HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — State investigators and clients say a Hastings-based construction company has demonstrated of pattern of failing to complete jobs despite taking money, prompting the state to suspend its license.
The Michigan Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs suspended the licenses of Bay to Bay Building Concepts and owner Jerold Saeman in July.
A LARA spokesperson recently told News 8 that the agency had gotten reports Bay to Bay was still taking on jobs despite the suspension and that it was was investigating. The department would not comment further on an ongoing investigation.
The July suspension documents obtained by News 8 list a number of clients who said that in 2022, they paid the company and Saeman for various jobs that were either never completed or never even got started. Some clients said they got some of their money refunded. Some said they didn’t get any of it back.
In at least two cases, LARA said, the company didn’t get the correct permits or required inspections. The documents also allege that in some cases, people who signed contracts for Bay to Bay or Saeman weren’t properly licensed.
The documents said that Bay to Bay and Saeman violated 15 counts of Michigan’s Occupational Code, including for dishonest practices, gross negligence and incompetence, abandoning a contract, and violating building laws or failing to comply with code standards. LARA said the violations constituted “an imminent threat to public health, safety or welfare.”
LARA said it sent several notices to Saeman, listed as the qualifying corporate officer for Bay to Bay Building Concepts LLC, regarding each homeowner’s complaint. He had the chance to respond, but the state said he never did.
The Michigan State Police told News 8 that it and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office are investigating Bay to Bay and Saeman. The AG’s Office said that it has received 13 complaints related to Bay to Bay Building Concepts dating back to 2020, including seven in 2022 and three this year. Neither agency would provide further details.
A LARA spokesperson explained Bay to Bay and Saeman’s licenses are summarily suspended pending a decision by the department to lift the suspension or a decision made following an administrative hearing.
CLIENTS TRYING TO GET THEIR MONEY BACK
Echoing the complaints in the LARA documents, three West Michigan couples told News 8 that Bay to Bay took thousands of dollars in down payments but did little to no work.
Teri and Bill Cappon, of Middleville, said that they hired Saeman’s company in May to repair some damage to their home’s roof and siding after a hail storm in April. The Cappons told News 8 that Saeman looked at the damage and showed them some samples of material that he could repair their home with. After the examination, they said, he told them to let him know when they had an insurance check ready, saying he would begin the work after they gave him the money.
The Cappons said that they gave Saeman a check for $13,229.47, but no work was ever done. Frustrated, they reached out to Saeman to demand a refund. They said Saeman and his staff gave them the run-around when they asked for their money back. After going back and forth with them for months, the Cappons said Saeman finally agreed to give them the refund.
They said they were supposed to pick up the check at Bay to Bay’s office sometime in August, but when Bill arrived, there was no check and Saeman was nowhere to be found.
“There was no check. Jerold wasn’t there,” Teri Cappons said. “And (the assistant manager) told Bill that he (Jerold) was the only one that could write checks and that he was in Wyoming and my husband said ‘Wyoming, Michigan?’ And (the assistant manager) said, ‘No, state of Wyoming.'”
It wasn’t long before the Cappons discovered that Saeman and Bay to Bay did not have a license to do the work they were hired to do. The Cappons reached out to Saeman and Bay to Bay staff again to question why they were trying to do work without a license. They said they spoke with the assistant manager at the time, who told them that Saeman was unaware of the suspension.
They said Saeman eventually reached back out, promising them the refund was coming, but they still have yet to see any money.
Ken and Nichole Childs have a similar story: They said they also never got a refund and that no work was ever done after they hired Saeman and Bay to Bay to fix storm damage to their home in April. They said they paid him a little over $26,000 for repairs on a roof, eavestrough, downspouts and some siding work.
“We got a check from the insurance adjuster and gave that to Bay to Bay. And then they said they would put us on the books and start our work within two to three weeks so they had time to order the materials,” Ken Childs told News 8. “And after that, we just waited for them to call us back and let us know what time they would start the roofing job.”
The couple said after waiting for months, they contacted Bay to Bay and asked for their money back. They also found out that Saeman and Bay to Bay had a suspended license. They said the only thing the company gave them was excuses. They said they are still waiting for their money.
COUPLE WON JUDGMENT AGAINST BAY TO BAY
Mari Black and Robert Wood said they spent three years fighting in court to get their money back after Saeman and Bay to Bay failed to complete work on their home.
Black said that in September of 2020, she hired Bay to Bay on three contracts; a roof, gutters, soffit and facia contract for $11,742; a window contract for $8,350; and a siding contract for $15,225. The total price came out to $35,317.
Black said after a down payment of a little over $13,000, the only thing that got partially done was the roof. She added that Bay to Bay refused to do any more work, demanding she pay the total amount of money even though the job was incomplete.
“We still have no new siding. We still have no new windows and we have been infiltrated by bats since they (Bay to Bay) tore off the roof and supposedly replaced the roof,” Black said. “We still hear them in the walls pretty much daily. It’s been a nightmare. A three-year-long nightmare.”
Black and Wood took Bay to Bay Building Concepts to court for fraud, code violations and failing to pull permits among other things. They said they won the lawsuits they filed against Saeman and Bay to Bay Building Concepts. A judge agreed with their claims and ordered Bay to Bay to pay them $10,046.
Black and Wood said they are still waiting for Bay to Bay to pay them the remaining $3,797 in attorney fees that they are owed.
“I want to know what prosecuting attorney is going to prosecute this man and take him off the streets because he’s continuing day after day after day terrorizing people,” Wood said. “That’s my dilemma. When are they going to prosecute him and arrest him for all these crimes?”
This is not the first time Bay to Bay has had complaints filed about it with LARA. According to documents obtained by News 8, they company was fined by the state after admitting to alleged code violations in a 2020 court case. The fines followed a 2018 complaint that said Bay to Bay improperly installed some windows. As part of a January 2020 settlement, Saeman and Bay to Bay agreed to pay a $500 fine to the state of Michigan and a $1,800 reimbursement to the consumer.
The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan told News 8 that despite losing its BBB accreditation in May for failure to address customer complaints, Bay to Bay Building Concepts still has the accreditation listed on its website. The BBB is looking into that.
Bay to Bay Building Concepts office manager Elizabeth Saeman told News 8 the company had no comment when asked about the license suspension, state investigations and money that customers say they are owed.
LARA said a hearing before the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules was scheduled for Monday.