Contracting dispute moves to highway |

Contracting dispute moves to highway

Susan Wood

A South Lake Tahoe couple has taken its dispute over home repairs with a local contracting firm to the street and the courtroom.

As motorists passing by honked, Tina and Dan Onesko picketed in front of the Handyman Connection’s office on U.S. Highway 50 for three days with signs declaring the company ruined their Paradise Avenue house and is running a scam.

The Oneskos accuse the company, found in the yellow pages, of sending out two contractors who wrecked their 700-square-foot house during a remodeling job and completed unauthorized work like laying a new kitchen floor at the expense of the work they contracted for such as a new shower installation and bathroom floor.

In some instances, the Oneskos said the dust from the dry-walling was so dense, they couldn’t breathe in the house. Consequently, they said it forced them to get a motel room. Then, the dry-wall in the bathroom melted when the plumbing pipes burst, they added.

“By this time, we’d gone through sheer hell with these people,” Tina Onesko said, working her picketing shift before going to work Monday.

They pledge to stand out there for as long as it takes to get back the $6,000 they paid to the contracting firm.

The Oneskos filed in El Dorado County Small Claims Court for damages amounting to $5,000 – the approximate difference between what the Oneskos paid Handyman Connection and other companies they claim rectified the work the Sacramento-based company performed. They claim the $5,700 home-repair job has cost them $12,000.

A hearing has been set for May 24.

“We’d be perfectly willing to settle out of court,” Tina said.

“We’re willing to settle out of court too, if they would pay us the $1,000 they owe us,” said Superintendent Bob Marvin of Handyman Connection.

The company paints a different picture of the scenario.

Company management claims the Oneskos made under-the-table deals with A.L. Richardson for work unstipulated on the contract.

The employee of the company refused to complete the 10-day job because of difficulties with the Oneskos and has been since terminated for their remodeling job, company management indicated.

“Richardson made bad deals with them,” Marvin said, citing the Oneskos’ own words in a statement of discontent to the company.

It reads, “that A.L. (Richardson) has already collected $1,800 as a result of ‘off the contract’ work that he promised us…”

“I can understand them being ticked off by it, but we didn’t have anything to do with it,” Marvin said.

A second contractor was brought in by the company who allegedly completed the work.

“To my knowledge, they were happy with him,” Marvin said, adding he’s unaware of any pipes bursting or telephone lines pulled out as alleged.

But the Oneskos felt he was incompetent and drank liquor on the job. He admitted to drinking but said the Oneskos bought the liquor.

They refused a request for payment by him and another by Marvin. The superintendent said he insisted on inspecting the work on several occasions through February and March to try and remedy the problem.

“They wouldn’t let me come back in (the house),” Marvin said. “I still want to go in and fix the problems.”

But since February, the Oneskos called on other contractors to work on the house because they said by that time there was a breakdown in trust.

Company management said that voids their contract.

“Like any contractor, we can make mistakes and anything can go wrong. But the essence of our business is inspecting and repairing,” Handyman Connection co-owner Rick McGreevy said from his Sacramento office. “We’ve tried to resolve this in a professional way.”

He cites a letter notifying the Oneskos the company terminated their contract because it’s unable to gain access to the job site.

McGreevy takes issue with the way the Oneskos are handling their grievances.

“We don’t like people standing out on the street with signs saying bad things about us. We feel actually wronged by this conduct,” McGreevy said.

“To my knowledge, this is the first complaint we’ve had to this magnitude,” Marvin said.

The contracting firm, with offices in South Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, Auburn Truckee in California and Reno in Nevada, has shown no other El Dorado County small claims filings against it in the last five years.

The California Contractor’s Licensing Board indicated the company has been cited $350 on a pending matter this January out of the Sacramento office out of thousands of jobs.

A program technician with the board advised that one of the wisest plans of action a consumer can take is refraining from straying from the original contract’s intent.

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