SHEBOYGAN FALLS, Wis. — Home improvement complaints are on the rise. The state's consumer protection agency said there were more than 1,200 complaints this year, more than double the number from the previous year.
The I-Team was contacted by a Sheboygan Falls woman back in May. That woman has since filed a complaint of her own with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and local police are now investigating it.
She considered it her dream house in Sheboygan Falls just a few steps away from perfection.
"I felt like I was being pulled here," Sharon said.
The homeowner, who we'll call 'Sharon', is part of the Safe at Home Program which protected the identities of domestic violence survivors. We've chosen to hide her face.
However, that's not Sharon's only hardship.
"I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990," Sharon said.
That diagnosis has left Sharon wheelchair-bound.
In June 2022, Sharon and her partner bought a home in Sheboygan Falls knowing work needed to be done to make it accessible for her.
"We had to have some of the halls widened, we did need to have the laundry brought up, the bathroom needed to have an overhaul, we had to have the carpeting ripped out because it's not good for myself and wheelchair," Sharon detailed.
Sharon's realtor knew this too.
"The realtor said, 'Oh, and by the way, with all this stuff that's going to need to be changed, my husband's a contractor so he could help you,'" Stephanie Mauk said.
Mauk is Sharon's support broker with the Safe at Home Program.
Sharon said she did a hand-shake agreement with her realtor's husband since she's known the couple for a while.
Checks obtained by the I-Team show Sharon paid the man $45,000 between August 2022 and January 2023. When she finally moved into the house in May 2023, she said she was shocked.
"Ugh. I can't even put it into words," Sharon said.
"He did a lot of demo, he didn't do a lot of rehab," Mauk explained.
The I-Team went to the house in June and we saw exposed wires, hanging pipes, missing ceiling tiles, materials left scattered across the home, piles of insulation, plywood as makeshift flooring, and holes in the floor.
"This is very, very dangerous for my client," Mauk said.
After several attempts to get in touch with the man doing Sharon's home improvement work, he agreed to sit down with us.
"I just did the work she asked me to do. I'm not a contractor, I'm just a friend of theirs doing the work for them," Warren Carriveau, the man who did the work, said.
Carriveau said he needs more money from Sharon to get the job finished.
We asked what the $45,000 Sharon paid Carriveau was used for.
"What do you mean what do I think it went to? It went to materials, drywall, paint, electrical, plumbing, and everything," Carriveau explained.
State law requires folks doing home improvement work to have specific licenses. The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) said Carriveau didn't have the licenses required by the state for the work he was doing. Those licenses include a dwelling contractor's license, master of electrician, and master of plumbing.
The I-Team asked Carriveau's wife, Gina, why she recommended him in the first place.
"It was my understanding that you said 'Oh Warren can do the work' instead of going out and seeking another contractor," TMJ4's Jenna Rae said.
"I said they should talk to Warren, I said they should talk to him," Gina Carriveau responded.
"Okay, so you did recommend," Rae asked.
"Well he's a carpenter," Gina Carriveau said.
According to the state, he doesn't have a license for that either.
The Sheboygan Falls building division also confirmed no permits were pulled for the home renovation.
"I cannot believe that he doesn't have any licenses, and I don't want this to happen to anyone else," Sharon said.
This case is currently under investigation by both the Sheboygan Falls Police Department and DATCP.
SEE PART TWO OF THIS STORY: How to best protect yourself when hiring for home improvement work
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