‘You know it’s crazy’: Home improvement store subcontractor complaints on the rise

ORLANDO, Fla. — Action 9′s Todd Ulrich investigated complaints against a major home improvement chain after customers claimed its contractor wrecked their renovation projects.

“Here we are six months later, our kitchen is still a wreck,” Carmen Antley said.

Antley and her husband claim they have been dealing with a kitchen renovation nightmare. The couple showed Action 9 a cabinet that was installed over a vent, a microwave they say is a fire hazard because it’s too close to the stovetop, and a farmhouse sink that was improperly installed.

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“It’s causing the island to start to crack and cave in,” Antley said as she pointed to the damaged countertop.

Antley said that when she hired Lowe’s Home Improvement, she was counting on the company’s national reputation to prevent contractor disputes.

“I thought we were signing up with Lowe’s because the contract says at the very top: ‘Lowes.’” Antley went on to explain the work was done by two independent subcontractors who were hired by Lowes.

According to Antley, there’s a long list of installation failures; including building permits that were never obtained and nearly $40,000 in damages, from the wood floors to their existing appliances.

“You know I want them to take it seriously. They put somebody in our home that has caused an enormous amount of damage,” Antley said.

The couple said Lowe’s initially sent a district manager to their home to evaluate their claims. Antley described the manager’s reaction. “She could not believe what she saw. She was flabbergasted.”

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Despite some initial offers to finish the job and make repairs, months later the couple was still waiting for a resolution.

“We’ve mentioned all of this to Lowe’s, and it seems to go in one ear and out the other,” Antley said.

After Action 9 heard similar stories from other consumers this past year, Ulrich reviewed Lowe’s complaints sent to Florida’s attorney general.

Since 2019, 223 consumers asked the agency to investigate their unresolved issues with Lowes Home Improvement. That is a major increase compared to Action 9′s first investigation into the company’s contractor complaints in 2018, when just 42 customers contacted state investigators over a three-year period.

“Who do you blame?” Action 9′s Todd Ulrich asked.

“I blame Lowe’s,” Sandra Braga replied.

Braga is another Lowe’s customer who picked the chain to build a new fence in her backyard because she trusted the national company to handle any contractor issues.

“Did that happen?” Ulrich asked.

“No, that did not happen,” Braga replied.

“And a year later you want answers?” Ulrich said.

“Yes,” Braga said.

According to Sandra, Lowe’s sent one of its preferred independent installers to build the fence, but according to city building inspectors, half the fence was built on her neighbor’s property.

“I’ve been calling, sometimes five times a week,” Braga said.

Braga documented every call she made, more than 200 in a year, to Lowe’s and its installer to fix the fence.

She said so far there had not been any solution and the fence still cannot pass a city inspection. “It’s very stressful.”

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Action 9 did a deeper dive into the attorney general’s complaints and found an all-too-familiar theme, customers claiming the contractors Lowe’s hired had badly botched their renovations, but Lowe’s failed to oversee their work and correct the mistakes.

“You know it’s crazy. I’ve never dealt with anything like this in my life,” Antley said.

Ulrich contacted Lowe’s management about Antley and Braga. Two weeks later the company said it worked directly with both families and the homeowners were satisfied with the resolution.

“I just want it fixed,” Braga said.

If you are using a home improvement store for renovations, do your own research into the independent contractors assigned to your job. Early intervention can help you avoid nightmares later.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.