A cautionary tale about what can go wrong when hiring an unlicensed contractor. A Terrebonne woman was left without her money or her completed home.
Jana Hoffman moved to Terrebonne in June to be closer to her last living child in Redmond after tragically losing two sons at the age of 20.
A month after buying space and property through a Facebook Marketplace post, she arrived to find the work far from finished.
“No heat, no water, no plumbing, no real electricity,” Hoffman said.
She provided Central Oregon Daily News the written contract with Andrew Bidema of Bidco Inc., who was hired to do the work. It’s a decision she now says was a huge mistake.
Bidema is an unlicensed contractor.
The Construction Contractors Board of Oregon (CCB), which organizes all Oregon-licensed contractors into their online database, says with proper research, Bidema’s red flags would have been clear.
He had one expired license with a complaint from a homeowner with unpaid debt. There were also two instances of working without a license, including unpaid fines on those instances.
With over $24,000 of existing unpaid claims and fines, he took Jana Hoffman’s contract last June.
“He worked after the license expired as an unlicensed business,” said Leslie Culpepper, communications and education manager at CCB.
Culpepper says accepting that contract is against state law.
Bidema lives less than 20 feet away from Hoffman in a teepee, Despite the proximity, she says she can’t get him to finish the work.
“I finally said something to him, and he ghosted me,” Hoffman said.
She paid him $50,000 total — $25,000 for the structure and an additional $25,000 to complete the utilities. It’s money she now wants back.
Central Oregon Daily News spoke with Andrew Bidema over the phone.
“I’m not sitting here stealing her money, and if she’s calling the news article, she’s acting like I’m stealing her money. And that’s B.S.” Bidema said.
Central Oregon Daily News asked him about the $24,000 in unpaid fines.
“Long story short, what went through the CCB, found out what that is, it’s a joke. That’s a joke,” he said.
He told Central Oregon Daily News he plans to pay back the fines, but would not say when or how.
“You will continue to accrue fines,” Culpepper said of Bidema’s unpaid total. “Penalties can become more severe, and we do enforce them.”
A lesson learned for Jana Hoffman.
So, what if you hire a contractor? How can other consumers avoid the same issues? Culpepper provided this advice.
“Always check the license check to make sure that the business that you’re hiring has a CCB license. Look it up on our (CCB) website,” she said. “Make sure it’s active and then click into the record, and you can see information about unpaid civil penalties maybe or complaints against the contractor.”
Hoffman hired another contractor, this time licensed, to complete the work on her home. That was another $12,000 out of her pocket.
“I definitely want to get my money back,” she said.
Central Oregon Daily News asked Bidema if he planned on refunding Hoffman any of her money. It was a question Bidema had a hard time answering.
“If the woman can legitimately talk to me and not demand $25,000 back … she needs to calm down and find her wits,” he said. “But, yes. Of course I will make it right.”