HAVERHILL (CBS) – As if moving isn’t already stressful enough, Laurie Dempsey’s anxiety level went through the roof during the inspection at her Haverhill home.

“They found mold in the attic,” Dempsey told WBZ. “I was in panic mode.”

Dempsey was in the process of selling her house and purchasing a new one.

With all of her funds tied up in the real estate transaction, she didn’t have the money to pay for the remediation work out of pocket. But if the cleanup was not complete by closing, the deal could fall through.

Mold found in attic after Next Step Living insulation job (WBZ-TV)

“The sale of the house hinged on it,” she said.

An inspector determined the cause of the mold was improper insulation installation in the attic. A couple years ago, she had the upgrade installed through the Mass Save program, a huge statewide initiative that gives homeowners subsidized opportunities to make energy improvements.

It turned out the contractor who did the work was Next Step Living, a Boston-based business the I-Team exposed in February 2016 for a long list of customer complaints: Everything from mold to collapsed ceilings to insulation in kitchen cabinets.

The ceiling in this West Roxbury home collapsed after a Next Step Living insulation job. (WBZ-TV)

“It was not an easy thing to resolve,” Dempsey explained.

Not easy, because Next Step Living abruptly went out of business a year ago.

As a result, Dempsey contacted Mass Save to pay for the cleanup costs. With the clock ticking before her closing date, she told WBZ she felt like she was getting the runaround.

Laurie Dempsey (WBZ-TV)

“It was the same speech every time,” Dempsey said. “I can’t even tell you how many numerous phone calls, yelling, swearing, just being a pain trying to get results.”

So Dempsey decided to contact WBZ’s Call 4 Action. Within a few days, a Mass Save inspector checked out the insulation job and an expedited check to pay for the mold remediation arrived in the mail.

“I want to thank you tremendously for what you did,” Demspey said. “I definitely don’t think I would’ve had that check if it hadn’t been for you guys, so I truly appreciate that.”

Even though it folded a year ago, Next Step Living continues to haunt customers.

Two utility companies that partner with Mass Save tell the I-Team they have helped approximately 2,300 of their customers resolve issues related to Next Step Living.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office said 221 consumers have filed complaints, the vast majority since the company closed.

Meantime, a forced bankruptcy case slogs through federal court as subcontractors and other creditors try to recoup assets from the shuttered Boston business.

Ryan Kath can be reached at rkath@cbs.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.


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