Wallingford woman's home project turns to nightmare after contra - WFSB 3 Connecticut


Wallingford woman's home project turns to nightmare after contractor causes oil spill

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A contractor severed an oil line in a Wallingford woman's home but its insurance company couldn't repair the damage. (WFSB) A contractor severed an oil line in a Wallingford woman's home but its insurance company couldn't repair the damage. (WFSB)

A woman in Wallingford bought a house with the hopes of it being her "ever after" home only to have its renovation become a nightmare.

Michele Stein said a project involving laying some flooring led to a contractor's oil spill in the home.

"I'm a senior citizen," Stein said. "I sold a house after 40 years. This was going to be my ever after, you know?  And while I was sitting on that deck thinking they were laying the floor so I'll be in here tonight and that's when that guy came and said 'miss, I have to show you something.'"

Stein said she set up the project through Lowe's and believes the home improvement giant wouldn't help until the I-Team became involved.

The installers were putting in a new wood floor in Stein's Wallingford cape.

Stein said she felt like she was close to enjoying the new home until the unthinkable happened.

"They were here five minutes and they came and called me and they had severed an oil line that was in the door frame," Stein said.

The house is on a concrete slab, so the oil tank is in the garage. A pipe runs right to the furnace.

She bought the floor and arranged the project through her nearby Lowe's store. She said everyone from the salesman to the contractor it sent knew the deal.

"Everyone knew that this house had no basement and the oil line was in the flooring," Stein said. "Everyone that came in, I had that discussion with them. I showed them where the pipe went to the utility."

Yet, she said they still cut the pipe five minutes into the job.

Panicked, Stein said she managed to find the valve and stop the leak. Still, more than 20 gallons of heating oil had spilled.

"Aug. 11 they cut into a pipe and leaked 20 gallons of oil and we're standing here in February and I can smell it," she said. "It's much better now because we had air purifiers 3 or 4 of them that ran 24/7 for months. You could not pull up on the street in front of my house and not smell it. Your throat would hurt, your eyes would tear up when you came in, so it's much better to tell you the truth, but you can still smell it obviously."

That sounds bad; however, it wasn't the big issue.

Stein said she made a claim with the installer's insurance company. It came out and agreed to repair the oil damage. However, it found asbestos compound in her walls.

"This company that did the accident doesn't have asbestos coverage in his insurance," she said.

The reason was because she paid Lowe's and the company sent the crew.

Stein called Lowe's and it told her the installation contract terms were clear that she had to take it up with the installer. However, the installer couldn't and wouldn't help.

Stein said she couldn't afford asbestos remediation so the whole project was at a standstill.

"I've lived with relatives, friends and I can get no resolve," she said. "Because they do not have the coverage for it."

So the house sat. Despite day after day of phone calls, emails and pleas for help, nothing was done.

"I don't know what to do,"  Stein said. "I don't know where to go."

The I-Team reached out to Lowe's at its corporate headquarters in North Carolina. The same day the I-Team called, Stein heard from a Lowe's insurance adjuster.

In less than a week, the adjuster visited the property and promised to make things right.

Lowe's sent a statement to the I-Team.

"We are working with Ms. Stein to resolve her concerns," the statement read. "Lowe’s requires all partnered independent contractors to be appropriately licensed for the type of work they perform. All installation services are guaranteed by a minimum one-year labor warranty."

Since the I-Team reached out to Lowe's, there's been a flurry of activity. For the first time in months, Stein said she is hopeful that she'll move into her new home soon.

The work still needs to get done.

Stay with Channel 3 and the I-Team for updates.

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