Troubleshooter: Church left with a mess

July 25, 2008 2:48:23 PM PDT
A Fayetteville pastor is trying to save her historic church. She and the church made a local contractor more than $18,000 for the church to be remodeled; instead they got a shoddy job that left them with a lot of problems.

Pastor Dorothy Nolan is proud of her church, Nolan Faith Chapel. It used to be a 100 year old home that she converted into the church. But it's hard for Pastor Nolan to look at her church now. She tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "We want god's house to look as beautiful as our own house." That's why Dorothy hired Simmons Construction back in 2006 to give it a makeover. Her daughter Theresa tells Troubleshooter, "He came out and gave us an estimate. The church agreed to it, and they got the financing and started work on the church. And then it just went downhill from there.

Replacing the floor was a big part of the job. Dorothy says Kurston Simmons, the son in the Simmons family construction business, did rip the old one out, but there were obvious problems with the new one from the start. The shoddy work continued in the kitchen along with the pastor's study and bathroom. The back porch and roof area also wasn't finished and it's causing a lot of water damage.

When it comes to the front of the church, the porch has no railings, and the siding is falling off. A walk through the front door shows unfinished restrooms. The women's room doesn't even have privacy stalls just two toilets facing the door. To make all this even worse, the church pre-paid for the work. Theresa says, "Over $18,000 to get the church remodeled. There's nothing. We're still making payments because they had to finance. Still, nothing has been done. This is a hundred year old church that my mom remodeled. It means a lot to them."

The Nolan's say they've tried to get Simmons Construction to finish the work. Theresa adds, "His dad came by and said I'll finish it up for him and his dad did one or two things and that was it never saw him again." So we tried to track down Kurston's dad, Harvey Simmons, the owner of Simmons Construction. A trip to his house, led us to his wife, Janice Simmons. She told us he's in the hospital and her son is out of town. Janice also said she knows about the job but not any problems. She tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "He worked with the lady and he did some stuff and I don't think they ever got back with him on anything else." When Troubleshooter Diane Wilson asked about fixing the problems, she said, "He did work with the lady and whenever I can get with him at the hospital I'll see what can be done."

It's a small of glimmer of hope for Pastor Nolan who says she'll just have to keep the faith. She tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "I learn to put it in god's hand and keep on praising him."

We're going to stay very close to this and see if we can help with a little 'non-divine' intervention. If you can offer your help, please get in touch with Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

In the meantime, let Dorothy's story be a warning to anyone hiring a contractor. Remember, always reference them first. Call the references and make sure they're happy with the job. Ask to see if the work you're getting done comes with a warranty or guarantee and get that in writing. Never pay a large amount of money upfront. Instead you should set up a payment schedule. If the contractor wants a large amount of money for materials, you can offer to buy the materials so they're in your possession. Also, if it's a big job, make sure they're licensed. Any job over $30,000, the contractor must be licensed. To find out if a contractor is licensed, click here.


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