By Mike Rush
St. Charles County, MO (KSDK) - Their new roof was paid for, but soon they were floored to find out they were being sued to pay for it all over again.
It happened to a St. Charles County couple, but it could just as easily happen to you.
"It's a big decision because it is going to be there so long," said Branham Rosick.
She and her husband couldn't be happier with their new roof.
"It's beautiful and it does its job," she said.
To replace their old, hail-damaged roof, they chose architectural shingles in a color called "storm cloud."
But little did the Rosick's know, another storm was brewing; a legal one.
"It's like a bully, it's pay up or we're coming after you," said Rosick.
Months after the roof was installed, the Rosick's got a notice in the mail.
"The shingle supply company has decided to file a mechanics lien against our house," she said.
Dealers Service and Supply Company stated the roofer, Frank Vandevender, owner of Frank and Associates, still owned money on the job, even though the Rosicks had paid in full.
The company was trying to recoup Vandevender's debt from the Rosicks and a number of Vandevender's other customers.
It's all perfectly legal. In fact, Branham Rosick even signed a form giving consent for it. Although she says she was fooled into thinking that this was just a delivery slip for the supplies.
"My heart just dropped to my stomach because all of a sudden I'm responsible for this," she said.
Frank Vandevender would not be interviewed on camera, but on the phone admitted he owes his supplier tens of thousands of dollars. But the roofer claims he had an arrangement to pay off the debt while separately paying up front for new jobs like the Rosick's house.
Bob Vatterott is president of Dealers Service and Supply.
"I have nothing against these poor homeowners. I just have to pay my bills," he said.
Vatterott disagrees with Vandevender's understanding of their payment arrangement, but says after a while it didn't matter anyway.
"He didn't pay his old bills, he didn't pay his current bills. He stopped paying any of the bills and he filed bankruptcy which was a complete surprise to me," he said.
Vatterott believes the state needs to adopt a law requiring home improvement contractors be licensed and bonded.
"Financial responsibility, competency, criminal background, all of that needs to be incorporated in some sort of state control," Vatterott said.
While other homeowners have settled, the Rosicks, who firmly believe Vatterott did get their money from the roofer, have hired a lawyer and are fighting the lawsuit. And they want to make sure other homeowners are aware of the possibility a supplier could sue them.
"It's got nothing to do with us. It's strictly between contractor and supplier, but it's kind of been shoved at our doorstep," she said.
So how do you protect yourself?
5 on Your Side checked with the experts at the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis and the Home Builders Association. Both groups tell 5 on Your Side if you're having any kind of home improvement work done by a contractor who uses a supplier, demand what's called a lien waiver. That's a document signed by the supplier that assures the bills have been paid. Get that waiver in exchange for their final payment.
Meanwhile, Frank Vandevender says he filed for bankruptcy, but is now working under a new company named St. Louis Roofing and Siding.