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Contractor fails to make repairs until call from ABC Action News

Retiree left to live in demolished home
Posted: 6:16 PM, Oct 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-09 22:16:16Z

Joe Miller said the contractor he hired to make repairs has left him worse off, stripping the bedrooms and bathrooms.

“All of a sudden I’m living in a hell hole,” said Miller. “All they did was gut the place and make it uninhabitable.”

Miller said he paid Elements Restoration $50,000 toward the $70,000 job in January.  He said the company cashed his check a day later.

The contractor never gave Miller a contract or returned to make repairs. The company only did demolition work and covered the construction area with a tarp until ABC Action News got involved. Investigator Jackie Callaway checked with Plant City and found Elements Restoration failed to pull a permit or submit plans for approval before she called to get action for Miller.

Miller said the contractor also asked him to remove all his possessions and put them in storage pod in preparation for the construction. But Miller said he had no key to the storage pod the contractor provided for his belongings.

After investigator Jackie Callaway caught up with the owner of Elements Restoration, Trey Payne, Payne sent a crew out to unlock the storage pod, pulled permits, and met with Miller to discuss a start date to resume work.

Payne admitted his company fell behind. When asked what happened, Payne blamed delays on the engineer and promised work would begin within weeks.

Miller said he is “so happy now.”

Callaway plans to follow up with Miller in the coming weeks to ensure his house is turned back into a home.

In an emailed statement, Elements Restoration said:

“Elements Restoration started working with Mr. Miller in January of 2018 following Mr. Miller’s home suffering catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma as a result of a tree coming down on top of the home which ultimately damaged approximately 75% or more of the structure. Elements initially completed emergency services which included selective demolition and tarping to prevent the structure from sustaining further damage, and arranging for a POD storage container to be delivered to the property so Mr. Miller could secure his contents. Selective demolition to sections of the interior of the structure was needed to remove damaged and/or wet building materials and to determine the extent of damage to the framing and structural components of the property.

Following demolition an engineer inspected the property and produced plans to rebuild, which were provided to the building department for issuance of a permit. During subsequent property inspections, the inspecting building officials determined the entire property would need to be brought up to current Florida Building Code as a result of the damages exceeding 50% of the value of the structure. This means the entire property will have to be re-wired, have new electrical service, new ductwork, new HVAC system, new framing components to repair damage from the hurricane as well as substantial termite damage to the framing members.

In addition, the inspecting building officials noted multiple cases of unpermitted work that was evidently previously performed to the home that was improper. It was also noted that at one time the home suffered fire damaged that was previously unknown to Mr. Miller.

Mr. Miller’s project is currently being funded entirely with insurance proceeds. Elements has been actively working with Mr. Miller and his insurance carrier to maximize his ability to get all the necessary work completed while navigating the unfortunate fact that he is significantly underinsured. Mr. Miller is one of the multitude of Florida homeowners who continue to struggle with rebuilding their properties in the wake of Hurricane Irma as property insurers continue to delay the processing and full payment of valid claims. The project has experienced delays, which are unfortunately all too common in the post Hurricane Irma environment.

Admittedly, some of those delays are attributable to Elements as the project and insurance claim has continued to drag out. Elements is resolved to continue to work with and assist Mr. Miller to get his project completed in the most efficient manner possible.”