• Local families lose money, sued after custom builders don't finish homes

    By: Jason Stoogenke

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Local families spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have custom homes built. 

    Then, they say they ran into one problem after another.

    Some are now afraid their homes may never be finished. And if that isn't bad enough, some are now in legal trouble.

    Action 9's Jason Stoogenke discovered those families are the ones facing liens and even lawsuits.

    Families hired Carbon Custom Homes, which is now permanently closed, to build their home.

    Raymond "Chad" Bonds and John Carlson owned Carbon.

    Their lawyer emailed Channel 9 this statement: “Chad and John did everything they could to make the business succeed, including foregoing paying themselves a salary for several months and attempting to finish some homes with their personal money and resources.

    "The business was unsustainable and had to shut down. The closure resulted in some unfinished projects, which understandably upset those homeowners." 

    Jeremy Brown, a firefighter, and his paramedic wife, Karla, thought the company was going to build them their forever home.

    "This was going to be home that we retired in and, you know, this was it,” Brown said.  "Oh man, we were ecstatic. This was going to be our forever home."

    The Browns said they had problems with the footings, grading and then delays.

    Carbon Custom started construction last June, and their home is far from complete.

    "We had tentative dates for December, and then that got pushed to January.  Then, they never discussed February,” Brown said.

    The Browns aren’t alone in their complaints.

    "I mean, it's just one thing after another,” customer Patrick Bane said. “You wake up every morning and you're just, under your breath, you're just really upset."

    They accuse Carbon Custom of shoddy work.

    "A lot of work that was done, you could go around and look at it and you're like, 'Eeeeeesshhhh.'  a lot of issues,’” customer Matt Kiker said. "Weeks would go by, no workers were out there, no subcontractors, nobody would show up." 

    "There's electrical work that's a problem,” Bane said. “There's grading outside. I have flooding outside my home."

    "We went through our whole life savings to finish our home and we still didn't get everything we wanted in our home,” customer Tania Kiker said.  

    The customers said the builders were full of excuses.

    "The communication was terrible,” customer Cindy Webber said.

    "There was always something wrong, something wrong, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll fix it, we’ll fix it,’” Bane said.

    Then, the legal problems started.

    Most said Carbon Customs didn't pay certain subcontractors, so those subcontractors took out liens on their homes.

    “Mine are up to $37,000,” customer Charles Hale Jr. said.

    “We are $55,000 right now,” Webber said.

    Some subcontractors are also suing them.

    Most told Stoogenke they are paying for their current homes, paying on the construction loans for their new' homes and they don't have enough money to finish those homes.

    “I’ve already paid Carbon for the work,” Hale said.

    Some reported Carbon's owners, Raymond "Chad" Bonds and John Carlson, to the N.C. Attorney General, Better Business Bureau, and/or N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors.  The Board is looking into them.  Their licenses are still active.

    Carbon's lawyer emailed Action 9, "As founding members of Carbon Custom Homes, Chad and John did everything they could to make the business succeed, including forgoing paying themselves a salary for several months and attempting to finish some homes with their personal money and resources."

    She went on to say, "Regrettably, the business was unsustainable and had to shut down.  The closure resulted in some unfinished projects, which understandably upset those homeowners."

    She added, "Those affiliated with Carbon Custom Homes regret the hardship this has caused any of their customers.  They would have liked nothing more than to have been able to complete each project satisfactorily.  Unfortunately, the business' liabilities were insurmountable and continuing to operate was not an option."

    When Stoogenke asked about the subcontractors not being paid, and the liens, the lawyer said, "(We) are carefully analyzing all legal options."

    “It’s horrible to know you can’t finish your house,” customer Chris Palomba said.

    The customers want refunds or repairs, which they know are unlikely, but they also want the laws changed.

    "In my opinion, the current lien laws in North Carolina do not protect homeowners at all,” Hale said.  “They're there to protect subcontractors and contractors."

    In Kannapolis, the Browns say Carbon didn't pay some of the subcontractors on their house either.

    They said one subcontractor has a lien on their property and is now suing them.

    They can't afford to finish the house and don’t have anywhere else to live, so they are staying with his parents.

    "We expected to be in a home by now and, instead, we're essentially homeless,” Karla Brown said.

    Some reported Bonds and Carlson to the attorney general, BBB, and/or the general contractors board.  The board is looking into them, but at last check, their licenses are still active.

    Stoogenke offers these tips if you hire a custom builder:

    - Look into getting builder's risk insurance ahead of time. It may shield you from liens, but make sure.

    - Every time the bank cuts the builder a check, get written proof the subcontractors have been paid.

    - There's always the state's "recovery" fund.

     

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