TV-6 Investigates: Veteran's Home Improvement
Major home repairs can be a difficult project for any homeowner to tackle. Sometimes, it's best to hire a professional. Consumer advocates advise checking a contractor's license and insurance before signing on the dotted line of a contract.
TV-6 Investigates started looking into a contractor who's now had two city inspectors and a judge say his work did not meet expectations.
Homeowner Dawn Kerr contacted TV-6 Investigates after Davenport's building inspector failed the work done on her new home addition, and she couldn't get a straight answer from the company she hired. Kerr hired Veteran's Home Improvement, owned by Eric Cosgrove.
Cosgrove's contract said he's a licensed general contractor in Illinois. TV-6 Investigates went to get answers.
Homeowner Dawn Kerr said, "We've been living in this tiny bedroom with no closets and stuff, and I like, live out of a laundry basket."
Kerr wanted a bigger bedroom and garage added on to her house. She planned to do most of the work herself, but not all.
"Entirely too much for me to handle all the framing of the addition," said Kerr.
She hired Veteran's Home Improvement, owned by Eric Cosgrove.
"I thought that I was hiring a legit, very good guy," said Kerr.
A friend of the family also hired Cosgrove to build an addition for a new bathroom.
Homeowner Dan Cogdill said, "We were going to expand the master bath; it's a very small bath, we were going to make a big one."
Cogdill said he trusted Cosgrove.
"He was very pleasant, very convincing, and so, we signed a contract with him, he had a decent contract," said Cosgrove.
But soon after both projects started, the homeowners noticed problems.
Cogdill said, "They're already laying block, and I said I have one question for you, where's the dirt because they would have dug a 42 inch by approximately, 30-foot foundation during those two hours, which is obviously impossible."
Kerr said, "I had pulled in the driveway and I could tell this wall was not square."
Cogdill said, "From up there, my daughter-in-law who doesn't build anything came around the corner and said you're not supposed to see through the wall are you?"
Kerr said, "I came inside the garage and I was like whoa, I look at this, and there is not a header for the garage door."
Both called their city inspectors. Both inspectors failed the work that had been done. Davenport's inspector wrote the work was not following the plan. East Moline's inspector cited improper installation to issue this stop work order.
Cogdill said, "The East Moline building inspector, he got a pretty good laugh out of it also."
Kerr said, "Failed it on many accounts, the city inspector said if we were to try and leave this existing structure, it would require engineering."
Neither homeowner understood what happened. They've both filed complaints with the Illinois Attorney General's Office. A spokesperson confirmed the office is looking into the matter and gave TV-6 Investigates copies of the complaints.
Both Kerr and Cogdill point to a line in their contracts where Cosgrove said he's a licensed general contractor in the state of Illinois in good standing. But the state told TV-6 Investigates it doesn't license general contractors. It told TV-6 Investigates to check with the cities. TV-6 Investigates asked Moline, Rock Island, and East Moline. All three said they've never issued any license to Cosgrove or registered him.
Cosgrove's contract also said his business is registered in Moline. But the Illinois Secretary of State's Office doesn't have any incorporation records from Cosgrove either. TV-6 Investigates called him up.
"In your contract agreement, you mention you're a licensed general contractor, I can't find a license anywhere in the State of Illinois," said reporter Mark Stevens.
Cosgrove declined to answer TV-6 Investigates questions because Kerr was suing him. The case wrapped up two weeks ago. TV-6 Investigates sat in the courtroom and heard the judge rule Cosgrove did not complete the work on Kerr's home in a workmanlike manner and ordered him to pay $7,500 to Kerr. After the hearing TV-6 Investigates tried to talk to Cosgrove outside the courthouse.
Stevens said, "You claim in your contract that you're a licensed general contractor, are you a licensed general contractor sir?"
Veteran's Home Improvement Owner Eric Cosgrove said, "You're in my bubble."
Stevens said, "Sir it's public property, are you a licensed general contractor?"
Cosgrove replied, "Get out of my face."
Stevens said, "Right here talking to you, are you a contractor? Do you know how to do construction, sir?"
Cosgrove said, "Get a real job."
Stevens said, "Two building inspectors in different cities failed your work do you," as Cosgrove entered a car and drove off without answering.
Kerr doesn't know what happened.
"I felt like he wasn't trying to run a scam, I felt like he was a guy who was trying to be something he really wasn't licensed to be, and that he had just gotten way in over his head," said Kerr.
Cogdill just feels ripped off.
"If I were an old lady who didn't know any better he would have actually built something on top of this foundation and it probably would have been falling down," said Cogdill.
Both homeowners have hired other contractors to fix and complete the projects they hired Cosgrove to build. The judge gave Cosgrove 90 days to pay Kerr. Cogdill filed a small claims suit against Cosgrove on July 24th.
People hiring a contractor can always double check their licenses. The local city or county building inspector's office is a good place to start.