By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator
MARYVILLE (WATE) – A family in Maryville is having second thoughts about the contractor they hired in May to remodel their kitchen. They say the job that the contractor started, but then stopped.
The contractor in this case claims he has done nothing wrong.
Hiring the right contractor is the key to the success of your home improvement project. If things go wrong, the job can turn out to be a nightmare.
In late May, Tommy Holliday hired a contractor to remodel the kitchen in his home.
“We wanted to open up the kitchen to give it more space, so they were to put half a wall in here,” said Holliday.
He says the job started on time, but work performed by the crew is substandard. That half wall the contractor put up is not straight.
The pattern or layout of the new flooring is off. It isn’t all oriented in the same direction. Holliday says his wife didn’t like it.
“My wife confronted them about it. They wanted to argue it was alright. She said, ‘I’m the home owner. I live here. Correct it;'” he said.
The window sill above the sink had been marble, but is now inexpensive wood that will likely deteriorate when it gets wet.
Holliday says when the construction crew removed the wall behind his stove, the wiring in the ceiling was simply chopped in half. He took us upstairs into his attic and showed us how the wiring had been hooked up by the construction crew.
“We have an open splice right here. You can see where they tied the wires together, but they didn’t put a junction box in,” he said.
That violates county code and creates a fire hazard.
“That is nothing to what is right there,” said Holliday, pointing to more wires. “These are lines they chopped out, left them live laying on our installation. We found them by touching them. It shocked us.”
Holliday is a four year Navy veteran and felt a kinship when he hired Battalion Construction, a veteran-owned business based in Maryville.
That contract drawn up in May by Battalion owner Josh Alford is vague. There is no description of the materials to be used, start and finish dates or even payment terms.
When Holliday brought this to Alford’s attention, an email was sent outlining a few more details including the total cost of $7,200.
“I gave him money. They kept making these promises: ‘It’s going to get better. We are going to fix this. Don’t worry, don’t worry. It is going to be a plus,'” he said.
With Battalion Construction on the job for more than a month, Holliday says the work sputtered, then stopped after he has paid $10,000 to the contractor.
“They wouldn’t show up to work. They said, ‘We’ll be there tomorrow.’ No one would show up. That didn’t happen one time; that happened several times.”
To get a better understanding of what went wrong, we went to Battalion Construction to speak with Josh Alford. The business address is actually a home where we found lots of construction material scattered around the yard.
We reached out to Alford and he agreed to meet us, but he then canceled the arrangements twice.
However, in several text messages, Alford said, “I know that I did everything proper on that job and had been very responsive to the family. We had about 12 hours of labor left to fix anything that was wrong. I had been spending my own money on the job for labor and materials. We never had a set budget or price, it was a very hard remodel, we were doing everything we could to get it done correctly.”
“I would like a refund. I’d say I would start with $10,000,” said Holliday.
Alford says he’s willing to give only a $1,000 refund. The two continue their negotiations while the kitchen remains unfinished.
On his business card, Josh Alford claims he is licensed. He may have a county business license, but when we checked the state’s licensed contractor list, neither Alford nor his company is on it.
Holliday admits he made mistakes, starting with the contract. Once a home improvement remodeler is hired the general rule of thumb is to have a written contract with all the details spelled out including the costs, a timetable for payments, start and completion dates, and usually the first draw should be no more than one third of the total cost.