Veteran family now $75,000 in the ‘hole’ following failed construction project
SHELBY COUNTY, Ky. (WAVE/Gray News) - If you ever visit the Sacras’ Kentucky home, you would think they’re getting a new pool given that giant hole in their yard.
But you’d be wrong.
The military family moved into their new home last March and made plans to make the home bigger with an addition.
Fast forward four months, and that addition came to a halt. The hole that general contractor Tim Ridgway dug for a basement grew to the point that it threatened to swallow their home.
“It’s extremely dangerous,” Kirsten Sacra told WAVE 3 News. “Now, if you come close to it, it starts, the mud just crumbles.”
Sacra and her husband Ricky, who is now active in the National Guard after serving in the U.S. Army for 25 years, hired Ridgway with Sun Vow Construction as the general contractor.
After the couple says he kept digging, the hole’s walls kept caving in. Since then, they say their lives have been kind of nerve-wracking, even sleeping in the front end of the house along with their children.
“Because we are completely terrified that our house, the current house, was going to start to shift this way and shift and fall in, too,” Sacra said.
Ricky had to add wooden beams to help support the back end of the home, which was just feet from the hole Ridgway had dug.
They say they are now short about $75,000 to fix the damage and start building again. In addition, the couple says they’d already paid Ridgway $7,000.
The couple says Ridgway is nowhere to be found.
“He won’t answer calls, won’t answer text messages, anything,” Sacra said. “We were like, ‘Look, just make this right.’”
A WAVE investigation into Ridgway found several red flags.
For example, Ridgway’s business didn’t have an active website, which he told the Sacras was under construction.
“He has all this stuff, he’s an open book,” Sacra recalled when first meeting with Ridgway. “Brought over all of his notebooks, (said) ‘This is what I’m doing.’”
The Shelby County Courthouse did not have the occupational tax information the county requires. Also, there were no business records under Ridgway’s name or Sun Vow Construction.
A search with Kentucky’s Secretary of State yielded no records either.
But there was one website where Ridgway’s name does appear -- Kentucky’s sex offender registry.
“He’s been around our kids for, you know, months and months,” Sacra said.
WAVE 3 confirmed he was convicted in Hardin County, Kentucky, in 2008 for sodomy in the third degree, which is a felony charge.
State records indicate Ridgway served a little less than three years and was released with several conditions.
After Ridgway stopped showing up at the Sacras’ home, WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters did track him down, at a liquor store he was working at despite being arrested for DUI just four months ago.
At first, Ridgway said he didn’t want to talk about the Sacras’ project, telling WAVE 3 News he has an attorney for whom he did not want to provide a phone number.
“I was dismissed from the job and threatened,” Ridgway said before WAVE 3 News was asked to leave by a co-worker.
While Ridgway’s arrests were criminal, working as a general contractor without a general contractor license in Kentucky isn’t. That’s because Kentucky is one of a handful of states that don’t require it as long as the contractor has insurance. Only plumbers, electricians and HVAC workers must have a license, according to state law.
“Anybody can just be like, ‘I’m a general contractor now,’ and they can take you for anything you got, I guess,” Sacra said.
Law enforcement’s hands are usually tied if any work has been done. Homeowners like the Sacras are often referred to attorneys to try to sue, a long and expensive process that can require even more patience.
“He’s obviously not going to come forward and be like, ‘Let me do what’s right,’” Sacra said. “I want to make sure no one else is taken by this guy.”
A new contractor, Luke Hair, of Hair Construction, working with Champion Waterproofing, told WAVE 3 News he’s never seen anything like it. He said the plans for the home Ridgway submitted included tearing down three support walls, two of which were exterior walls, but when he looked closer, Ridgway had not included a replacement for the walls or any other type of support.
Hair said the Sacras’ home was one rainstorm away from possibly caving in. He is now helping the Sacras but says they are still short between $75,000 to $100,000 to finish the home given the repairs that had to be done.
With the news of a lack of supporting walls the addition would have had, she now considers the massive hole a blessing in disguise.
The Sacras have set up an online fundraiser to help fund the costs of the project.
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