Worst Chicago Contractors of 2009
Alpine Glass & Window Co. | Wilmette
Herbert and Renee Schneider hired Alpine Glass & Window of Wilmette to install a new entryway window.
First, Alpine delivered a window that didn’t fit. In a second visit, the company dropped the replacement and it shattered. A third visit never happened, and the Schneiders never saw the company or their money again.
“They are genuine scumbags,” Herbert says. “They’re still free and clear today, and I’m out the money.”
The Schneiders are among six alleged victims with $9,782 in losses listed in a lawsuit filed June 29 against Alpine by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Complaints against the company date back to 2001, and Madigan claims president Carol Bernahl violated a previous agreement to comply with the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.
Bernahl’s attorney, Robert Ramirez, says his client is very ill and the company is closed. “That’s the primary reason she got in this trouble,” he says. “Some of the allegations in the complaint are not true.”
The court case is pending in Circuit Court of Cook County-Chancery Division.
Kitchen + Bathroom Arts Inc. | Chicago
Several Angie’s List members allege they are owed more than $100,000 in total by Kitchen + Bathroom Arts for work not finished or not finished according to contract.
The company landed in the Penalty Box for failing to respond to member Marcia Forcey’s complaint that the company did no work after she paid an $85,962 deposit — half the projected cost of remodeling her apartment. She also says company owner Deyan Vuksanovic has refused to refund her deposit.
After talking with Angie’s List Magazine about this story, Vuksanovic responded to Forcey’s complaint. He says that to obtain the proper trade license to pull building permits to remodel Forcey’s apartment, he needed to write a new contract listing a different company name, Design Home Deluxe.
He says Forcey refused to sign the new contract. If she will sign it, Vuksanovic says, he will remodel her apartment.
Facing civil suits filed by customers, Vuksanovic was granted bankruptcy in August. He listed $200,000 in liabilities, mostly business debts. Forcey is not listed as a creditor in his bankruptcy papers because he filed for debt relief before contracting with her.
Vuksanovic has continued to do business as Design Home Deluxe. City records indicate Vuksanovic was not licensed while doing business as Kitchen + Bathroom Arts. Design Home Deluxe has a contractor’s license in Chicago, but not a home repair license.
Amie Hyman says Vuksanovic tore up her 83-year-old mother’s kitchen and left it that way all winter. “She had her microwave and her toaster oven in her office,” Hyman says. “She didn’t have a sink so she had to wash dishes in her bathroom sink. This went on from November until April, when we got rid of him.”
In his defense, Vuksanovic says, “One does not stay in business 26 years if they are a bad business or if they do things that are not right or fraudulent or unethical.”
He’s operated under at least four company names in those 26 years, and he admits that his practice of using money from one job to pay for another is unreliable.
“You can’t rely on a chain reaction of jobs one after another,” Vuksanovic says. “I’m going to work extremely hard to make sure the jobs I receive are supporting themselves.”
A1 Construction of Chicagoland | Schiller Park
Named one of the Worst Contractors in the country last year by Angie’s List, A1 Construction of Chicagoland is back this year as one of Chicago’s Worst.
The company went out of business in November 2008 but faced a 2009 state civil lawsuit seeking more than $500,000 in penalties and restitution, and a permanent ban from the home repair trade.
Court documents say the company took customers’ down payments but never did any work. The suit was settled with company secretary Vincent J. LaRocca paying a $10,000 fine and president Joseph J. Schmitz paying an $11,000 fine.
No restitution or ban was imposed. Both men must advise the attorney general’s office before working as contractors. Neither LaRocca nor Schmitz could be reached for comment.
The company and both men have separate bankruptcies pending. Numerous civil suits against A1 and its owners also are pending, including one by Angie’s List member Frank Dalbello. In a previously published Penalty Box case involving A1, he says the company owed him $72,000 for an unfinished remodeling job.
— reporting by Matthew Brady