Action 9: BBB advises about making deposits on homebuilder work

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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A man gave a contractor $1,400 down. Months later, the builder still hasn't done the work. 

Joe Weaver's backyard is a steep drop into the woods. He has a path, but it gets muddy. So he hired Majestic Builders to build stairs on the hill. Majestic has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. 

Weaver gave a deposit: half the tab, $1,400. 

Weaver: "That was Jan. 1, was when he was supposed to come." 
Action 9: "And he hasn't come yet?"
Weaver: "No."
Action 9: "No steps?"
Weaver: "No steps."

Weaver said Majestic kept promising to come out, and then putting him off.  So Action 9 called Majestic four times over more than four weeks.

Action 9's Jason Stoogenke told the man who answered, "It's one week after another week after another week.  It keeps going on."

Each time, the man on the other end agreed to give Weaver's money back.  But, he also said he already spent it on other projects, and that, until other customers paid him, he wouldn't have that money.

BBB President Tom Bartholomy said that can be illegal in North Carolina. 

"That's what's called being painfully honest. When a contractor admits that he's 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' type of scenario," he said.

Either way, Weaver is in business himself, building boat covers, and expects better customer service.

"We wouldn't have a business if we did anything like that.  If we don't get to people in like two weeks, some people get mad," he said.

The BBB said your deposit should only be between 10 and 25 percent for a typical project, 50 percent or more if the work is so customized to your needs that the builder wouldn't be able to re-use the materials. And, also, save about 10 percent of the full payment for the end, when you know the work is right.