New flooring installed for family with medically fragile child after more than a year of contacting Home Depot
HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - A Henrico family with a medically fragile 5-year-old has new flooring in their home after more than a year of trying to work with Home Depot to repair or replace the flooring.
Jeff and Lauren Schooler’s youngest child, Hannah, has several medical challenges. In 2017, she was born with Down syndrome. By the time she was five months old, Hannah had had three surgeries, including open-heart surgery. At about a year old, she suffered a bowel perforation and nearly died. Hannah went into cardiac arrest in the operating room, and while they were able to revive her, she suffered an anoxic brain injury. Despite all she has endured, Hannah continues to be an example for her family.
“Friends always ask me, ‘how is Hannah?’ Hannah will wake up with a smile and go to bed with a smile, and there is no better joy in that as a parent,” said Jeff Schooler.
In March 2019, the family decided to replace the carpet in their home with Pergo Outlast + flooring, a laminate wood floor. The Schoolers thought the smooth surface would be better for Hannah.
“She was starting to get to the mobile phase, starting to get inquisitive,” explained Jeff Schooler.
By Nov. 2019, Hannah was back in the hospital, this time in the Pediatric ICU, after catching a cold, and ended up with her needing to have a tracheostomy with her being ventilator dependent. Hannah also has a compressed spinal cord, living in a cervical collar 24/7.
Hannah came home from the hospital in Feb. 2020. During that time, the Schoolers became concerned about gaps that started showing up in the laminate wood floors during the winter months.
“We realized we needed to act on the floor before the one-year installation warranty was up. We contacted Home Depot, who sent the installer, Romanoff [Renovations], out to inspect. The couple that installed our floor came and inspected it and said that it was not an installation problem and must be a product issue. We contacted Home Depot again, and they said they would have the [flooring] representative come out. By the time they arranged this, the weather had warmed up, and all of the gaps closed,” explained Lauren Schooler. “In early Feb. 2021, my husband reached out to Romanoff yet again, who now claimed the installation was out of warranty.”
Lauren Schooler says a Home Depot representative later came back to their home, and a report determined there was an installation issue with the flooring.
“The first proposal was to place thresholds - bumps, in several places on our first floor to give the floor a place to expand and contract. We advised that we could not have thresholds in these places because they would be a danger to our daughter and make navigating her in her wheelchair, and with her ventilator set up, dangerous,” said Lauren Schooler. “We told them we would never have purchased this flooring if it would have required thresholds in our daughter’s most frequently traveled areas. When the world itself is not set up for people with disabilities, to begin with, we adapt when we’re out there. But this is our home, and it has to be a safe place for her, and that is what I told them.”
The Schoolers say the dangers with the floors opening and closing come from the possibility of Hannah’s wheelchair, wheels from the ventilator, a caretaker transporting her getting a toe caught in a gap, or having to navigate transitions in the home.
“We are just looking for resolution because what we are experiencing is not what was described to us in the beginning. The initial measurer did not describe, ‘hey, you are going to have openings, do you really want this product?’” said Jeff Schooler. “It is all about communication. If the first people we contacted would have listened, versus saying ‘no, this has got to be how it is.’ It is all about advocating and doing what is right.”
The On Your Side Investigators first reached out to Home Depot via email and received a call. The Schooler family later received the following email:
“We received [a] response from our Service Leadership team offering two resolutions for your selection to include either replacement installation with a glue down hardwood or a check payment in the amount of Ten Thousand Dollars and Zero Cents ($10,000.00), to replace with provider of your choice.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to rectify this matter. You are a valued The Home Depot, customer and we sincerely appreciate your business!!”
”We picked a life proof, which is a luxury vinyl plank, similar to what we have. It doesn’t have any wood in it at all. You don’t have to worry about expansion and contraction,” explained Lauren Schooler. “It is one solid, uninterrupted surface, and when you are wheeling a child in her wheelchair or pulling a five-legged ventilator pole, you can’t navigate speed bumps.”
In a statement to NBC12, Home Depot wrote:
“Our hearts go out to Hannah and the entire Schooler family as they work to provide her a safe and comfortable home. We understand their frustration and appreciate the opportunity to make it right.”
The family scheduled a new installation date with Romanoff Renovations. The website states it “handles flooring installation of carpet, hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and tile for all Home Depot residential and commercial flooring needs within its service footprint.”
“We had a wonderful experience with Casey from Romanoff. He completely understood. He said, ‘what’s right is right,’” said Lauren Schooler. ”I asked him point-blank, ‘was this floor installed properly?’ One, he said, no. I said, ‘was it appropriate for our home?’ He said, ‘without transitions? No.’”
The installation of the new floors began on Feb. 21. The family now has the smooth surface they have been hoping for.
“The biggest lesson of this is take a minute and listen to what someone has to say to you. It may be so very different than what you’re experiencing,” explained Lauren Schooler. “We weren’t just people complaining about a floor - there was a life behind that floor.”
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