Contractor rip you off? The pot of money you may not know about

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — One of the complaints Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke hears the most is when a homeowner hires a contractor who ends up not doing the work.

Many homeowners sue and even win, but still never see the money again. But a lot of people don’t know there’s a big pot of money to help homeowners in this exact situation.

Barry Lipscomb says he and his wife hired BlueOak Construction to build them a house in Kannapolis. He said they paid $164,000 to start. They were supposed to move in three and a half years ago, but said the builder didn’t get very far.

“We were disappointed, but, for me, I was like, more angry. And I wanted to call the news right away, I wanted to put them on blast, Action 9, ‘Hey, they’re doing this, " Lipscomb said.

The Lipscombs sued and won, but BlueOak declared bankruptcy. The Lipscombs were out the money.

BlueOak is out of business, but Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke got in touch with one of the owners. He said a lot of issues ran up the price and the delays on the Lipscombs’ project, including erosion, zoning, and the HOA.

“We didn’t know what to do so that’s when I started my Internet search,” Lipscomb said.

Lipscomb and his wife work in education -- and he’s a veteran -- so he was hoping to find some sort of specific recourse for public servants. He didn’t find that, but he did find the N.C. Homeowners Recovery Fund.

“It’s real money,” N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors Executive Director Frank Wiesner said. “There [are] some things you have to do, hurdles to jump to get here, but it does give you, again, that sense of relief and closure at the end of the day.”

Things to know about the 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.
  • The contractor has to be a licensed one or one pretending to be licensed.
  • 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.
  • Where does the fund get its money? $9 of every permit pulled in the state goes into the fund.
  • 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.

Stoogenke went to Raleigh for the Lipscombs’ hearing.

“My wife and I haven’t been able to build our dream home yet. We are still waiting,” Lipscomb told the board.

“Although it’s been tough and hard, we believe, in the end, it’s going to turn out well for them,” their realtor, Tony Black, told Stoogenke.

The day they were there, Wiesner said there was about $760,000 in the fund. Since legally no homeowner can walk away with more than 10% of it, the maximum a homeowner could get was roughly $76,000. That’s what the Board awarded the Lipscombs.

“It is definitely a roller coaster,” Barry Lipscomb said. “The highs and the lows of that. That’s what it’s been. It’s like right now we’re reaching the top of the road and trying to see where we land.”

(WATCH BELOW: ‘My stomach just dropped’: Family claims builder promised them home on land it doesn’t own)