St. Louis, Mo., June 19, 2012 – Bruce Pettis, whose construction business was harshly criticized by St. Louis area homeowners and Berkeley city officials last year, is generating concerns under a new company name, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
The BBB urges that consumers be careful when contracting with Pettis, of Florissant, or his company, Brothers Construction Co.
“He’s started the same old stuff again,” said a Berkeley city inspector.
A Berkeley homeowner said the work on her hail-damaged roof in recent weeks was so poor that Berkeley city inspectors forced Pettis to remove the shingles and redo the roof. She also said that Pettis overcharged her by more than $3,000 for the project, a claim that Pettis denies.
The inspector confirmed that police were called to the home by neighbors after a series of heated arguments broke out between Pettis and his workers during the construction.
Pettis’ former firm, Pettis Construction Co., has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible. In August 2011, the BBB reported that several Berkeley area property owners claimed that Pettis took their money to repair their homes, but did no work or failed to complete the jobs.
The city of Berkeley cited Pettis for six ordinance violations involving his work last year. The inspector said Pettis was arrested on the charges last month and freed on a $5,000 cash bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on those charges on June 26.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said it’s clear that Pettis has not learned from past mistakes. “This appears to be a chronic issue with Mr. Pettis,” Corey said. “If he is going to continue in the contracting business, he needs to find a way to change and change in a hurry. Consumers have little tolerance for slipshod business practices.”
The 81-year-old woman who hired Pettis last month said she did so after a recommendation from her daughter’s boss. She said she approved $4,200 for the roof work, but said that Pettis kept demanding more money. She said she eventually paid him $7,300.
The Berkeley inspector said that when he inspected the work on Bobb Avenue, there were so many problems that he instructed Pettis to remove the entire roof and replace it. “Both he and his men thought that roof was in perfect shape,” the official said. After the work was redone, the roof passed inspection.
Pettis blamed the poor workmanship on one of his workers, who he subsequently fired. He said the additional money went to replace building materials that were stolen from the site, to replace rotten wood and to replace the roof on a back porch, which was not included in the original bid. The owner said she never agreed to any of those expenditures.
“I was giving him money, and he was not showing me any bills,” she said. “That was a stupid thing for me to do.”
In an Aug. 17 news warning, the BBB quoted the city inspector as saying Pettis’ work at that time was so amateurish as to be “unbelievable.” He said, “I have a 2 ½-year-old granddaughter who could do better work.”
Pettis served a four-year prison term ending in 2010 on a federal charge of distributing cocaine. Other convictions include burglary, felony stealing, forgery, felony possession of marijuana and carrying a loaded .38 caliber revolver without a permit.
The BBB offers the following tips for homeowners searching for contractors:
- Don't make a hasty decision. Take time to ensure the business is local and has a track record of reliable workmanship. Visit www.bbb.org or call 314-645-3300 for a BBB Business Review, which includes the company’s BBB rating (A+ plus to F) along with the complaint history and company contact information.
- Ask the company for references and call those property owners. Ask them if the jobs were performed as agreed upon and whether they were satisfied with the results.
- Ask whether the contractor has all required licenses and insurance. Ask your city whether they have had experience with the business.
- Ask for a written contract and read it to ensure that everything discussed is included. Make sure it includes all details of the job and when and how payments are to be made.
- Do not make all payments in advance. Suggest a payment plan that would include a third of the money in advance, a third once work is underway and the final third when work is completed to your satisfaction.
About the BBB
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews of more than 4 million companies, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit http://www.bbb.org/ for more information.
Contact: Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, (314) 584-6800, firstname.lastname@example.org; Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), email@example.com; Bill Smith, Investigator, (314) 584-6727, firstname.lastname@example.org