Builders donate roof to sketchy roofer’s victims

Builders replace the roof at Denise and Randy Shattuck's Ionia home. (April 29, 2017)


IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — A month after Target 8 exposed an unlicensed builder accused of taking advantage of an Ionia couple, several companies have stepped in to help the desperate homeowners.

“They’re wonderful and God answered my prayers,” a tearful Denise Shattuck told Target 8. “I’ve been telling them all day, we can’t thank them enough.”

The companies’ reasons for donating materials and labor to build a free roof are as touching as their gift is generous.

“I fell out of my tree stand about a year ago, broke my back, basically,” explained Doug Gesink, the owner of Gesink Building Services in Grand Rapids.

He said the outpouring of support from his church, community, friends and family helped him as he recovered from compression fractures.

“Now it’s time to turn around and give back,” Gesink said.

Jason Tribe of Tribe’s Construction had a similar story.

“I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ because things happened to me in my life and I had help. So I’ve got to give it back,” he said.

One of Tribe’s employees called it an “honor” to donate his labor and time to help build a new roof for Denise and Randy Shattuck.

“My whole life, growing up, it was rough for us and we had various companies and organizations help us growing up,” Joe Samons of Tribe’s Construction explained. “To finally be in a position to be able to give back, it’s an honor.”

Also giving back in a big way is Reurink Roofing and Siding out of Ionia. The company supplied the metal roofing panels that will comprise the Shattucks’ new roof.

“I have a good boss who believes in community and is always doing things to help the community out,” Brian Pleyte of Reurink said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Pleyte’s statement drew a chorus of “Amens” from the group of builders working to build the Shattucks’ new roof on Saturday.

If you’re interested in helping on the project, the builders say they’re still in need of additional supplies and the Shattucks are looking for help to fix damage to interior ceilings and drywall also caused by the bad roof work. You can reach out to the family through their YouCaring and GoFundMe pages.

Authorities say Dennis Upton, 24, is responsible for the shoddy roof job. He’s owner of Upton Quality Construction, which is based out of Potterville, southwest of Lansing. He’s accused of taking $11,000 from the Shattucks but leaving their roof repairs unfinished and their yard a mess. The Ionia County building inspector told Target 8 Upton’s roof work would have to be ripped out and redone.

One day after Target 8’s first alert on Upton aired in early April, the Ionia County prosecutor charged him with operating without a builder’s license in the Shattuck’s case.

Dennis Upton, Eaton County
A mug shot of Dennis Upton from the Eaton County Jail. (April 2017)

A couple of weeks later, Eaton County’s prosecutor charged Upton with larceny in connection with a separate job. According to investigators, Upton submitted a $3,600 bid to build a fence for a family in Delta Township, took a $2,400 down payment from them and then disappeared.

The companies that gathered over the weekend to build the Shattucks’ a new roof said Upton’s work was the worst they had ever seen.

“We have to take everything off, everything he did,” Jason Tribe said. “Because he (Upton) ruined everything underneath. We have to redo it all.”

The builders say part of Upton’s roof had already collapsed.

“She just got taken advantage of,” said Doug Gesink said of Denise Shattuck. “It’s just ridiculous what’s up there.”

The builders say the Shattucks’ nightmare serves as a good reminder for consumers.

“Research the person you’re dealing with,” Tribe advised. “Look them up, get their names, get their numbers, call their insurance company, get their license number and make sure everything is current.”

You can look up a contractor’s license online at Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.

Tribe also warned against paying the bill in full until you’re certain the work was done correctly.

“A down payment’s OK. That’s reasonable,” he said. “But have someone else inspect the work before you give them the final check.”

Here are some tips on hiring a contractor from the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan:

  • Check with BBB
  • Check with friends, neighbors, or co-workers who’ve used a contractor
  • Look at online sites you trust that post ratings and reviews
  • Find out how long they’ve been in business
  • Verify contractor’s license with LARA — https://www.lara.michigan.gov/colaLicVerify/
  • Ask for a copy of company’s insurance — contractor should have personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage coverage.
  • Get several estimates
  • Ask if your project will require a permit, and if so, who is responsible for obtaining the permit?
  • Ask for references, and check them! Ask if the client was satisfied, if the job was completed on time, did the worker’s clean up when done?
  • Ask if subcontractor will be used; if so, make sure the subcontractors have current insurance coverage and licenses, too, if required.
  • Get a written contract. Contract should include:
    • Company name, address, phone number and license number
    • Estimated start and completion date
    • Contractor’s obligation to obtain permit
    • How change orders will be handled
    • Warranty information
    • Cancellation information
      • Be sure to have any verbal promises or assurances added to the contract