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Home renovation 'nightmare': Family says contractor cost them hundreds of thousands

Posted at 6:29 PM, May 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-01 22:56:42-04

"It was just a nightmare, that I want to forget," said Vaishnavi Chandrababu about a project to remodel and expand her Bloomfield Hills home.

She and her husband, Nithin, had a dream of adding a new kitchen, garage and basement. So in July of 2016 they hired Total Home Solutions and in time paid out $190,000 of a more than $200,000 project.

But soon the problems began.

"We would only see work done when they wanted payment," she said.

Meanwhile, the family said they were racking up costs, living temporarily in an apartment, while the project was underway, paying double utilities on an apartment and a home.

Soon after they began questioning the workmanship. In frustration they brought in a new company, but said they had to re-do some of the botched work. The price tag for that?....Another $170,000.

The Chandrababus are only one of over a dozen customers who have reached out to 7 Actions News with similar complaints.

Last year, we introduced you to a mother who said she had been left out thousands, after hiring the same company to help retrofit a home to accommodate her newly disabled son.

After 7 Actions News got involved, the work began again but the Hamtramck homeowner said the job was never fully completed and wasn't done well.   

Several subcontractors also reached out to 7 Action News with complaints of non-payment for their services.

Lank Smith, a disabled vet was one of them. He moved to the Metro Detroit area from Washington D.C. less than a year ago, in the hopes of finding work.

He said he was relieved when his team was offered three jobs by Total Home Solutions.

In all, he said it was $4,200 dollars of work ,but his team never got paid.

Total Home Solutions has an F rating on the BBB. As it turns out, the company no longer exists. It was dissolved just two months ago.  

But clicking on the website from the Total Home Solutions’ BBB page takes users to an entirely different company called Rebuilding Michigan, boasting the same kind of work, same pictures, same business address, and at least one of the same owners, Tom Bugbee.

By phone, Bugbee blamed the alleged mishandling of the company on his former partner, Joe Sladovich

Sladovich said Bugbee “was the majority owner” and “made it... clear that he was the one to make all of the decisions regarding how the company was run…””

Sladovich said he left in opposition in August of 2017. He released this full statement to 7 Action News:

Official Statement of Joe Sladovich by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

As for the new company, Rebuilding Michigan, Bugbee said it was completely different.  

"With my new company and new business partner, I don't have the same problem," said Bugbee.

And he defended not having paid Smith, arguing the jobs exhibited poor workmanship.

"I had to go buy new material, that cost $1,000, and go find a new contractor to tear down what they did and put it back up," he said.

Bugbee sent the following statement to 7 Action News, on behalf of his company:

Rebuilding Michigan stands firm that our current company is not the same company as Total Home Solutions. Total Home Solutions had different ownership, builder’s license and leadership. There are a couple of people from employment of Total Home Solutions that now work for Rebuilding Michigan. Rebuilding Michigan is a brand-new company with a different builder’s license, different ownership, leadership, ethics, and accountability. We welcome all parties to our corporate office to view ALL current and past jobs performed and completed by Rebuilding Michigan, so you may see first hand that our processes and procedures have resulted in only satisfied clients. 

Smith, the Chandrababus and others have escalated this to the Attorney General’s office, which told 7 Action News they have received the complaints and were working to resolve them.

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