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FIGHT OVER ROOF ADDS UP TO A LOT OF MONEY

A St. Pete Beach woman says her battle with Home Depot has cost more than $100,000.

How do you conquer a giant?

If only Joan Binmore knew. Lord knows she's tried.

But when a consumer battles the likes of Home Depot, it can be difficult.

Binmore, 79, has been locked in a dispute with Home Depot's At-Home Services division for four years. The problem is that the home improvement giant has refused to meet her conditions for repairing the roof and ceiling of her St. Pete Beach home, which a company subcontractor damaged.

"I just get so discouraged dealing with Home Depot," Binmore said. "It just goes on and on."

Home Depot says it intends to reach an agreement.

"We're absolutely committed to resolving this thing," said Stephen Holmes, a company spokesman. "There were no delays that were intentional on the Home Depot side."

Binmore's case highlights just how difficult it can be to seek restitution against a contractor in civil court, even when the contractor admits responsibility.

Home Depot agrees that its subcontractor, Allen Belt Roofing of Tallahassee, damaged Binmore's ceiling - a cathedral ceiling with exposed, pickled and tongue-and-groove beams that towers above her living and dining rooms.

While replacing the roof, the contractor hammered away with 2-1/2-inch nails that pierced and splintered the home's prized attribute.

Home Depot initially offered $9,568.69 to fix damaged beams and "install a new layer of tongue & groove ceiling material on top of the existing material." But Binmore said estimates ranged from $42,000 to $71,000 to fix it right.

With legal bills and over time, Binmore's costs are more than $100,000.

Whenever court dates arise, Home Depot changes lawyers and seeks postponements, dragging the case along.

Binmore said she doesn't understand how justice can be so difficult when everyone - including Home Depot - agrees that the home improvement giant and its subcontractor were in the wrong.

"It is so screwed up," she said.

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