Unlicensed contractor with shady history now charged with ghosting on $145,000 barn project

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WTVD) -- He strikes again. Nic Baliva, an unlicensed contractor at the center of several Troubleshooter investigations, is facing new charges.

The latest charges relate to a job in Person County for Kim and Kam Barnard.

"I don't want him to keep doing this to people, because he's got a long history," Kim said. A long history the Barnards said they had no idea about when they hired Baliva.

"He acted like he knew exactly what he was doing," Kam added.

The Barnards signed a contract with Baliva for more than $145,000 to build an eleven stall horse barn, with living quarters on their 26-acre property in Person County.

"I paid him initially $2,100 to site clear and grade, and he's done none of that," Kim said. The work he did do includes a fence that is partially finished around the property, but the Barnards say there are problems with the fence.

"Every one of these posts is going to have to be stabilized with concrete or fill dirt or something--they all move," Kim said. The Barnards say a two-man crew started this fence but then left it.

"This fence has sat out in the elements for almost two months now and un-painted," Kim said.

In total, the Barnards say they paid Baliva more than $20,000 before he "stopped showing up; he ghosted us."

The Barnards started researching Baliva and found our investigations over the years that left food truck operators out thousands. ABC11 first told you about Baliva in 2015 when he first operated as a food truck builder and took thousands of dollars for jobs he never completed.

Then in the spring of 2021, we showed you how Baliva started a new construction called Crafted Design-Build-Sell and took on a job he's not licensed to do. He never finished the work at the Chapel Hill home of Laura Grisham.

After Troubleshooter Diane Wilson got involved, Baliva promised to make it right by refunding the homeowner more than $10,000, but that hasn't happened. Grisham said Baliva has only paid her $1,500. She is taking Baliva to court to try and recoup the money.

When the Barnards saw these ABC11 stories on Baliva, they couldn't believe it.

When they finally did hear back from Baliva, he said he had COVID.

"Even if you have COVID, you can still tell your crew, what needs to be done and have that done," Kam said. The Barnards fired Baliva and contacted Troubleshooter Diane Wilson along with the police.

For their case, Baliva is now facing charges related to the Barnards job of a felony obtaining property under false pretenses, and a misdemeanor paid for work not done.

"We'd just like to have our money back. This is a very valuable lesson learned," Kim said.

The Barnards did dispute some of the charges they made through Venmo to Baliva, and that helped them get $7,100 returned to them.

Besides the Barnards, Jessica Deal said she is also out money after hiring Baliva.

"He started our fence and here we are several months, with thousands in and no fence," Deal explained. Deal lives in Clarksville, Virginia. She hired Baliva to install nearly a 1,700 foot fence on their property.

In June, she paid Baliva more than $9,000 to get started. While the posts went up, Deal said it has been tough to get Baliva or his crew on the job.

"He told me several times it would be a quick turnaround time, probably two week completion." That didn't happen.

Troubleshooter Diane Wilson got in touch with Baliva about her case, and he sent a text to Deal saying he was shutting down his business and would refund her for the work he didn't do or finish the job. She said she just wants her money back.

For the Barnards and Grisham, the contracts are over $30,000. To do jobs valued at more than $30,000, you must be a licensed contractor in North Carolina. Baliva is not.

The NC Licensing Board of General Contractors said it does have a complaint filed against Baliva and it's investigating.

As for Baliva, when it comes to the Barnards' job he told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson he finished the fence, except for painting and did other work on site. He also said he would look at the amount he's owed and issue a refund if there is a difference.

This is a good reminder you should always research who you're hiring before you sign any contract or pay them money. Don't just google the business name, but also the owner's name. Research is key before handing over any money. Also, if the contract is more than $30,000 check to see the contractor is licensed. You can do that check here.

Baliva is due in court on charges related to the Barnards' case later this month. For Grisham's case, he's due in court in October.
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