Monday, March 20, 2006
Help Me Howard: Hole In House
A car slammed into her son's bedroom but that was just the beginning of problems for one South Florida mom. After a contractor leaves the repair job half finished. Help Me Howard to the rescue. Here's the night team's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--Anita had her hands full this afternoon... Watching her five-year-old son and her infant granddaughter.
Anita Parente: "She don't want that...she is sleeping."
A whole house, and a hole in the house.
Anita Parente: "I was just in shock... I had my hands to my face and I was just like oh my gosh, there is a car in my room."
It was a Lincoln that had careened off Commerical Boulevard. Leaving behind a mirror as it plowed into Dustin's bedroom.
Anita Parente: "And the headboard is right here...and his pillow was down to the middle of the bed...and the headboard was on top. That would have been his head...that would have killed him...that would have killed him..."
Dustin survived because he was at a friends house that night. Anita felt lucky. Well as lucky as you can feel with a hole in your house.
Anita Parente: "The worst nightmare was, I tried to get contractors and because of all the hurricane damage nobody was calling me back..."
Finally in December a contractor showed up, amazingly it was on the weekend.
Anita Parente: "He came out on a Sunday...he was like, 'I heard your message, I was real concerned, your kids' room' and I was like 'Wow.' He came out on a Sunday. This is really good, and um -- woops!"
Like the plywood, Anita's hopes would soon be crashed. She gave the contractor a $3,300 deposit in January. Then began to wait.
Anita Parente: "Then I started calling him asking whats going on...whats going on..."
A month and a half later, still a hole, still no return calls.
Anita Parente: "I told him be a man and call me... Tell me whats going on and if you can't do that you need to refund my $3,300 and I will find someone else."
It's now March. Since the accident, a concrete wall has been built to block other cars from crashing into homes.
The grass has grown back, and that ugly condemned sticker has faded.
Anita Parente: "You can't even see what's written on there it's so old."
But the hole is still there... And that is getting old for Anita.
Anita Parente: "I just want my house fixed... I want my little boy to have my room back."
But if she can't get the contractor to get to work, can she get her deposit back and hire someone else?
That's where Howard moves in...
Howard Finkelstein, Seven's Legal Expert: "Eventually yes. First of all always put a clause in the contract that says when the job will begin. If it doesn't you can then hire someone else. Anita doesn't have that clause so she needs to write a letter to the contractor giving him a reasonable amount of time to get started. If he doesn't then she can declare him in breach and find another contractor..."
When I spoke to the contractor he told me he had a death in the family and was out a week. He said Anita overeacted, that he had 30 or 40 other customers to get to and has not had any problems with them.
But he promised Ana he would fix Anita's home...and he did...sending a crew over to go to work.
Howard says if you are having problems repairing your home, you have options...
Howard Finkelstein: "Don't just call the contractor or the roofer or whoever you hired. Follow it up with a certified letter or a fax that tells them you mean business and you are going to sue if they continue to ignore you. And be aware if they won't give your deposit back, you will have to go to court to get it. But if the paperwork is on your side, you will get it."
Anita's house is now being fixed. The contractor told me it would not take long.
Although, Anita would argue, it took waay too long.
Anita Parente: "I am just glad it's all getting done. Once it's done I'll be just overjoyed, and my kid will have a room back."
Patrick Fraser: "Now you may not know it but some contractors sign up as many people as possible because hey, collecting deposits is nice. To make sure you don't get put at the back of the line, politely stay after them. Remember the old squeaky wheel gets the grease saying."
Contracted a problem you cant get repaired? Don't hole up in a corner, contact us. We'd smash our fingers if we tried to drive a nail but we can deliver some legal solutions.
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