CHICAGO – A Chicago woman who lost her home in a flood last July and has yet to return says she is out of money and out of patience.
Amanda Nadhir shared her cautionary tale with WGN, saying that she put her trust in a restoration company her Condo Association recommended. “Into every life, a little rain must fall,” is the saying, but for Nadhir, since July of 2020, it’s been more like buckets.
A fire destroyed her South Loop condo. A neighbor two floors above left discarded rags too close to some combustible wood stain on a hot day, sparking the blaze. What followed was a mini-explosion that activated the sprinklers. The sprinkler helped extinguish the blaze, but water drenched Nadhir’s home and belongings for hours.
Tri-State Restore (TSR) was recommended. The company promised Nadhir would be back inside her home in two months. Eight months and a tidal wave of headaches and heartaches later, Nadhir says she is still staying with a friend.
“The only work that was done was removing my contents and demolition in my home and putting up shoddy drywall which has been done over,” Nadhir told WGN.
Nadhir says TSR also took possession of many of her belongings. According to Nadhir, TSR promised to give a detailed excel spreadsheet of what was taken. WGN spoke with a restoration expert who says the industry standard is for the company to document all personal belongings they remove from the property.
But for months, Nadhir says she was denied access to her clothes, shoes and electronics. While TSR did eventually send Nadhir an inventory list, it only included lesser value items like paper clips, kitchen pots and pans and a notation of her undergarments.
“I ended up getting eight pages of a list which included no items of value,” Nadhir said.
Her sentimental heirloom items or big-ticket items like furniture received no mention. As for her appliances, she says she was told they were being donated to charity without her consent.
“They said, ‘oh, you can’t do that. Once you sign the contract with us, we take ownership of the appliances,’” Nadhir revealed.
Shortly thereafter, Nadhir fired TSR. Within a few days, someone broke into her place. Nadhir revealed someone pried open the door and removed all of the construction equipment and other restoration materials.
Nadhir filed a police report.
WGN went to TSR’s Chicago office looking for answers.
One of the owners explained that work was delayed because crew members had become stricken with COVID-19. Additionally, the person who inventoried the items ended up stealing them and is unaccounted for to this day.
One day before WGN visited Nadhir, the person who was putting her things together to return to her also contracted COVID-19.
The company is not without fault, however. A check of court records shows TSR has operated under different names in recent years. There is also a history of court judgments involving other frustrated clients.
Nadhir also filed a complaint with the Chicago Police Department against TSR for deceptive practices. Police found her claim to be “unfounded,” and they have since closed the case.
Now, Melrose Park Police are investigating TSR’s claim. The news comes after the company conveyed to police that Nadhir’s “property was stolen while being stored” in an area warehouse.
As for the condo break-in allegations, no cameras in and around Nadhir’s place were operable, so authorities say there’s no way to know who is responsible.
Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau says TSR does not have its seal of approval and unfortunately, when people are rushed to hire contractors, they sometimes regret it.
“Research is so important,” he said. “You feel you don’t have the time. But I assure you, you will spend 10 times the amount of time afterward trying to unravel any problems that may have occurred. So put the time in now. You will be in much better shape.”
Only after WGN got involved did a small number of Nadhir’s belongings get returned.
She says at this point, she’s out at least $45,000 for replacement clothes, shoes, hiring another contractor and eventually having to replace furniture when she moves back in one day. She filed a lawsuit against TSR last week.
“I’ve never felt more violated or harassed in my life,” Nadhir says.
But TSR claims that Nadhir actually owes them money, tools and materials. Nadhir disputes those charges and claims. She’s hired a new contractor but is still at odds with her insurance company on her claim.