On April 30, 2018, Allison and Riley Bailey felt the exhilaration and anticipation that couples feel when closing on their first home together.
They were a few months from getting married, and their first child wasn’t far away after that.
But just about a week later, a hailstorm in the Janesville area dampened their glee—and damaged the roof and siding of their new South Chatham Street home.
They connected with Milton’s Copperhead Contracting to complete repairs, and the agreement became official with a contract in February 2019 and plans to start work that spring.
The project has never been done. The Baileys, who expressed frustration with often-unanswered messages, calls and letters, paid $1,640 out of pocket with insurance covering $14,807.
For the newlyweds and their young child, money was tight. While the bulk of that money came from insurance, Allison said the total figure represents “like half of one of our salaries for a whole year.”
“We’re trying to save money every way that we can,” said Riley, noting that the work they and the insurance company paid for addressed only about half of the hailstorm damage.
Meanwhile, the couple noticed other homes in their neighborhood getting work done in what seemed like days.
The Baileys described the whole process as “frustrating” and “lackluster.”
“It’s been painstaking,” Riley said.
A resolution could be on the horizon.
After an investigation by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Rock County District Attorney’s Office on July 29 charged Copperhead’s co-owner, Ryan A. Metzker, 32, of Fort Atkinson, with two counts of theft in a business setting.
In an interview, Metzker said the projects came during a tumultuous time.
He said he and his business partner went their separate ways about a year and a half ago, so some projects fell through the cracks because paperwork was split up and some jobs weren’t entered into the computer system.
“We apologize for making the mistakes that were made, and we’ll get them addressed,” he said. “The company is no longer in standing, but (it is) honoring its warranties.”
The Baileys said they never spoke to or worked directly with Metzker.
When asked about the communication problems, Metzker said he works 16 to 18 hours per day and answers calls at home until he falls asleep.
Metzker, who is now doing work under a different company, said he has the money to pay back the victims from this case and is working with his lawyer and the DA’s office to work out the amounts.
In an email, District Attorney David O’Leary said, “I am negotiating with his attorney to obtain restitution for the victims and will make a decision on how to proceed depending on how that goes.”
In a previous civil court matter, Copperhead Contracting also reached a settlement to pay about $350,000 to American Builders and Contractors Supply Co. Beloit, according to an order filed Sept. 16, 2019.
The recent criminal case concerns two projects that Copperhead is accused of not completing: the Bailey’s home damage and a town of Bradford project.
Both victims wanted roofing, siding and gutter work done and said they had trouble communicating with Copperhead, according to the criminal complaint.
The state investigator said Metzker failed to give a refund or provide a written account of how the money was used, the complaint states.
In the town of Bradford case, Metzker contends he paid more for than project than he received in compensation.
Riley said the experience was a first for him. Looking back, he wishes he had gotten more estimates and done more research.
“We just don’t want it to happen to anybody else,” he said.