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‘Windy City Rehab’ sued again for fraud, this time over $1.3M home dubbed ‘House of Horrors’ on HGTV show

The lawsuit alleging shoddy work on a home in Bucktown says the buyers were “just another young family to woo and take advantage of” by the show’s stars.

The home at 1700 W. Wabansia.
Sun-Times staff photo

A second pair of homebuyers is suing the stars of the hit show “Windy City Rehab,” alleging fraud and shoddy work and demanding a refund of their $1.33 million purchase price.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court by buyers Shane Jones and Samantha Mostaccio, names co-stars Alison V. Gramenos (who goes by the name Alison Victoria) and Donovan Eckhardt along with their companies and contractors.

The suit also asks for a permanent injunction to force Discovery Inc.’s HGTV to take Victoria and Eckhardt off the air, saying it is “deceptive” to portray them as “superstar experts” who create “compelling and stunning transformations.”

An attorney for Victoria said in an emailed statement that the lawsuit was without merit and that Victoria’s contractor was trying to complete repairs when Jones kicked him off the property.

The lawsuit focuses mainly on a garage behind the property at 1700 W. Wabansia Ave. in Bucktown that Jones and Mostaccio wanted specially renovated so that Mostaccio could do individual pilates training and film videos to stream for her fitness business.

The couple claims the garage work was never properly completed, the lawsuit alleges, and the work that was done was without a building permit, leading the city to shut down the site. The garage was left exposed to the elements and now has rotting wood, damaged drywall and damaged electrical wiring, among other issues, the lawsuit says.

In addition, the couple found various other problems on the property, including electrical outlets in the kitchen not up to code, water infiltrating the exterior walls of the home and garage, poorly pitched landscaping, cracked concrete load-bearing columns on the corner of the house and a “sewage” odor and mold in the basement, the suit says, citing close to $102,000 in needed repairs.

The lawsuit claims Victoria and Eckhardt, who paid $780,000 for the property and sunk another $520,000 into renovations, were desperate to unload the home.

“Defendants were already taking a loss for the property and had every incentive to move it quickly and squeeze every last dime out of it. Unfortunately, plaintiffs were ... just another young family to woo and take advantage of,” the lawsuit alleges.

Victoria’s Chicago attorney, Daniel Lynch, said the garage contractor “was in the process of finishing his work when Mr. Jones called it off and ordered the contractor out of his home. Mr. Jones then decided to make unwarranted demands for money” including a longer list of repairs.

He added: “They had an inspection before they purchased and were fully satisfied at the time. Their claims against Discovery Inc./HGTV have no legal merit and appear to have been added simply to sensationalize the pleading, not because they have any real hope of prevailing.”

Jones claims he asked the contractor to leave after he caught him trying paint over rust damage in the garage to hide it from the next city inspection.

Eckhardt did not respond to an emailed request for comment. A spokeswoman from Discovery said the network does not comment on pending litigation.

Mostaccio said in an interview Wednesday that she first met Victoria at a Lincoln Park fitness studio and trusted that the TV pro would do a great job. But when problems cropped up soon after closing, Mostaccio says Victoria became less responsive.

Mostaccio choked up in the interview as she spoke about trying to take care of her 1-year-old daughter and work on her fitness career, only to be frustrated by numerous delays and then the stop-work order. The couple said they learned the city had temporarily suspended Eckhardt’s contractor license from reading news reports.

“To think that they just take advantage of families is really just upsetting to us,” Mostaccio said.

This is a picture of cracks in an exterior column. The property at 1700 W. Wabansia Ave. is plagued by problems with cracked columns, water infiltration and a damaged garage, among other issues, a lawsuit says.
The property at 1700 W. Wabansia Ave. is plagued by problems with cracked columns, water infiltration and a damaged garage, among other issues, a lawsuit says.
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The difficulties they faced in renovating the home were displayed on the show in an episode titled “House of Horrors” because the home was “full of disasters.” A worker at one point screams, “There is a big leak in the garage.” When Victoria sees the water pouring in through the deck, she exclaims, “Oh my god.”

This is the second lawsuit filed by purchasers of a home featured on season one of the popular HGTV show. The couple that bought a home at 2308 W. Giddings St., featured in the episode “Massive Giddings Street Rebuild,” sued Victoria and Eckhardt in December, alleging problems with leaks and shoddy work.

Both lawsuits are being handled by attorney Nicole Daniel of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP of Chicago.

The second season is expected to air in July, according to Victoria, who talked about her money troubles and coronavirus fears on a podcast earlier this month. She said she’s been treated unfairly, saying: “It’s very upsetting when people read the news and they think that’s the truth. And that to me is not my truth.”

Cracks are shown in an exterior column of a property at 1700 W. Wabansia Ave. The buyers are suing the stars of “Windy City Rehab” for alleged shoddy work.
Cracks are shown in an exterior column of a property at 1700 W. Wabansia Ave. The buyers are suing the stars of “Windy City Rehab” for alleged shoddy work.
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