About My House

After 8 years diligently rebuilding my credit and saving up a sizeable down payment for my very first house, I purchased a beautiful four-bedroom home in Columbia Heights, MN (a suburb of the Minneapolis / St. Paul area) in May of 2013. With a surplus of houses in the market, prices were low, and the timing couldn't have been better.
 
However, I never suspected that the beautiful walls and finishing work were secretly hiding building code violations and hazardous living conditions. Days later when my plumbing began leaking inside the walls it became clear that I had become a victim of "predatory remodeling". The problems have left me without a working kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room for months, and half of my house is completely unusable. With no immediate legal options or recourse, I am now responsible for completing structural, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC repairs estimated at more than $75,000 before the city building inspector declares the dwelling uninhabitable.
 
The experience has left me with a crippling amount of debt and despair. Under these circumstances, my investment will never appreciate enough value to cover the cost of repairs. Thanks to a few individuals who knew exactly how to manipulate the system, it is the first and last house I will ever own in my lifetime.

Accomplices

The following people were all involved in the sale of our home; a process which transferred the multitude of problems and hidden code violations to us. In hindsight, it is clear that they are very familiar with this type of fraud and willingly participated in it.
Remodeling work was done on our house by Paul Roald Evenson. His birthday is July 31, 1977. Paul lives at 350 Oakwood Dr #14 New Brighton, MN 55112. Paul's phone number is 612-387-8197. His facebook username is 'Stolenfates'. In a statement collected by an Anoka County investigator, Evenson claims that he was hired by his friend, the Seller, to hang some drywall and lay some flooring at our property. Evenson says that he checked the internet to make sure no permits were needed for this work, and that all other work (plumbing, electrical, structural, HVAC, etc.) was already done before he began his work. Evenson says the Seller paid him about $500 in cash for this work, and that no paper trail exists. Evenson was present at the closing where he had power of attorney for his friend, the Seller. Evenson's name was hand-written into the closing documents. At the closing, Evenson was boasting that he once refused to comply with a building inspector's orders during an argument over building code. Whether in whole or in part, Paul Evenson is responsible for remodeling our home, and is a highly-trusted associate of the Seller. I would not do business with Paul Evenson again.

When I was looking for a house, a family friend referred me to Jeff Hamson of Edina Realty. Jeff's real estate license number is 20495721. Jeff knew that this was my first experience as a buyer working with a Realtor and that I was shopping for my first house. Jeff had me sign all documents electronically by clicking, rather than going over them with me in person. When I expressed my concern over the disclosure waiver, Jeff said that it was very common, no big deal, and that if I challenged it, it would slow down the entire process and I would probably lose the house to other bidders. Prior to the sale, Jeff knew about several of the problems with the property, but he did nothing to sway me from this first-time home purchase. After the closing, Jeff became aware of the growing number of problems with the plumbing, structural issues, and so on. He suggested that I work through Edina Realty's arbitration service rather than take a more formal legal route that would offer more options. An estimated $70K-100K is needed for repairs on our property that Jeff closed at $174K. The media began to take notice when our house problems went from bad to worse. In response, Jeff authored an article for his real estate team's customer newsletter explaining the importance of choosing a Realtor who will look out for your interests because there is no such thing as a "lemon law" for houses. In contrast, we are left feeling that Jeff Hamson's primary interest was collecting his $4,769 commission at the closing, rather than steering us away from a predatory remodeler. While we have no issues with our friends at Edina Realty, I would not do business with Jeff Hamson again.

Tony OskooiBefore the purchase, our property was listed by Tony Oskooi of Bridge Realty. Tony had a relationship to the Seller, and was uncooperative during an investigation into our predatory remodeling case. Bridge Realty took a $4,845 commission for listing the fraudulent property for the Seller, $495 of which went to Tony himself. I would not do business with Tony or Bridge Realty again.
Before the purchase, our property was listed by agent Jordan To of Bridge Realty. Jordan had a relationship to the Seller, and was uncooperative during an investigation into our predatory remodeling case. Jordan To took a $2,000 commission for listing the property on the Seller's behalf. I would not do business with Jordan or Bridge Realty again.

When the Seller needed to discreetly list his illegally remodeled property, he asked his friend Sadrian Trung Huynh to help him find a listing agent. Sadrian introduced the Seller to his former colleague Jordan To of Bridge Realty. His Facebook username is 'sadrian.huynh' and Sadrian's LinkedIn profile is maintained online. When he's not participating in real estate exploits, Sadrian Huynh fancies himself a boxer, MMA fighter, actor, model, and online gambler.

The inspector who checked out our house before the purchase was Patrick Cullen of 1st Step Home Inspection Services. Choosing a qualified home inspector is critical, and a great guide for that is in Mike Holmes' book "The Holmes Inspection". I wish I had read this book before buying our house, because I would have learned NEVER to hire a home inspector that was referred by your Realtor. I highly recommend studying this book as a first line of defense against predatory remodeling. I would not do business with Patrick Cullen or 1st Step Home Inspection Services again.

A Commitment to the Public

I maintain this blog to increase awareness of predatory remodeling and the fact that there is no clear legal recourse for victims. In my case, justice may never be served. However, I intend to publish my insights to help homebuyers look for warning signs, measure risk, and avoid becoming victims themselves. Furthermore, I am actively working with my city council to enact new ordinances to close legal loopholes, and establish recourse for victims. I will fight for these changes in my county and state, working with legislators to bring predatory remodeling to an end.