They planned to make it their dream home, but it turned into a nightmare.
A now-disgraced contractor’s home remodel gone wrong left a Rocky River family short on cash and devoid of hope that their home could be made whole again. That was until the family met a local union electrician and his team who have offered their help – free of charge.
In the tree lawn of their home on Jameston Drive are parts of the Smith family’s living room floor. Bound together like bushels are the wide-plank boards, many of which a warped, torn or in pieces. There are also jagged chunks of subflooring stacked together in thick plastic bags.
If trash collection day is any exercise to let go, Patrick Smith has a lot to let go of.
“It’s a metaphor. I think it’s the out with the old in with the new,” Smith said.
It has been a long time coming. For the better part of three years, their home has been in a consistent state of construction — and de-construction. Even today, many of the interior walls in their kitchen and living space are exposed. Piecemealed two-by-fours are exposed. Lines of conduit snake through them, often hanging down like Christmas lights.
There’s no longer a shower in the master bath. The tile has been removed. The plumbing doesn’t work. This room, too, has exposed studs.
And to think this is the best that their home has looked in recent memory.
“When I lost my leg, we lost everything,” Smith said as he gestured to his left leg that is amputated from the thigh down. “Then, I saved up for five years, every penny I had to rebuild this home. I lost everything again.”
In order to make their home more accessible, Smith and his wife Lori sought to expand their home. The family eventually hired ProCode Construction, a Lakewood general contracting firm owned by Michael Delmonico.
The Smiths spent more than $200,000 on the remodel. The problems started almost immediately, many of which continue to this day.
The structure of the addition wasn’t properly secured to the main structure of the house, allowing rainwater, ice and snow to seep into the roof, eventually causing mold to grow. There were plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical issues, including fixtures that were falling out of the walls and frequent brown-outs.
When News 5 visited the home in February, there were also large pieces of siding that had fallen off. Many of the doors and windows had not been properly flashed and sealed, allowing water to penetrate. There was also a flood from faulty plumbing, which had not been properly insulated.
All told, the remodel was an unmitigated disaster. Delmonico eventually walked off the job, and the Smiths filed a civil lawsuit against him last year. The case was settled earlier this year. However, the settlement would not be nearly enough to cover the repairs that still need to be made.
“We just deal. We just deal. We refuse to let this beat us,” Smith said as tears welled up in his eyes.
After News 5 profiled the Smiths’ plight earlier this year, many individuals and companies offered their assistance, including Caprica Homes. The company offered to replace the roof, which had major issues of its own, at a discounted rate. That way, the Smiths reasoned, at least no more moisture would be getting inside the home.
It was a good start, but plenty of problems remained.
“I was astonished by it. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve been doing this 35 years and I’ve seen nothing this bad,” said Tim Davis, a veteran licensed electrician with IBEW Local 38.
Davis also works at Einheit Electric.
“Deplorable. I don’t think anybody had any idea what they were doing that was here," Davis said.
Davis said, in his professional opinion, the way ProCode Construction and its subcontractors did the wiring in the home left it very prone to fires. Whomever fished the conduit through the studs left the supports structurally deficient and not up to code.
Upon hearing about the Smith’s situation, Davis went to visit their Rocky River home. It didn’t take long to be convinced of what he needed to do. The same could be said for his team of IBEW brothers, as well.
“When I showed them the video, every single guy in my trailer volunteered. They’re stand-up guys,” Davis said as he too became emotional. “First and foremost, [Smith is] a veteran. That means something to us. A lot of the guys that are coming to help are veterans… He just landed in my heart and I had to help.”
Using the help of local electrical supply wholesalers who have donated materials, Davis and his team will completely re-wire Smith’s entire house.
Davis, who said he had contemplated moving back to California last year, said he felt compelled to help the Smith family.
“When I met Pat, I told him that the first day: God kept me here for a reason, you just might be it,” Davis said.
While plans are being drawn up to do a complete re-wire of the house, Davis is also leading the charge to help finish the rest of the project. He’s chasing down leads of potential carpenters, drywall installers and other construction crews to help put Smith’s home back together.
“We need manpower and building materials. We just need guys that want to be a part of something special,” Davis said.
Whether it be through materials or labor, anyone interested in helping out is asked to contact Einheit Electric at 216-661-6000.