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‘Dream barn’ goes sour: Tumalo ranch owner frustrated by dispute with unlicensed contractor

(Update: Adding video, comments from barn owner, state Construction Contractors Board)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Mindy Wolfe had a vision for a dream barn on her 10-acre property in Tumalo. In August 2019, she hired a California-based contractor to make her vision come to life. However, that dream has turned into a bit of a "nightmare," as she put it.

It didn't start out that way, though.

"When I grew up, we didn't have a lot," Wolfe told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday. "But (my parents) taught us kids that, if we want something to work hard and dream big, and you can achieve it. This was going to be my dream barn, and hopefully, my last barn."

The company Wolfe hired is called MD Barnmaster. Wolfe said it's a prominent barn-builder, well-known across the nation. That's why she felt confident bringing them on for the $180,000 project.

"Ever since then, it's been kind of a nightmare," Wolfe said.

Problems quickly arose, from windows being installed upside-down to water leaking inside the building during a heavy rainstorm in November.

"We had to put up plastic all along the top there," Wolfe said as she walked NewsChannel 21 through the barn. "(We) duct taped it up so that the water was running away from the walls, because I didn't want all this finish work damaged."

Wolfe said she asked MD Barnmaster to pay for the repairs, which total more than $10,000. During that dispute, Wolfe learned MD Barnaster, and the subcontractor it hired, do not have licenses to work in the state of Oregon.

That led to a $5,000 fine from the Oregon Construction Contractors Board, or CCB.

"That's the maximum fine we're allowed to issue,” said CCB Enforcement Program Manager Stan Jessup. “They didn't contest the violation They have been making progress payments on paying the debt."

There is a way you can check to see whether or not a company has a license. You go to the CCB’s website, type in the company's name and hit search.

In this case, searching MD Barnmaster’s search result said, “Never Been Licensed.”

Jessup said, as of now, it does not look like the company has filed any paperwork to obtain one.

As for Wolfe, she said this has been a very frustrating process.

“I just want to relax in our new home and enjoy life with the horses,” she said. “It's just been really hard."

Wolfe hopes MD Barnmaster will pay for the damages. Then she'll hire a licensed contractor to turn this nightmare back into her dream.

NewsChannel 21 attempted to contact MD Barnmaster by email and phone, but has not yet heard back.

Author Profile Photo

Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

Comments

15 Comments

  1. There are plenty of local contractors in C.O. Some are honest and I know at least one that isn’t.

    Does seem curious she’d pick someone from out of state.

    The construction industry in general is pretty busy here in Central Oregon. Perhaps timing was an issue?

    Nevertheless, best to go local.

  2. This article doesn’t say – did she pick the contractor or did she purchase a kit from a company and her purchase agreement included the structure being erected which could mean the company picked the contractor?

      1. Sorry, but if the news room is that hard up to publish a story about a barn without being good journalists and getting all the details then its just irresponsible journalism.
        Theres also plenty of contractors that are licensed and just as incompetent. The requirements to get a license with the CCB are pretty lean.
        One would think if you are spending 180k for a barn, you would send it out for bid and do your own due diligence. This story doesnt have the desired effect of making people feel sorry for the homeowner. It just makes the homeowner look like a fool for not doing her homework before hiring.

    1. From their website, it looks like MD Barnmaster is a barn kit manufacturer. I don’t think they need a CCB number for that. Either the owner hired someone else to actually install the kit, or MD Barnmaster sub’d the install out to them; they’re the ones who need to have the CCB, which apparently they don’t.

      She could sue, but $10K is probably too small for a lawyer to get involved. I just checked and $10K is the maximum amount in Small Claims Court, though. Either way, it doesn’t exactly look like she’s hurting (being able to plop down $180K for a barn, after all). If she comes up with the funds herself she can just chalk it up as one of those Life Lessons.

  3. You mean she didn’t know he was unlicensed before she hired him? Always investigate your contractor with the contractors board, and always be sure they are licensed and licensed in the state of Oregon in this case. Lesson learn, and an expensive one at that.

  4. I have 5 barns on my property. They all came in kits and were erected by a local licensed contractor. Just because you buy a kit does not mean you have to use who they send you. Anyone that used an unlicensed company to do construction work is just asking for it and deserves what they get. There is a reason why you should hire a state bonded contractor. The bond protects you.

  5. Barney, third paragraph – “dream bi,g”. There are several interesting points in the comments, the one at the forefront is does someone selling a kit have to have the contractor’s license, or does their subcontractor doing the install have to have the contractor’s license? It could be worth a phone call to the county to check.

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