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Contractor balks at '30-second' repair to siding

Q: Five years ago, I signed a contract with House Crafters, a home improvement contractor, to side my house and put on a new roof for $9,600. This year, I found the strip on one side of the door had buckled and is pulling away from the house. The siding has a 10-year labor warranty.

I contacted the company and an appointment was set up between noon and 1 p.m. June 6 for House Crafters to look at the problem. I had told them I had an appointment at 2 p.m., and when no one came in that one-hour window, I had to leave at 1:15 p.m. for my appointment. When I got home, a House Crafters card was on my door. I don't know when he was here.

I called many times since then, and left messages, and did not get any returned phone calls from the company.

During the first week of July, I called the company again. House Crafters was supposed to come to my home on Friday, July 6. I stayed home all day and no one came. I called House Crafters later that day, and the man told me they'd come on Monday, July 9. No reason was given for them not showing up the previous week.

I hope you can help me. I just want it fixed.

-- Lois Manning, Tonawanda.

A: What seemed, at first, like a simple fix, turned out to be anything but.

At the outset, our July 9 phone conversation with Cheektowaga-based House Crafters LLC -- which installs siding, roofing and does a variety of home improvements -- went down an unpleasant path.

We politely explained your letter and concern to a man at House Crafters, who identified himself as the company owner but refused to provide his name to News Power. "Now I won't go back and fix it at all," he said. "That's pretty rude of her (to write the letter)."

In fairness to both parties, Manning's letter to us in late June crossed with the phone contact between her and the company on July 5. However, prior to that, several weeks had gone by with no resolution since the June 6 appointment, with no returned phone calls. And Manning said no one came to her home on July 6, as promised, either.

The House Crafters owner told us he had written the problem down on the back of his business card that he'd left at your home on June 6, and said that he also explained that to you on the phone at a subsequent date.

"I told her it was the cement" causing the problem, he said. "Her concrete heaved up by the door because of water underneath it when it freezes."

House Crafters insisted it was not at fault, and that your problem was not caused by anything the company did. Instead, the company said the problem was a result of the freeze-and-thaw cycle with water getting trapped underneath the concrete. "She has a water leak, not a siding problem," he said.

Even so, Manning questioned why the siding problem occurred on only one side of her kitchen door.

News Power provided the company with your address, and after arguing back and forth, House Crafters said it would do the necessary repair. But the owner said he would charge you if the matter was published in this column. "We were willing to do the work, but I should charge her $80," he said, noting that it is a "30-second repair."

"She was never going to get charged until she called The News," he said. "This is costing me time, arguing with News Power and having to go to the customer."

After numerous attempts by News Power to clarify whether House Crafters would actually charge Manning for the repair, the owner finally said that he would not.

House Crafters told us they were scheduled to be at Manning's home last Monday, July 9, but that the work truck had come back early and it wasn't yet done. Manning told us they also were to have been at her home on July 6, as well. The owner said he would send a crew to Manning's home "first thing Tuesday."

We asked that he contact us when the work was done and provided our number. Manning called us late Tuesday to say that House Crafters still had not come.

But early Wednesday morning, House Crafters showed up. Manning called us to let us know. "Nothing was said about a charge," she said. "I'm so happy that I got it fixed. I thanked them and they said, 'No problem.' "

We're glad the repair was finally made. We left two messages since then for Mark Casillo, president of House Crafters LLC, but didn't hear back from the company.

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