(WSVN) - She said it sounded like an earthquake as a sinkhole opened under her house. And that’s not the worst news, she is now battling the contractor she hired to repair her house. It’s a tough fight and it’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

It sounds interesting to hear about, but not to go through…

Loise Ogwin: “I was in the house getting ready one morning, and I feel like an earthquake. Things were falling off the China cabinet, and I have a glass a mirror on the wall and the glass fell.”

It turns out a sinkhole opened up under Loise Ogwin’s Coral Springs house.

Loise Ogwin: “I was so frightened, I got away from here.”

Fortunately, her insurance is good. After they lifted the house and stabilized underneath, they gave her more than $100,000 to make repairs. She hired a company called Harper and Sons to do the work, in part because its owner, Robert McKenzie, is also a well known Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner.

Loise Ogwin: “He is a politician, and you would think he would take the interest and consider that I’m a person of disability.”

Loise says she gave McKenzie $35,000 to get started, and there was a lot to do from the house sinking and being lifted back up.

Loise Ogwin: “The floor had to come up, the windows were broken, the piping was shifted, the kitchen water was coming up.”

After a few weeks passed, the contractor wanted more money. Loise says she gave him another check for nearly $35,000. A few weeks later, he wanted the final check. Loise said no way.

Loise Ogwin: “The tiles are not laid properly because you can still see the slope.”

Loise filed a complaint with the State containing several accusations.

That the contractor was supposed to level the room before installing the floors. Loise says he clearly didn’t.

We used a level to confirm it, and dropped a ball and watched it roll to the corner.

Loise says the kitchen was not the one she wanted installed. She says the granite was poor quality, and the bathroom shower was supposed to be built so Loise could get in with her walker.

Loise Ogwin: “I asked him to do it over. He told me he don’t do do-overs.”

Loise then got an estimate from a contractor to redo the work and finish things that had not been done. That came to a little more than $71,000. Since Loise still was holding the last $34,000, she told McKenzie she was keeping that money and wanted him to return around $37,000 she had already paid him to cover the estimate from the new contractor. He said no way.

Loise Ogwin: “He told me he was not returning the money. He looked at me with this walker, and he thinks that he can take advantage of me.”

Well Howard, legally, what kind of shape is Loise in?

Howard Finkelstein: “These issues can be complicated, but some things are clear. The things that are not done have to be finished and the floor must be level, meaning the contractor either has to repair it or give up the money to have it done properly. But after that, the contract that I read is not clear. It doesn’t detail what kind of kitchen has to be installed, and it doesn’t mention the requirement for a handicapped bathroom, meaning this is headed to a judge to determine a solution.”

We talked to Loise’s contractor Robert McKenzie. He sent an email that said he was planning to fix the tile problem, that he offered to put in a handicap bathroom and Loise said no.

In another email he told us he would not return any money Loise had already paid him, but instead of requiring the final $34,000 payment, he only wanted her to pay him $15,000 and she could keep the rest to fix the floor and finish the job.

This time it was Loise’s turn to say no way.

McKenzie’s response to us? “Thanks for your intervention … I will see them in court.”

A spokesperson told us under state law, they can’t even confirm if Loise filed a complaint, but because this individual has a local license, generally speaking, these types of cases are referred to the county.

Bottom line, this is headed to court…

Loise Ogwin: “It’s a disaster here.”

Loise was smart in withholding the final payment. That gives her some bargaining power. The flaw? The contract wasn’t specific on the details of the kitchen and bathroom. It’s a he-said-she-said there, so if you hire someone, no matter what they are doing, be specific about the details of the job.

Feeling sunk and need a lift? Want someone to construct a solution? Let us take a crack at it. We can’t build a kitchen, but we can whip up a way out of the mess for you. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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