SHEFFIELD LAKE, OH (WOIO) - 19 Action News has covered many home contracting horror stories. However, Doris Nay of Sheffield Lake's home contracting nightmare is one that's near the top of the list.
"He left all this mess. This is the ceiling it fell in. He took all the lights out, the fans out, and all the stuff that was covering the window," says Doris. She believed her contractor when "he said it would all be done to my satisfaction and in live in condition."
The contractor was hired to re-model her home after it was nearly destroyed by a fire around Christmas 2011.
She picked this contractor after seeing and liking the work he did in a neighbor's home.
"They did such a nice job there. I told them my house needed repairs. I couldn't get a hold of the people who I wanted to do it, so I hired them to do it, says Doris. Things didn't go as planned. There was a crack the length of the house.
Experts say it's not all the contractors' fault, which is a reason we are keeping him anonymous. You can have a consumer that has never done this before and a contractor that does this everyday looking at the project from two completely different vantage points.
Enzo Perfetto, owner of Enzoco homes is an active member of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland. He looked at video of the house to analyze what went wrong. Enzo looked over the house beginning with the contract. "I hate to summarize it simplistically but I think a lot of what went wrong here could have been circumvented by more detail in the contract and specifications," says Mr Perfetto.
It vaguely explains what was to be fixed and gives a general time frame. That isn't enough contractual details, according to the housing expert. Enzo says, "Not only specifications in terms of what products should be used but what to expect at what point. After a month we can expect this amount of work to be done. He has a level of understanding of what the consumer is going to expect from him."
When a communication breakdown occurred, emotions took over and calls were ignored. As a result, the work wasn't finished.
Enzo Perfetto explains, "when you can't have both parties in the house and walk through and say okay, this is what I'll fix, this is what I won't fix, and when all this is done the check will be waiting, then, it's a communication breakdown on both sides."
A pipe burst in the house causing a mess. There was no heat in the home, but the water was still on.
Some say, contractors in this position should have warned the inexperienced homeowner that this could happen. Others may say that Doris should have known you can't leave a house with no heat in the middle of winter.
Just a little bit of extra effort on the contractors part and a little more common sense on the homeowners part could be a big difference maker. But, none of these problems have to happen if you are looking to build or remodel a home. 19 Action news has some steps to take to protect yourself from a home contracting nightmare:
- Research your contractor
- Call your local building department
- Talk to your home builders association and check if the contractor is a member
The Home Builders Association has a code of Ethics for all their members to follow, including construing education, fair contracts, following all laws and regulations and fair competition. There are requirements to join the association including being sponsored by a current member, being approved by a 2/3 vote from the board, and paying association dues.
As for Doris or anyone else in a nightmare home improvement predicament, good communication with your contractor can resolve most issues. A resolution is needed for both parties and sometimes that can involve getting outside housing inspectors to weigh in and help negotiate a settlement.