Monday, July 16, 2018
Real Estate

For four years, she’s been locked in a fight with Home Depot over a leaking roof

TAMPA — Evelyn Canzenza has nothing but time to think about her roof. She wakes up in her bedroom to a water stain where the wall on the right meets the ceiling. When she does laundry, she passes her former homeschooling room that has two more water stains and a swelled door frame that prevents the door from closing properly.

For just over four years, the retired Tampa native has gone back and forth with The Home Depot — and several branches of local government — about the roof they installed. She says the work was faulty and caused leaks and damage to her home — and two independent contractors back her up that the roof has problems.

Home Depot stands by its work, and both the retailer and the city say it’s up to code.

"I’m so sick of all this," Canzenza, 81, said. "I don’t know what to do."

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The trouble started in November 2013 when she hired Home Depot to repair her roof. She opted for the national chain because of how much her late husband, who typically took care of repairs around the house, trusted them. Home Depot installed the roof by the next month.

But almost immediately, Canzenza said, problems sprung up. The roof began to leak in multiple places, and the roof was emitting a smell. She wrote to Home Depot about the issues.

Between January and August 2014, Home Depot conducted three inspections, and a fourth in March 2017.

"We never want a customer to be dissatisfied," Home Depot spokesman Matt Harrigan said. "However we’ve performed four inspections of Ms. Canzenza’s roof since this project was completed and we haven’t found any installation issues or new signs of leaking."

The city, records show, conducted three inspections in late 2013 when the roof was constructed. It also sent its head of construction inspections, Bob Bass, out in October 2017 to inspect the roof.

Each time, Thomas Snelling they found that the roof was up to code, said Thomas Snelling, director of Tampa’s planning and development department.

The inspections they conduct are not "destructive," meaning they do not remove portions of the house, such as shingles. Instead, they check to see if parts are cut and attached properly and if there is any visible damage. They also test for moisture.

Inspectors did not inspect the roof from the attic on the most recent visit, Snelling said, because the hatch to access it was too small for the inspectors to squeeze through. Home Depot said at least one of its inspectors inspected the attic at some point.

They did note some water damage, suggesting that she plaster over it and wait through a few rains so the city could establish that there was a leak.

"That’s not my job," Canzenza remembers telling them.

To get a second opinion on the state of the roof, Canzenza hired two other roofing companies in January and April of 2017.

They also inspected the roof, but both went where the city was previously unable to — into Canzenza’s attic.

Charlie’s Roofing & Waterproofing Inc. conducted the first inspection. According to a report the inspector gave her, there were "visible signs" of leaks, "numerous broken deck boards" on the roof, "oversized and excessive nails" as well as "broken decking." Charlie’s estimated that the age expectancy of the roof was under three years.

They recommended reinstalling new shingles, replacing about 15 broken deck boards and repair leaks.

A second inspector, PDG Roofing, conducted another inspection a few months later. They, too, noted broken and loose wooden decking in a few areas, as well as shingle nails protruding through several shingles.

"In multiple areas and a couple of trusses are split or rotted, not letting (the) decking (be) nailed down," the report said.

Home Depot said none of its inspection reports indicated any damage, except for some shingles that were pulled up "by outside contractors."

The city’s Snelling said he is sympathetic toward her situation and understands her frustration.

"We’d like to get rid of bad contractors too," he said. "They make my life miserable."

But the city said she got in touch with them too late. Because it has been about four years after the construction took place, he said, the city doesn’t have much recourse at this point.

Without a baseline of what the house was like before the contractor came, he said, it is difficult to attribute which damage happened because of the roof.

Her best bet if she wants any movement on it, he said, would be to sue Home Depot.

Canzenza isn’t one to stew quietly. She was heavily involved in her neighborhood watch in the early 2000s, regularly advocating for issues in her neighborhood. In this case, she said, she’s advocating for herself and her family.

"I wanted to leave my children something of their grandfather," she said.

Home Depot said they will reach out to her to schedule another inspection. Canzenza is looking at hiring another contractor to repair the roof.

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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