How State Laws (Don't) Protect Homeowners With Contractor Issues

Lessons From Triad Woman's Contractor Issues

SNOW CAMP,  NC -- Brandy Teague knew her contractor before hiring him.

She checked to make sure he had a licensed. She even spread out her payments consumer expert would advise anyone in her situation to do so a contractor wouldn’t take her money and run.


in spite of all that, Teague’s contractor still walked out on the $36,000 project and state law can't do much to help her.

“It looks like it's finished from the outside looking in,” Teague said looking back at her house while standing in her yard.

A closer look and you will find there is quite a bit more that is left to be done on her home project.

The contract for the job included a closed in porch (used as a dining room), a garage and a bonus room.

“This is where the concrete pad is supposed to be poured,” Teague pointed to the area in front of her garage currently covered in gravel instead.

“He did this foundation and this foundation leaks water, really bad,” Teague said while walking towards a crawl space under her home.

The outside, the garage, the upstairs and in the dining room, the work she contracted Joseph Carter of J Carter Builders to do isn’t quite done.
Teague says it’s all indicative of a host of problems she's had with the contactor since the project began earlier this year. 

“Our job was $30,000 and above,” the homeowner said. “But he lied and pulled a permit for a lower price.”

The Alamance County Inspections Department and Carter himself confirm that fact.

To add, 2 Wants 2 Know found Carter also ran a gas line, and did heating and air work he wasn’t licensed to do, according to Robert Key of the inspections department. 

He also didn't pull a permit for the closed in porch until an inspector ordered him to. 

“There's so many things that are wrong,” Teague cried.

Documents also show out of 37 inspections on the project, Carter only passed 14 of them.
The contractor claims it was because Teague kept calling in inspectors to check the project before he was done.
“This is the home that my husband grew up in,” Teague said. “It means something more than just a home or just a project. It's something we wanted to do for our kids”

The contractor declined an on-camera interview but told 2 Wants 2 Know by phone,  he walked off the job because Teague wanted more and more added to the project.
He admits he underestimated how much the project would cost and says he had to spend some money out of his own pocket to make up for it.

Teague has paid him for 90% of the cost of the contract and plans to give him the final 10% upon completion. 

However, Carter wants her to pay him more than the agreed contract before he’d come back to finish the work.
Teague admits she did ask Carter to do a few odd things like add a cabinet to the garage but he had a right to refuse.
Now, she says, she just wants to him to come back and finish what they agreed to in the first place. 

“It just seems so unfair that we have to pay to make him come back and finish what he should have done in the first place,” Teague said.

The Alamance County Inspections department has reported J Carter Builders to the state for doing part of the work without a license.
Joseph Carter is a licensed contractor but not for heating and air.
The inspections department says because Carter gave incorrect information on the permit forms and no one confirmed the information before the start of the project, they are now looking at making changes to the permit process.

Homeowners in Teague’s situation don’t have a lot of options. 
The state recommends taking the case to court but it’s a process that can be expensive with no guarantees.

Homeowners can also apply for the Homeowners Recovery Fund.
The fund is money state officials set aside for when a homeowner incurs a loss due to a contractor's bad work or incomplete job.
The money comes from a percentage of all building permits issued in the state.
Homeowners have to go through several steps before they can qualify and be considered.


Even after a homeowner is determined to be qualified, it could take years before any money is awarded. The qualification process also involves taking the contractor to court first and getting a judgment in your favor.


“Seems to be nothing that we can do about it,” Teague said, frustrated. “We can pursue this problem but it’s going to cost us a lot of money.”

 
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