To Catch a Sleeper.” One has to be good enough to catch the other sleeping. The one who’s caught sleeping, loses. The private home decision maker who makes it a point of staying alert against things like this is the one who catches the contractor asleep instead, wakes him, and sends him on his way; the one who doesn’t, falls asleep, so he doesn’t see the “hit” coming. It’s only after the “hit ‘n’ run,” that the victim experiences the rude awakening.
    In this moment, there are many reading this, but they’re really “NOT” since they prefer not to pay attention in order to catch up on their sleep. They’re not paying attention. But, as much as I some times have the sense of the futility of it all, I know, that it’s all not in vain since some inevitably opt to play it better than these dishonest predators. That’s my ray of light, my ray of hope, and what keeps “me” awake about how important it is to stay in the game!

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