"Get it in writing!" That's the advice a South Richmond woman wishes she'd taken when she hired a contractor.
Jacqueline Gee paid for bigger doorways for her wheelchair. The project started out great, but there's a major disagreement over what those doors look like and how they work.
Gee is not happy with the final product.
The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation says on it's website: the best way to stop problems before the job begins is with your written contract. In this case, there isn't one.
Gee spends her waking hours in a wheelchair. The amputee and diabetic with severe back problems tells why she needs wider doorways and bigger doors.
"When I pushed through the door and I break a piece of the siding off, like right here, and sometimes I put a hole in the door trying to get through the doors," said Gee.
Her sister Wanda Garrard helped her find a contractor who was empathetic and willing to do the renovations cheaper than others Garrard had contacted.
Their first bump was over the work moving too slowly. Tired of waiting on the doors, Garrard called 12.
"We can't go to the bathroom in private when we're here," said Garrard. "Her nurse, her aide that come, there's no privacy for them and her 16-year-old son, he has no privacy in his room."
We got them talking again, and Contractor Chris Carroll set a date to install the oversized doors, but they are not what Gee or Garrard thought they would be after paying $1,800.
"I'm afraid this will fall down on her or anyone else that's coming through here," said Garrard. "It's shaking and wobbling as in opening and closing the door."
In addition to the doors that are too heavy for Gee to pull open or close, there's the screeching noise that's intolerable.
We showed up while Contractor Chris Carroll was finishing up.
"$2,300 for the total, for the whole job, and to widen the hallway and turn around and widen one...two...three...four doorways. Recasting, retooling, and I’m putting on four doors," said Carroll.
"We want real doors. This is a bunch of plywood," said Carroll.
Carroll says he was trying to help, and it backfired on him. He says he will correct it and give them what they want.
"If I've got to spend every dime I've made in just hardware, then hey, that's what you've got to do sometimes. You can't make everybody happy," said Carroll.
That's the danger of not having a written contract that spells out everything from materials to the start and end date. A contract protects both the contractor and homeowner.
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