When she eventually decided to leave her high-profile career behind, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon envisioned herself settling into retirement at a sustainably built home in a pastoral corner of southern Vermont.
But that dream has not panned out as Sarandon, 76, had hoped, according to a federal lawsuit she filed on Aug. 17 against a Massachusetts construction firm she hired to build her $2 million home in Stamford.
Sarandon is suing DeGrenier Contracting and Property Management in Clarksburg, a small town just a few miles south of Stamford, over “extensive problems” with the home, according to the complaint. Among 47 issues that “require completion or correction” are buckled siding, mold, missing insulation, and warping shingles, the suit alleges.
Sarandon purchased the 45-acre property near the Massachusetts border in 2018 through her limited liability company, The Right to Bear Farms, which brought the suit against Chad DeGrenier, his wife, Carin DeGrenier, and their company. The firm could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.
A longtime figure in Hollywood with starring roles in films such as “Thelma & Louise” and the newly released superhero movie “Blue Beetle,” Sarandon is also known for her political and social activism.
When she bought the land in Stamford, which was “entirely undeveloped except for a small cabin,” her “clear vision” for the home entailed a single-family residence that “would be sustainable,” according to the lawsuit.
The home would “ideally be entirely off-the-grid, where she and her family could grow their own food, utilize solar panels for electricity, utilize water from the property’s well, and rely solely on geothermal energy for heating and cooling,” the suit reads. Once she retired, Sarandon planned on moving there permanently and becoming involved in the local community, where she already had friends, according to the lawsuit.
It was during a visit with family around Thanksgiving last year that Sarandon and others “observed a number of issues with construction completion and quality,” the suit alleges. She brought the issue to the attention of Chad DeGrenier but he did not “correct them sufficiently or properly” and instead “largely downplayed the issues and falsely stated that they were normal,” the complaint alleges.
During another visit in January, she and her friends observed more issues, which the lawsuit claims were also not properly addressed. In response, Sarandon retained engineers to “conduct an engineering investigative report,” according to the lawsuit.
“Many of these construction defects are due to Mr. DeGrenier’s consistent failure to select and manage qualified, independent contractors, and his practice of selecting friends and family members to construct or install specific portions of the home, as well as due to his failure to properly manage those contractors that he did select,” the suit alleges.
The lawsuit claims that DeGrenier misrepresented his qualifications for building the home, failed to provide documentation and a punch list, ignored concerns about construction defects, and that there were “inconsistencies in Mr. and Mrs. DeGrenier’s invoicing, accounting, and record-keeping practices.”
The complaint also alleges that Chad DeGrenier was paid nearly $140,000 to serve as the property’s caretaker after the house was built but “performed essentially no work” pursuant to that deal. Instead, he used roughly $91,000 of the funds received to “purchase a snowblower and register it in his name,” the suit alleges.
DeGrenier rescinded that agreement in April after he was repeatedly questioned about his work, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial to assess damages on claims of breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment against the company.