Troubleshooter: Contractor problem

November 15, 2009 9:00:00 PM PST
Shelia Evans dreamed of adding a big bonus room above her garage. So in August, she hired Jeff Smith of Dimensional Design to do the job."Did the reference checks and he sent me pictures of work he did previously, so I thought I did my homework," she explained.

Evans even got the drawings of what her house would look like once the addition was complete. Demolition began and work was progressing, so Evans paid about 18 thousand dollars of the total 32 thousand dollar bill. But quickly after paying, problems started.

"They removed the roof and the garage was completely open and exposed to the weather," she said.

But work didn't progress further. As water damage began, Evans says she tried and get in touch with Smith.

"$18,248.00 is what he got out of us and as you can see since that time, nothing else has occurred. No activity, I sent him numerous emails, and phone calls don't do any good because he just doesn't return our calls," she said.

Out a lot of money with not much to show for it, Evans contacted ABC 11 Eyewitness News I-Team Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

"If he had come out and did this work as he promised to do, it would open all kinds of doors and possibilities for him, but he chose to steal from someone and that's wrong," she offered.

We called and emailed Smith, but got no response. So, we went to the Rolesville address listed for him.

A woman who claimed she owns the house and lives there with Smith's mother said she had no idea where he was.

"I haven't seen him for over a month," she told us.

"Is he still in the area?" we asked.

"I honestly don't know where he is, police have asked me night after night," she said.

Rolesville police were looking for Smith because there was an outstanding warrant for a traffic offense.

Our visit seemed to have an effect. The next day, Evans got some unexpected workers at her home.

i gave the woman my business card and asked her to let smith know i was looking for him.

"I was completely shocked, still shocked," said Evans. "I got more work down in the past four days, than I've been able to get in the last 90 days."

There was no sign of Jeff Smith, but these workers said Smith hired them to do the job.

"We now have a top on garage that we didn't have before, and it's boxed in, and so we're getting some work done," said Evans.

But despite the work, Evans said wasn't paying Smith another dime since there's was still no sign of him or the majority of her 18 thousand dollars worth of materials.

"I still don't have my garage door. I'm told my windows will be here, but still quite a bit of work," she said.

And the workers completing the job said they were worried Smith may not pay them as promised. They say he agreed to pay them once the job is done plus they were paying for the materials out of their own pocket.

But despite their fears, they continued to work.

Meanwhile, Evans says she has a warning for others:

"He's a con-artist, and I want to make sure no one else suffer the way we had to suffer as a result of his lack of integrity," she said.

Evans says that the crews that originally did the work have showed up at her door wondering if she's heard from Smith, because they say Smith never paid them after they did the work.

Experts say consumers should remember that when having work done on a home that cost more than $30,000 the contractor must be licensed.

Despite Smith telling Evans he was, she never checked it out. Once we did the research, we learned he's not licensed.

And how can you find out if your contractor's licensed? Get their general contractor's license number and check it out on-line. Click here for the link to the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractor's.

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