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La Quinta woman deals with big box remodel nightmares

A La Quinta homeowner said unexpected charges cost her hundreds of dollars when she used a big box store for remodeling at her home.

Laura Steenstra lives in San Diego full time and wanted to update her vacation home in the desert. But with no friends to ask for references, she turned to a national brand she trusted in Home Depot.

“I just felt more comfortable going with Home Depot, a national company that is in every city across the nation. I thought it would be a safer bet,” said Steenstra.

Steenstra says her three-day flooring project turned into a six-day nightmare.

“The installers would not step foot in my house until I pulled out my credit card and paid Home Depot, so I paid,” said Steenstra.

Steenstra says she got charged extra to move her heavy furniture, even though it’s a line item on her invoice from paying for the project in full.

“I was really upset, because I had already paid this in full,” said Steenstra.

Once the project got underway, there was another charge.

“They began ripping up the carpet, and they warned me if they found anything usual, I am subject to extra charges. They let me know Home Depot was going to come at me for what they call a viscous membrane that needs to go on foundation. The installers also told me they never laid tile without that membrane,” said Steenstra.

She paid for a basic installation, but Home Depot says that’s not included.

“I’ve gone through flooring in my San Diego home three times, and every foundation has cracks. All of my installations included the cost of this viscous membrane. It’s standard practice,” said Steenstra. “They said they were giving me a deal by only charging me $1,000 to get this done. I was in a bind. I had to get the work done, and I had to pull out my credit card again, and pay $1,000.”

When we contacted Home Depot, spokesman Stephen Holmes sent us this statement, “We always want our pricing to be transparent and never want customers to be surprised, and the store absorbed much of the additional cost required for this job. Unfortunately, there can be unforeseen work required that cannot be identified until the old flooring is removed. Still, if that was not clear to Ms. Steenstra, we sincerely apologize.”

“That’s why I made all of these arrangements in advance, so I wouldn’t have any last minute charges,” said Steenstra.

So what can you do so you aren’t surprised? Licensed contractor Stephen Little says always do your homework.

“Get three bids. Compare them apples to apples. Don’t trust someone on the name alone. Check their references. Talk to your friends and neighbors to see who have had good experiences with different contractors,” said Little.

There are resources for consumers out there, the Better Business Bureau and California Contractor’s License Board.

You can find them online or give them a call 1-800-321-CSLB to check out a contractor before you start a project, or if you encounter problems.

KESQ News Team

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