The family in the city's Englewood neighborhood can't even access their front door. They've been waiting more than a year for a new porch. Another customer then called about an unfinished roof which led the I-Team to a large business that appears to have closed its Chicago-area showroom.
A semi barreled into Beverly Carmichael's Englewood home more than a year ago.
"I heard a big crash and when I came downstairs I discovered a semi-truck had run into my house and totally demolished my front porch," she said.
Photos show the porch in pieces, and 14 months later only the debris is gone. Her front door is unusable.
"I can't use it and it's a safety hazard. We only have one entrance," Carmichael said.
Carmichael and her daughter said they filed a claim with their homeowners insurance after the semi driver's insurance didn't cover them. She used her payout to hire Gallagher Construction in south suburban Frankfort.
They paid $12,000 but did not get a new porch.
Carmichael showed the I-Team her cashed checks for $12,000 and a contract with Gallagher showing the extensive repairs needed. The company did remove the porch and debris, but they didn't complete most of the other items like "construct a porch substructure," "replace porch roof/ceiling," or "install deck railing and porch skirting."
The contract even said the company would "replace damaged bushes." Carmichael was going to owe another $3,200 at completion.
"It's tremendously painful, I'm still stressed out," she said.
The City of Chicago Buildings Department told the I-team that no permit applications were ever filed.
"I want to say to them that you can't treat people that way, you cannot take someone's money that they are working hard to keep...and not do any work and not call them and being rude to them," Carmichael said.
Carmichael lost her insurance coverage because of the missing porch.
"Because it is unsafe, it's an unsound structure," she explained. "God forbid if there were a fire, for me and my daughter we have to find an escape route."
Carmichael said when she hired the contractor the company had an A with the Better Business Bureau. Now Gallagher Construction has "no rating," the BB said, because of 14 other recent complaints.
In Bradley, Larry Martin paid Gallagher Construction a $5,000 deposit for a new roof in January. He filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General after, he said, he was getting the runaround, and no answer on a start date.
"What was supposed to be done is a whole new roof with new sheets because we don't know what is underneath," Martin said. "And as you can see the shingles are pulling up on this side and it could be possible water leaks."
When the I-Team went to Gallagher's showroom on a weekday afternoon the lights were off and there was a For Sale sign in front of the property.
On the phone, CEO Michael Gallagher said he would not refund Carmichael because he said his company spent time trying to get her insurance company to pay out more money for what he called "additional needed repairs," and that he spent money defending himself from what he described as an unfair legal action Carmichael has taken against him.
He said he is now in Las Vegas, focusing on working in his offices there. His family members and a former employee also told the I-Team that Gallagher has moved his headquarters to Las Vegas.
"Five thousand dollars ain't a lot for a lot for a lot of people, but for working people it is," Martin said.
Gallagher never got back to the I-Team about Martin's roof complaint, and Carmichael said she's losing hope.
"Can't get in and out of my house, and it's just a big eyesore for the whole neighborhood of Englewood," she said.
Gallagher's brother, the former president of the company, said the local offices closed after a family fallout, and that he has reached out to the consumer affected to complete the unfinished projects.
Experts advise that when hiring a contractor, pay in thirds and use a credit card so you can dispute charges.
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