TV-6 Investigates: Rock Hard Concrete

excavator

(CORRECTION: This script has been updated to reflect the front door TV-6 Investigates knocked on belonged to an address connected to Brassfield. Brassfield does not live or own the home at the address.)

SCOTT COUNTY, Iowa. (KWQC) — A good foundation is the most important part of any home. It’s the base on which everything stands. A Scott County homeowner has had to delay adding on to her home because she said her concrete contractor made a critical mistake. Now she’s looking at thousands in additional costs to correct it. That prompted her to call TV-6 Investigates. We uncovered a string of lawsuits and complaints against the concrete contractor, Rock Hard Concrete.

As she watched an excavator ripping up her new addition’s foundation, Scott County homeowner Cindy Dykes wanted to cry. She paid $8,000 for the foundation and is now starting over.

“I’ve wasted so much money this way, I had it paid off and now I’m going to have a loan,” said Dykes.

Her 1,600 square foot addition has been on hold since August.

“It’s just bad, I can’t even believe it,” said Dykes.

She first realized she had problems when her plumbing contractor Tom Lynch noticed the foundation poured by Rock Hard Concrete wasn’t where it should be.

He described it to TV-6 Investigates, “This is where he built his footing, it should be on the inside here,” said Lynch as he pointed at the concrete resting outside a new wooden form. “But it’s on the outside of where the addition actually is,” said Lynch.

When Lynch measured.

“From that point, we’re a foot out of square,” said Lynch.

Lynch said he couldn’t let the project move forward.

“I couldn’t do work that was going to be wrong, to me, I couldn’t move forward with that,” said Lynch.

Lynch called the county building inspector to check the work. The inspector confirmed to TV-6 Investigates what he told Lynch. The inspector found the foundation wasn’t square, the inspector couldn’t find any required insulation installed, and the inspector said 75 percent of the foundation didn’t have the required amount of concrete in place. The inspector suggested a few options to Lynch.

“He said if it was me, I’d have the footings completely removed because they’re so far out and there’s so many mistakes with it,” said Lynch.

So in early November, when workers should have been working inside the addition, an excavator was tearing out the foundation.

“If that’s what you do for a living, making a square foundation is as basic as it gets,” said Lynch.

The man whose company poured the foundation is Bruce Brassfield. He owns Rock Hard Concrete. Court records TV-6 Investigates looked up show that he’s been sued eight times since 2006 in small claims court in either Iowa or Illinois. Homeowners have accused Brassfield of inferior workmanship, improper and faulty concrete paving, and unfinished work. The Illinois Attorney General’s office logged five complaints. Two of those filed in 2015 claimed poor workmanship on a patio and a foundation.

No one answered when TV-6 Investigates knocked on the front door of a home connected to Brassfield. Earlier that same day he had called TV-6 Investigates and wanted to be interviewed. When our crew arrived at the location at the time Brassfield set, he was nowhere to be found.

“We had an interview arranged and now you’re backing out on me,” said TV-6 Investigator Mark Stevens during the phone call to Brassfield.

During the phone call Brassfield told us he offered to tear out the foundation and replace it. He also said Lynch’s measurement was incorrect. Brassfield said the foundation was only three inches out of square. Brassfield also said his lawyer told him not to talk to TV-6 Investigates. Both Lynch and Dykes said Brassfield never offered to replace the foundation.

Lynch said, “His (Brassfield’s) reply was well, that’s not your problem, don’t worry about it, we’ll put that off on the builder.”

Dykes said, “He was just going to cover it up and I was going to be in even more trouble.”

Lynch estimates digging up the foundation, pouring a new one, and starting over will add $25,000 to Dyke’s project.

Lynch said, “Right now we’re farther back than zero.”

Dykes is so frustrated, she’s ready to give up entirely.

“I can’t even imagine it done, it’s just been such a bad ordeal,” said Dykes.

Contractors who do work in Iowa are supposed to be registered with the state. That’s one way property owners can check to see the credentials of the firm they’re hiring. The Division of Labor Services said Rock Hard Concrete was not registered.

Dykes new concrete contractor was able to pour a new foundation before Thanksgiving. She’ll be able to move forward with her addition over the winter.

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