Crime & Courts

Kansas contractor fined $44,000 after botching tiny house project

A Haysville construction contractor has been ordered by a court to pay $44,000 in fines and restitution after messing up a tiny home project, officials said Thursday.

Brad Rogers, owner of Rogers Contracting, committed “deceptive and unconscionable” acts in violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, and performed work the company didn’t have the necessary skills to do, according to the judgment.

It was not the first time Rogers and his company have been in legal trouble. The latest case was a violation of a 2017 consent settlement against Rogers for deceiving four customers who signed up to have work done on their homes through a door-to-door solicitation.

“Rather than filing a separate case, we kind of addressed that within the confines of the (2017) case that had been settled, because part of the settlement of course is, don’t keep doing it, or don’t do more (illegal) things,” said Avery Elofsson, who heads the district attorney’s consumer fraud unit.

The latest case was on behalf of a Mulvane woman who paid Rogers more than $36,000 to convert a garage building into a micro-home, according to court documents.

But Rogers did the work without the required building permits or inspections, so the customer couldn’t get a certificate of occupancy to use the property. Some of the electrical work was found to be substandard and drywall had to be torn out and replaced to correct the problem, court records show.

Rogers also failed to give the woman a written notice, required by state law, that she could cancel the work within three days of agreeing to it, the court found.

Rogers did not return a phone message left at his business seeking comment.

He argued during the case that he didn’t have to pull permits for the work because the customer was acting as her own general contractor.

He wrote in an e-mail to prosecutors that he “loaned” subcontractors to the customer at his cost because she was homeless and living with his parents.

“She asked me a while back for a certificate of occupancy, but that has to be filed by the home owner, not me as some random guy who helped her as a charity case,” Rogers wrote. “I donated over 15k in materials and labor to her because she was my mother and grandmother’s friend.”

Judge David Dahl was not convinced.

His order said Rogers’ contention that the customer was acting as her own general contractor was “unreasonable, illogical and unpersuasive,” because she had no previous experience in construction and Rogers has worked on more than 150 homes in Sedgwick County.

The judgment against Rogers includes:

A civil penalty of $5,000.

$5,400 to reimburse the homeowner for his company’s work that had to be redone by another contractor to pass the building code.

The balance from the previous consent judgment, $32,577.

An additional $1,000 penalty for violating the consent judgment.

$851 for the district attorney’s expenses.

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.