Follow
Share

My parents, ages 78 and 89, commissioned a remodeling company to remove their existing tub and install a fully functional handicap shower. The work was very shabby requiring multiple post construction fixes, not to mention they pay in excess of $9000 (with no shower door). The company wants my parent to pay another $1400-$1500 for a door for the shower. Is it me or does this seem extremely pricey? When speaking to my parents neither of them seem to know what they signed and agreed to in the contract. All they can articulate is what they expected and the fact they did not get it. Any layperson can speak to my parents 5 minutes and realize they do not quite get it. Is there some type of law against practicing business in this manner?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
maybe that's what my parents should have done; they still haven't gotten theirs
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Sassy75 I'm sorry but you are wrong about your cost guess. My family does this for a living. There are many expenses in a remodel that are not calculated by the inexperienced, and certainly not without knowing the extent of this particular remodel. Like Freqflyer stated, there's plumbing that has to be moved, drains that have to be centered. (no easy task no matter what subfloor is being used) Did you calculate into your mental note all of the labor involved in the demolition, treatment of mold perhaps, reframing if necessary, insulating the walls for noise pollution, fixtures, handcap improvements, leveling the floor to slope to the drain, etc. Then materials, a walk-in tub/shower is in fact $3000 by itself. If that's not what was used, there could be a shower base and a spill guard, glass shower walls or doors are very pricey depending on the style and thickness of the glass. Then there's the variation in labor pricing across the US. In California the labor is extensively higher than in Texas. You may be making a judgment call based on your area without enough information to do so. $9k is not unreasonable, but without more information on the actual installation and products used I can't explain further why. You were, however, right about collecting her money after a judgement. That's not easy, but you have options. You can also sell this debt to a collection agency. You'll only make about 50% of the debt owed you, but it's easier than waiting and fighting for money.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

first, do you have POA? the contractor who restored my dad's garage after a fire wouldn't talk to me because I didn't have one, though technically they were in the right; it was just the way they handled it, first, it was an insurance claim and this was/is a nationwide company that first handled the mitigation and clean-up at no cost because of their contract with the insurance company, but because they were already at the house, made it easy for them to then just present a contract for the restoration and dad to sign, not realizing he was signing that as a pay job, which didn't have to be done by them, not entirely sure the insurance company's requirements since things have changed so much along those lines, so not sure that they would have paid grandson and friends, et al, to do the work, like they wanted, or, more so, though don't think they would have paid them directly since not licensed - so not really sure would have wanted them to do the work or what might have been the result there but that's a different issue - but whether they would have just cut dad a check like had done in the past on everything when other relatives - my uncle's, who were licensed contractors - had done other insurance work, though, again, don't think were ever paid directly, but, again, think requirements have changed; know they were already upset, I think, over the last check they cut, when had to, at least at that point, because he was grandfathered in he'd had insurance with them for so long, even though regs had changed, that he'd never had the repairs done, so they'd probably expect that if they did the same again, the same thing would happen again, although this time he had them wanting the money, so....but not to say repairs would be done; anyway, through not understanding, he did sign the contract; now, several things, not only did he not understand he was signing for a pay job, but even then that was fine as long as insurance was paying for everything, but while in the past when he'd gotten a check with uncles doing repair they accepted that amount that insurance gave without considering his deductible of course these people didn't so while they gladly took the insurance check, which was sent to them directly, that wasn't all they wanted, they also wanted the deductible amount, which is where the issue began to arise. Now, having said that, apparently somewhere in the process they'd made an agreement with the insurance company over the check dad was owed by them for the loss of his personal property that it would be sent directly to them as well to cover the deductible amount, which not sure exactly why; had they gotten the idea somewhere along the way that dad didn't understand about it so this was their way of dealing with it? so anyway, not sure exactly now what transpired or didn't that led to my being in touch with them, but anyway apparently who they'd made these arrangements with wound up being on vacation at that point - kinda like another situation with person making arrangements then no longer being there when time came - so person there said no way would that type check be sent to contractor - they couldn't do that; had to go to dad, so he gets said check in mail, somehow contractor finds out - they'd talked to insurance company to find out why they hadn't gotten it and gets told - and shows up? to get so after much? persuasion manages - dad doesn't want to cheat them more than he's willing to keep the check even if he doesn't understand? but then they fail to have him sign it; do they still think it's made out to them and was just sent to dad's by mistake? so they bring? or send it back for him to sign but seems not done by one who really knows what's going on so between the two of them it ends up this time just being left so then dad does go off to the bank with it; he's not going to replace those personal items anyway, so then they're back again to get their money, so this time dad just has them fill out one of his checks - yes, had them fill it out and yes, they did but then still forgot to have him sign? signed it themselves - and, yes, I know fraud and think bank would have caught it - maybe did and called? anyway know came - was it that same time? said they thought some of their equipment - some scaffolding - had been left, so picked some up that, strangely? my uncle had been there saying with - for another whole issue - did say this was for dad's garage, right? now why weren't they replacing his door? oh, maybe seems like adjuster wouldn't approve enough for, said wasn't really damaged by fire; its issues were already there? from being run into because not going up when supposed to because of beams not being right? because of being hit? anyway causing issues with motor, which agreed to replace anyway, or did uncle do that; anyway something along those lines why had his scaffolding down there that says turned up missing, although with everything else that came to light later, not really sure who to believe but anyway did call to tell them situation, turned out they were in next town where uncle lived so he said he'd meet them to get them back so guess they didn't have much choice but seemed to really upset them but they let him have them, but now they sure wouldn't talk to me about their whole money situation or wouldn't have let me see the actual contract without me having POA since he had not been diagnosed at that point, although he did have an aide coming in per doctor's order from a prior incident but nothing enough legally yet, but they were entitled to the deductible and supposedly did do what was in contract and he wasn't worried about the rest and probably did do what was required; he was just to getting more than all his life, guess the gravy train was up
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

For example, elders are taken advantage of by contractors all the time. My mother thought it was a genius idea to hire her cleaning girl's bf to put in a new kitchen floor. NOT! When I saw what a disaster it was, I told her to get the guy back to her house to correct his mistakes!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Depending on the complexity of the job, and the materials used, 9000 dollars doors not seem out of line for a new handicapped shower installation. And the glass shower doors are huge and expensive in themselves!

There are lots of great ideas here! I would review the contract and do your best to work it out with the company, but there his never an excuse for Crappy Work. If they are unwilling to correct their shabby work, or make things right, I would take therm to small claims court. Hopefully your states small claims court maximum limit is ten thousand dollars, as somebody else had mentioned.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Before you hire a lawyer, you should try to get a copy of the contract. If the business did the work shown in the contract at the agreed price, going to court will get you nowhere. Also look for a clause that allows price increases for unexpected events. As mentioned above, there may have been damage under the existing tub that needed to be repaired or unexpected plumbing issues. You would not want the contractor to just install the new shower over leaking plumbing, right? Older homes often have some "creative" former work that needs to be corrected.

As to the shower door, if it was not in the original contract, your parents are under no obligation to have this company install one. You can call other companies to compare prices and hire someone else to install the door. It is always a good idea to get more than one estimate for any job.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

The handicap showers at hotels don't have doors. How would an aide be able to reach in from outside to help if there is a door? I think you are done with the contractor.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

what a shame. how low can people go to take advantage of the elderly.
I would contact the BBB and file a complaint Also I would contact the Consumer Affairs Bureau, they have a web site to file a complaint. I also would contact your local DA offices. and file a complaint there. these are agencies that will help you and not charge you. I also would go as far as contacting the license bureau for the plumbers
and file a complaint there. I would file a complaint with each and every one of these bureaus and if they can lead you to anyone else I would do that also. I wouldn't let
them get away with screwing with my parents....
I also had my parents bathroom done over and took the tub out and turned it into a
shower that I could roll the parents in the wheel chair into. put a handicap toilet in and also barred the entire shower and the where needed in the bathroom for them.
I did it thru home depot in 2015. no where near that price. good luck.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

It is imperative that you hire an elder law attorney. This company could be considered scam artists.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

As mentioned here, you're probably going to need a good lawyer. Another thing you can do if they paid by credit card is to call the credit card provider and report the incident and see if they can help you. If they paid by debit card, then go to their bank and take them with you and sit down with the bank manager and tell them what you told us here and have them dispute the charges. They'll pull up the account and see when the money came out of your parents' account and they should be able to dispute the charges if you all know how much came out of the account and on what day, this will help you the most and especially more so if you know the company who did the sloppy work. As mentioned here, also call not only the BBB but if I were you I would call your State Attorney General's office and ask for the fraud department to report the business that defrauded your parents. I also know that if this was a private individual who defrauded another private individual, they also have a department for that so don't be afraid to call your attorney general's office since they specialize in handling fraud against vulnerable seniors
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Nitaboo40, the price of $9k is not unreasonable to change from a bathtub to a walk-in shower. There is plumbing labor involved as the drain has to be moved to the center of shower, and the shower faucets moved higher up on the wall. Most of the cost is in the labor.

Another labor intense job is removing all of the old tile from around the bathtub area, some bathtub areas have tile up to the ceiling and replacing it with brand new tile.... and chances are when an old bathtub is removed, the floor would be damaged, thus all the old tile flooring needed to be removed and new tiles be put into place. Depending on what material was used for the floor usually it can be time using a sledge hammer the old tile out. There is also cost if the plumbers find rotting wood under the bathtub from on going small leaks, or behind the tiled walls. And the cost of removing the old bathtub from the house to the dump, etc.

Was the shower door even in the contract? Maybe that wasn't discussed or dismissed as the old bathtub might have had a shower curtain. Walk-in showers can also use a shower curtain, which are easier to keep clean compared to glass type doors. Some people use both, as the curtain gives so much more privacy.

A few years ago I was quoted $15k from a local well known plumbing company that also did bath remodeling. The bathroom was 5'x7' so it was small. The quote included removal of the old bathtub and replace with a walk-in shower, plus a brand new vanity, sink, and mirror, new tile walls and new tiled floor. The price was reasonable for my area. And I was picking out reasonably price tile, no fancy or unusual colors. Everything was going to be all white. Never got the work done as my parents all the sudden needed more of my attention. I couldn't clone myself to be two places at one time :P

And it is not unusual for the workers to come back to tweak issues that crop up.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Let's think of your parents situation first.

Have your parents been diagnosed by their doctor stating that they are incapable of handling their affairs and decisions? If so, you can petition the Probate/Family Court so that legal proceeding begin against the company.

I worked for a Contractor's license/bonding company for over 5 years. I did the paperwork for the underwriter for licensing and then worked with the underwriter for bonding.

Is the contractor licensed/bonded? This should be stated on the contract. Contact the company that issued the bond. Bonds are provided to contractors through insurance companies after an underwriting company has accepted the contractor background etc. You can place a 'mechanic's lien' (totally different definition than a mechanic) on the contractor's bond. This means that whatever monies are stated in the bond, will be held until either all issues are taken care of WITHOUT additional costs or the contractor must give all monies back to your parents. There maybe many people ahead of you on the list for the Mechanics lien, so there may not be any money left by the time your parent's name makes it to the top of the list. All of this is reported to the BBB AND the contractor can lose their bonding which means that other insurance companies will research to any issues that have been closed or are still unsatisfied.

Here's the difficult part with companies that are licensed/bonded too.

The owner of the business does not need to take the State test that is required to get the contractor license. What they do is hire someone who has passed and carries the license. Then using the license holder's background information as a contractor, they then go to an insurance company which in turn locates a License/bonding company willing to take on the account for underwriting.

When issues such as you have stated happen, the owner of the business can close that current 'business' and get paperwork required to open another 'business' doing the same type of work.

The scamming doesn't hurt the business owner, but it does the person working for him. The person who is licensed/bonded is the one who will be hit with all the legal ramifications while the owner is lying on a beach somewhere with an umbrella drink in his hand after taking all the money out of the business account. Every time he changes the business name, a different bank account must be opened.

Was this a contract where the company came to your parent's home and they signed it. If so, there is a 3 day clause to back out of the contract. They may not have been informed of this clause or they felt they knew what they were doing by signing.

Did your parents pay all of the money upfront? Not good if they did. Contractors who usually ask or demand all monies be paid upfront are scamming thus the horrible disgusting job done. The company only needs to start the job, but then they run if it's a scam, give excuses and ask for more money even with a stated contract for cost and what they have guaranteed will be done. That is a criminal act and your parents can have charges pressed against them through the Court. The police do not get involved with these issues. This is the type of fraud that charges are actually done through the Court.

Many elderly people are afraid to do anything about these scams. They are embarrassed and don't want people to know that someone scammed them out of their hard earned money; especially family members.

These scams run neck and neck with on-line people that say they have a large amount of money coming to them, but they can't get it unless they can get money sent to them for whatever. People (even caregivers) convince elderly persons that they need to withdraw large amounts of money from their accounts, turn the money over to the person who has convinced them to do this and there goes the money never to be seen again.


Start with reviewing the contract, get help if you do not understand it either. Many scammers have contracts written up that are very confusing and double talk so you don't understand and no one wants to feel that they don't understand or are being scammed.

Call the County office that handles license/bonding for contractors to get information on the company. They should be able to tell you if the owner is the licensee or not

Get in touch with the Contractor license/bonding company to get the paperwork started on the Mechanic's lien

Ask for the name of the insurance company that holds the bond for the company and get the paperwork done so that they have record of what is happening with the company

Get the paperwork started with the Court so that investigators will be assigned to find the business owner and arrest

It doesn't matter what is or isn't a reasonable dollar amount for a remodeling job. The issue you're looking at is whether or not your parents were scammed by a fly by night business.

This may also be the time that you and siblings need to sit down with your parents and discuss how to better handle finances. They'll be stubborn about is, so be prepared. You may also need to think about petitioning the Court to become their Conservator/Guardian depending on what their doctor thinks may need to be done. You may want to get an Estate attorney involved due to this situation....do indepth research regarding Estate Attorneys....SOME scam too. Just read about all the celebs who have been scammed by both Attorneys and money managers to learn that their million dollar life style is really more of a welfare life style

I hope that this has helped you, especially the inner workings of what contractors can do to scam and what it takes to get the ball rolling.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Oh...and about using Small Claims Court. Winning is the easy part - but it does not get your money back. The Court doesn't collect for you. You simply get a piece of paper that allows you to file a judgment and then attempt to collect that judgment and that takes time and money. Many shoddy small contractors bid and perform the work as a corporate entity - which means your collection efforts can only be enforced on the corporation - not the owner or the workmen even if they are the shareholders. There are some nuances - but generally in small cases, collection is more costly than the amount to be recovered. There are, of course, companies that will pay to avoid the legal hassle, but it's more likely that if shoddy work is their stock in trade, they won't care about their reputation and will simply ignore calls, complaints, and even court judgments. That doesn't mean that you don't have the right to collect under a judgment - you do - but it will take good time and money and may never be successful.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

If you watch any of the remodeling TV shows like Property Brothers or Chip and Joanna, they talk prices and a total new bath is typically $5000. The only way materials would cost $3000-4000 is using designer quality marble, faux marble or tile. Basic tile in all sizes is relatively cheap - you can take a photo to a tile store and compare prices. As to the doors, it is customary for large showers for the elderly to be wheel-chair accessible - showers in assisted living facilities use an oversize shower curtain for privacy.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Spending the money for an attorney is a waste. Perhaps you can call the the local news company and ask if they have a consumer advocate department.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

$9,000 is even more than remodeling for the entire bathroom. I changed bath to just shower & had bars installed for much less
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Tell those aholes to come and do the job right or they will not get one thin dime from you. If they want to take you to small claims court, that's OK; you tell the judge that these creeps are incompetant
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I’m not lawyer but this is what I would do.


I suggest filing in small claims court. They have up to $10000 as their limit. Look on this chart for your state.

nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/small-claims-suits-how-much-30031


 This type of thing is what it's for. Take pictures of the problems, write one page or less about what your complaint is, and show all the paperwork passed back and forth. Keep your complaint simple and it in your own words about what your asking him/her to make a judgement on.


IMO, you have three points to make; First is the method used to pressure your parents to buy what may be considered work that requires a new contract to complete without advising them fully of that point... and their ability to understand this. Second is failing to complete the contract in a reasonable and acceptable manner that would be fulfillment of the contract. Third, I would get two statements from other contractors about the condition of the project and cost to fix any problems. Courts like to have numbers to base their decisions on as it makes their job that much easier.


Have your parents there because the judge will want to talk to them to understand their current ability to make a reasonable decision that applies to this type thing. Any good court will have seen this more than once before and ask the right questions.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Ok so I'm going to tell you something you don't want to hear. While the company is responsible to fulfill their contract to the best of their ability, and shoddy construction is not acceptable, $9000 is not an unreasonable price, depending on your area of course. A fully accessible handicap shower can cost $3-4k in materials alone. A general estimate of labor is double materials. I would encourage them to have you discuss it with the company as their representative. A lawyer/lawsuit to get a refund would cost them $20k. It's much better to ask for copies of the contract, pre-bids, and discuss with the owner of the company to make sure all repairs are made. In my area Small Claims has a cap of $5,000, so you'd have to take it to a greater court. If the original bid included the shower door, then insist it be installed, if not and you didn't already have your parents diagnosed with some kind of cognitive decline, then you will have no luck back dating a contract. Trust me, don't involve lawyers until you have to.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Messy. Our local office on aging is unable to help in such matters but we do maintain a list of local people...total remodels, I'm not sure. You would be going it alone, but might be able to use the local small claims court process depending on the dollar figure involved. There are in some places, if you do the research, (much of this is on line) laws that protect consumers from unfair business practices and as I recall here in Ohio, there was a section on taking advantage of someone's mental capacities. The challenge will be that you are fighting the battle ON BEHALF of your parents and you may need your parents to go to the court proceedings to prove your points. You must make a strong case for yourself. You need pictures...and best of all would be a local contractor who inspects the work and can attest to the poor workmanship. You will need to itemize the expenses you incur...to get this expert witness and testify (and you may have to pay him/her for their time). Is it worth it? Depending on the dollar amount and your sense of justice AND wanting to spare others the same grief who don't have a good daughter around to advocate... I can tell you I had a wonderful attorney at one point who loved me for my sense of what was right and wrong...but a case I wanted him to handle...he said it wasn't worth his time...but that I could do it, and he pointed me to the right section of the law. At that time one was entitled to 3 times the amount of the actual damages or some dollar amount I can't recall....you can't really get lost time, and you must PAY to file the case, though should they rule in your favor, the court costs will be reimbursed. Also, in small claims, it might go through a mediator first. If it is a company, they may want to settle out of court. In fact, a letter to them indicating your intention to go public to a news channel prior may inspire them enough to make good on the deal. In my case I documented the damage to my car and brakes due to faulty tire installation. I tallied up all the parts/labor it took to undo the damages, and per the law, multiplied by 3. The magistrate wanted to know how I arrived at the figure and I had my paperwork to hand to her. I also took the service manager from a car dealership I regularly patronized as a witness (and compensated him for lost time). When it came to court time the schmuck who had done the damages and refused to settle prior was a no-show which did not help their case....and it was ruled in my favor.

Not to defend the workers, and understand you have said it is very clear your parents are not totally together...but sometimes with "new" people the elders can appear quite normal, or hide their issues quite well. My mother had signs of dementia that even we overlooked for a long time..but more to the point her own physician was totally unaware until I wrote out a list and shared it with him which prompted him to do a mini-mental exam. My mom can have conversations with some people that seem quite normal. And this is someone who scored 7/30 on a cognitive assessment...
Wishing you all the best...it would be great to nail them...
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Keep in mind that ALL the BBB does is act as a data gathering center. They are NOT a regulatory agency and have ZERO power to take any action against anyone. Your best bet is for your parents to seek compensation in civil court. Bear in mind that few lawyers will take a case on contingency (only pay if you win), but they are out there. If you can't find one, their legal fees will be, of course, out of pocket and up front.

I'm so sorry this has happened. I'd like 5 minutes alone with whoever did this to your folks.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

I totally agree with cdnreader below. I would also call your local Office of the Aging. They may know some additional information. I know when my Dad passed 6 years ago my two half brothers asked and took about $100,000 of my mom's money who mentally failed after Dad's passing. I called Elder Abuse many, many times. I showed checks written to those boys, (ages 48 & 42) , one check for $21,000. They did nothing. The local police do not and claim they cannot do anything. I was beat up by one of my brothers twice .(drinking). Nothing was done on that except hospitalization for him. I took mom and myself and moved out of state. I think it is horrible to see elder's be taken advantage of. You go girl and I think that is an outrageous price. I need a new tub and under half price you mentioned. Bet they already have a bad record for this type of bad behavior. Honestly, feel your parents should get money back. Hugs and hope you get this resolved. Thank God you are there...
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

BBB is always a good route, and it’s important to help them compile complaints for any future prospective customers. 
Ask the company for a copy of the signed contract, if they expect anything more from you they must be able to produce that... and then you’ll have more of the info you need. 
If they have a website (or find their business card), look hard for any professional organization they say the company or any of the staff belong to, and contact that/those organizations for advice.
SUCH a hassle and so sad, sorry and good luck!!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Thank you, so much for your speedy reply. I have contacted the BBB and yes! my recommendation to my parent is instead of paying the company another $1400-$1500 retain an attorney to seek a full refund.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

Dear Nitaboo,

I'm very sorry to hear what happened with your mom and dad. It is reprehensible to how some contractors take advantage of the elderly. I don't know if you can go through the Better Business Bureau in your area. Other options include the police if there is fraud involved or going to see an attorney. I know some news station have a Consumer reporter, so that might be another avenue to get some resolution for your concerns.

I would call around to other plumbers and contractors to check on the pricing and work to have a better idea if the price is right.

I hope your parents get their money back or at least get the shower they wanted.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.