Action 9

4 families say contractor left projects unfinished, raked in thousands of dollars

LAKE NORMAN, N.C. — Local families dreaming of larger homes or expansive outdoor escapes have instead received an unwelcome surprise -- costing tens of thousands of dollars -- from a Concord general contractor.

When they walk in the door of their lake house, Lisa and Joe Turley fantasized of it being bigger.

For Dale Carnegie, it’s all about his outdoor space. He wants to upgrade his deck and storage area.

Both homeowners had heard good things about Oak Meadow Enterprises/Oak Meadow Investments, so they hired the company.

The Turleys signed a contract, which stated work would start in March and be done six months later in September. At the time this article was published, the work was not even close to being finished, despite the family having paid out $28,000.

“I feel sick. I am so sick because we trusted them. I am so upset. Every time I come here, I am upset because I can’t be in my house,” Lisa Turley told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “It was one excuse after another and, eventually, in September, I said, ‘I am done’ and ‘I am tired.’ I said, ‘We’re terminating our relationship. I want my money back.’”

“They just string you along, string you along and then, eventually, just shut down, go AWOL,” Joe Turley said.

The couple said they still can’t live in their home and are currently renting an apartment.

“It just makes me sad,” Lisa Turley said. “It just makes me sad that we trusted them.”

‘I want them to get exposed’

Carnegie said his project was supposed to be done by the end of June. It’s still just a frame.

“The dates kept getting pushed back and pushed back,” he said.

Carnegie has already paid $38,000 and told Action 9 that he tried to pressure the contractor into finishing the work.

“Pressuring them, when are you guys coming back?” he said. “You said XYZ. Nothing’s happening.”

When a response didn’t come, Carnegie said he filed a report with the police.

“I want them to get exposed to prevent this from happening to someone else,” Carnegie said. “I don’t think what I’ve lost monetarily can be regained, but if I can, I’d like to see that happen.”

Two other families also reported Oak Meadow to Action 9. One said they’ve paid $38,000. The other said they’ve paid more than $41,000. Both contracts said their projects were supposed to start in April and wrap up by the end of May.

Neither are near completion.

Years ago, Action 9 investigated similar complaints against a builder called CarBON Custom Homes. The owners eventually filed bankruptcy.

State records show one of CarBON Custom Homes owners was John Henry Carlson.

According to Cabarrus County property records, John Henry Carlson and Jennifer Carlson -- customers said that’s his wife -- live at an address in Concord, which is also listed as the location for Oak Meadow.

State records for Oak Meadow list Jennifer Carlson as the company president and John Henry Carlson as the vice president.

In their search for answers, the Turleys and other customers said the Carlsons told them Oak Meadow has gone out of business. Last year, Oak Meadow received $37,000 in PPP money. It wasn’t clear how that money was spent.

The state general contracting board said it’s investigating complaints against Jennifer Carlson, since she’s the president of Oak Meadow.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke emailed, called and texted the company multiple times in the past three weeks, but received no response in time for this report.

Advice no matter what contractor you hire:

  • When you check out a company, don’t just research its name. Research the owner’s name. You might get a better picture of his/her track record.
  • The state general contracting board has something called the Homeowners Recovery Fund. Action 9 has reported on this before, but even the people who run it say its under-used. The fund could cover all of your losses. There are a lot of details and steps.

NC HOMEOWNERS RECOVERY FUND:

  • The project has to involve your home, not a commercial building.
  • It can be your primary residence or a second home, as long as you don’t rent that home out.
  • The project has to be attached to your home, so not a pool or detached garage, for example.
  • You have to exhaust all your other legal remedies first. That means you have to sue the contractor and win a judgment, and the contractor still doesn’t pay.
  • Then you can apply for the money. The board says about 50% of customers who apply win.
  • If the contractor files bankruptcy, you can’t recover money from the fund. You become just another creditor in line in the bankruptcy process.
  • Where does the fund get its money? $10 of every permit pulled in the state goes into the fund. The board said that adds up to about $750,000 to $1 million each year.
  • The maximum you can get is 10% of the total. But the board has to maintain $250,000 in the pot at all times.
  • The board has hearings twice each year. It says about 90% of homeowners who make it to the hearing phase win.

(WATCH BELOW: Attorney general sues contractor after repeated customer complaints)