Contractor 'dream team' starts rescue for ripped off veteran

Earnest Sanders, Jr. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Earnest Sanders, Jr. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

FRAYSER, TN (WMC) - They're doing it for free.

They're doing it to honor a man's military service.

They're doing it because they're angry.

They're angry because a couple of unlicensed, unscrupulous contractors dishonored paralyzed Army veteran Earnest Sanders, Jr.

"I watch Channel 5 every morning. I saw the story, and I was a little upset," Otto Electric Company Field Supervisor Richard Carter said.

He and a dozen other licensed contractors saw our February 8 investigation. The 83-year-old Sanders Jr., paralyzed in a 2014 car accident that killed his wife Ora Lee, hired two unlicensed contractors to build a driveway and garage to accommodate his disability and to store his late wife's belongings. Since they had no credentials, they tricked him into pulling the building permits, leaving him with the full responsibility of the work done on his property with no recourse, according to Shelby County code enforcement officials.

After paying them in excess of $40,000, the bogus contractors abandoned Sanders, leaving him with a leaking garage which destroyed his late wife's stuff and broke his daughter Rev. Dinah Tatman's heart.

Click here to see pictures of the poorly built garage.

"They took advantage of him," Tatman said. "To hear there's nothing he can do...again, all of the onus and responsibility placed on him. He has enough he has to deal with."

Todd Hart of Hart Family Construction Company had enough when he saw the story. He started making calls, even to his competitors.

"Not one person I've called said, 'No,'" Hart said. "I want to re-do it and do it right."

Thirteen contractors--a roofer, a dumpster company, drywall installer, electrician (for the complete list, see below)--are donating their time and materials to tear apart the shoddy work of the unlicensed contractors and rebuild a driveway and garage worthy of Sanders, his military service and the $40K-plus swindled from him.

"You know, I see this kind of thing out here every day," Carter said. "It really tears me apart to see people taken advantage of like this. We're going to disconnect the power for him in the beginning and come out, re-wire it for him, furnish him some new fixtures suitable for a garage."

"We saw the story you guys aired on the news, and so when [Hart] reached out to us and asked if we'd do the demolition for him, we were more than happy to accept it," said Steven Davis, co-partner of Principle Solutions.

Sanders gathered his dream team around his wheelchair: "You don't know just how much I appreciate you trying to help me. I'm to the place where I can't help myself right now, and to have you guys to come out and do what you're doing--give me a hand and help me--I can't put into words how much you mean to me, and I want to thank you all."


Remember, do not pull the building permit yourself for work on your property unless you are a construction professional building his or her own home. For Andy's checklist in shopping a contractor, please click here.

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