Jay Porter and his partner wrote a check for tens of thousands of dollars to Ewing & Clark Construction for a remodel-in-progress to their Leschi-area house before they left town for Thanksgiving. But when the couple returned a week later, employees of the company said they were all laid off on December 1st, Porter says.
Now, despite paying for 80 percent of the work, Porter says the floor still isn’t done, the plumbing doesn’t run, and the electricity isn’t wired. But—for the work that is done, such as the building frame and the drywall—Ewing & Clark hasn't paid the subcontractors, including a lumber company. Several of those subcontractors have now put liens on Porter’s house.
“To find out that nobody had been paid back to August is really shocking,” says Porter. He and his partner have hired a lawyer to determine their liability to the subcontractors.
Rick and Roxanne Andrews, co-owners of Andrews Drywall, are trying to collect $22,000 for four jobs they did for Ewing & Clark.
"They got us to rush to get our portion of the job done so they could draw money from the homeowner," says Rick Andrews, co-owner of Andrews Drywall along with his wife Roxanne Andrews. "I truly believe that their supervisor… knew that we weren’t going to be paid but still pushed us to get the work done."
The phone for Ewing & Clark, which builds townhouses and remodels homes, currently goes to voicemail during all hours of the day. Emails to the employees bounce. And the company is rumored to file for bankruptcy any day now.
“We could not get a hold of anybody,” says Roxanne Andrews. “We took invoices to all of the homeowners.” She adds, “Our people were paid, our suppliers are paid. It would be on and Rick and me. We just lose that money for our business.”
Bankruptcies are up 40 percent this year in Washington State. And a foreclosure spike will continue to have repercussions the real-estate and construction markets.
“I know everyone is having kind of a rough time right now,” says Roxanne Andrews. But, she says, “Don’t take any more work if you can’t pay your people. I just don’t think it’s right and fair.”
“When they asked us for another check a week before they are going bankrupt,” Porter says, “I think they had a pretty clear idea of where they were at.”
Ewing & Clark Construction—which is no longer affiliated with Ewing and Clark Real Estate—reportedly had several customers in the Seattle area. The owner, David Bevens, did not return calls to comment.