FOX 29 Getting Results: Basement Remodeling Nightmare

FOX 29 Getting Results: Basement Remodeling Nightmare

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PHILADELPHIA -

It's a common problem with older homes: a basement ceiling no more than 6 feet high, makes the space nearly unusable.

You can't raise the ceiling, so you lower the floor!

That's what Andrea Copes and her husband had in mind when they hired a contractor last month.

"It makes me sick. It makes me scared..." says Andrea Copes.

Andrea Copes wanted a basement playroom for her kids. This was not what she had in mind.

"Well, I think I have a mess. Haha...I think I have nothing that I was told that I was supposed to get..." she says.

Andrea and her husband hired Papaneri & Sons Concrete to lower the basement floor. They paid half the $8,000 dollar tab up front, with the final half to be paid upon completion.

But Andrea says Papaneri left her with a leaking wall so structurally unsound that it had to be braced by another crew that came in afterwards.

"This is a mess. I said it to him. It's a complete mess. I thought it was a nightmare," she continues.

Andrea's attorney says the problems with this job began right from the start:

"I've seen nothing to indicate that they had permits when they began this job," says the attorney.

An engineering firm hired by Andrea to assess the basement cited, "improper work" and said the floor needs to be "removed and replaced," and claims the basement foundation wall is "unstable."

"The house is just structurally unstable," says Copes. "It could be over $20,000, yes… It's awful. I don't have it."

I went to Papaneri looking for answers. No one was there, but I did get through to the owner Mario by phone.

He admits he did not get a permit before starting the work, but blames pre-existing structural problems in the old home for the basement trouble.

Andrea just wants a useable and safe basement.

"I stay up at night …. having nightmares that my house is going to fall," she remarks.

Mario told me he is willing to come back and fix whatever's wrong with the basement, under the watchful eye of an inspector.

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