KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two couples, each spending tens of thousands of dollars, said they’ve been ripped off by a contractor who was paid to do major construction work on their homes.
Bernice Taylor and her husband Roger bought a brick house in south Kansas City with the idea of fixing it up as their retirement home.
“We thought it would be great to find a home, renovate it and then not have a large mortgage and then pay if off before retirement,” Bernice Taylor said. “We just fell in love with the house, just loved the layout of the house, and so we decided it would be a good property to renovate."
In April, the Taylors signed a letter of intent with Telos Contracting’s Kristofer Bain for a complete house renovation.
Bain estimated it would cost around $100,000.
Records show Telos is a Delaware business registered in both Kansas and Missouri.
“We signed the contract and he said it would take five months,” Bernice Taylor said.
To meet that deadline so the Taylors could host events for their daughter’s wedding, they gave Bain over half the estimated cost.
But by the first week in September, the Taylors said Bain walked away from the job, leaving not only an incomplete job, but also leaving the Taylors with a mess.
“We would’ve been better off to have the house in the original state, have someone reputable to come in and work on it,” Bernice Taylor said. “All the wiring is gone, all the plumbing is gone and in addition to that, he’s dug up in the basement, dug up the concrete that he didn’t need to do."
Bernice Taylor said Bain took out what she described as “beautiful original brick” from the home’s fireplace and threw it away.
Bain also took out all the duct work.
“I didn’t tell him to take out the duct work. I just assumed he knew what he was doing when he took it out,” Bernice said.
The Taylors also said Bain took out siding and wood work under the garage and messed up brick work there so they can’t install new garage doors.
Bain also ripped out windows and left the house exposed to the elements, according to Bernice Taylor.
“We had to have it boarded up,” she said.
There are also several piles of debris at the home’s backyard.
They include one pile of concrete chunks from a sidewalk on the property the Taylors said Bain ripped up without asking them.
Kansas City records show Bain never obtained any kind of permit to work on the Taylor home project.
The Taylors used money saved over a lifetime from the sale of their home where they raised their children to pay for the renovations.
Now, Bernice Taylor said she and her husband have to start all over again, their retirement dream home currently on hold.
“I really don’t know where the money is going to come from, that was a big chunk,” she said.
The Taylors are not alone.
Jennifer Parris and her husband Deno signed a deal with Bain in September 2018 to build a two story addition to their home in north Kansas City.
The idea was to make room for the Parris’ growing family of three young children and provide a home for Jennifer’s 92-year-old grandmother, Betty Meugniot.
Meugniot agreed to pay for it, again, with a lifetime worth of savings.
“She’s getting to the point where she can’t live on her own any more,” Jennifer Parris said.
Under terms of the Parris Family deal, Bain was supposed to start work “on or about September 24, 2018 and will be completed in approximately 16 weeks."
The total cost of the two-story addition under the contract was $167,500.
Under terms of the deal, the Parris’ paid 40 percent, or $67,000, up front.
Once the addition was under roof, they were supposed to pay another $67,000.
While the contract said work was supposed to begin in September 2018, Kansas City records show Bain didn’t have his first permit in place until Dec. 31, 2018.
Those records also show he didn’t get approval to pour the footings or foundation for the addition until June.
Additionally, Bain’s former partner, who doesn’t wish to be identified, said Bain used his contractor’s license to get the permits.
He said Bain doesn’t have a contractor’s license.
According to Jennifer Parris, Bain didn’t do any work until last May, when he started ripping out the home’s deck to make room for the addition.
“I was on the phone with him, I was texting him, every week at least,” Jennifer Parris said.
She spent about $97,000 of her grandmother’s money before Bain left the incomplete project the first week in September, at about the same time he left the Taylor project.
The home’s addition has multiple holes in the walls and the roof and is covered in part by tarps.
Because it’s far from weather proof, Jennifer Parris showed the 41 Action News Investigators how her existing home has been damaged by rain leaking into it.
“This is, I mean, you can see the walls are even cracking, but you can see all the mold all the way along this wall,” she said as she showed an area on the second floor next to the addition.
Jennifer Parris also showed where Bain ripped up the existing bathroom ceiling on the second floor, leaving insulation all over the place.
He also took out the sink, toilet and shower and tried to take out the bathtub, where chunks of the tub have been knocked out.
“They actually could not get this tub out,” Jennifer Parris said.
Water also leaked into the family room downstairs, destroying her children’s toys, which have been piled up in the center of the room.
Jennifer Parris choked back tears when she told the 41 Action News Investigators about what she might do after the mess Bain left behind.
“It’s not just me. It wasn’t even my money, so that’s probably what makes me the angriest about it,” Jennifer Parris said. “I just don’t know what is going to happen to get this house back to where it was, I just don’t have a clue. I’m out $100,000 because I’ve actually been told by other contractors that it would cost just as much money to do this again."
A spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office confirmed Jennifer Parris filed a complaint against Bain.
The 41 Action News Investigators caught up with Bain at his Olathe home to ask him about the Taylor and Parris complaints.
“I do not have any comment right now,” Bain said.
Bain also told the 41 Action News Investigators to contact his attorney.
However, Bain didn’t say who that attorney is or answer a text message requesting that information.
The 41 Action News Investigators also found Bain has a history of business issues.
In 2017, a company called Proairus LLC sued Bain.
According to the complaint, Proairus invested $750,000 in Bain’s company, Ubersoft.
The money was supposed to be used to develop computer software to take restaurant purchasing orders on the internet.
Instead, the complaint says Bain and his partner spent the money on themselves, including a more than $73,000 payment on a custom trailer to transport sports cars to amateur racing events.
Pictures of the trailer are included in the court record.
That same record shows Bain filed bankruptcy to try to get out of returning the $750,000 investment.
But a judge ruled Bain has to return that money because under law, the debt arose from “false pretenses, a false representation or actual fraud."
“I wish he’d go to jail, he should be in jail,” Jennifer Parris said.
Court records show Bain filed another bankruptcy in 2006.
And in 2007, the Internal Revenue Service filed two liens against Bain, totaling nearly $37,000.
He wasn’t released from those liens until 2014.
The 41 Action News Investigators sent Bain a text message asking him how much of the $750,000 judgment against him he’s returned.
Bain didn’t answer.
The Better Business Bureau has several tips consumers can follow before hiring a contractor.
Those tips include researching and gathering information on the contractor.
The BBB also recommends getting multiple quotes in writing, as well as verifying a contractor’s license and insurance.