CHARLOTTE — Matthew Piccolo signed a contract with Oak Meadow in early 2021 to build a sunroom for $58,000. The project was supposed to take five weeks to complete.
Piccolo says the company did some work, including demolishing the deck where the sunroom was going and framing the room, but then it stopped.
“It was bad news,” he said.
Piccolo says he hired another company to fix the job and finish it, but it ended up costing him more than $100,000.
He sued Oak Meadow and won but he says the company didn’t pay.
“So I had a judgment. A useless one, but it was a moral victory,” he said. “I wasn’t going to let them get away with it without doing something.”
The “something” was that he filed a claim with the North Carolina Homeowners Recovery Fund and went to Raleigh for the hearing.
“I was hopeful of getting a few bucks back. That was the best I hoped for,” he said.
Instead, he got much more. “They promised me my full claim of $50,000. I was ecstatic. I was so happy,” he said.
Piccolo and Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke had not met before, but he says he mentioned Stoogenke’s reporting about Oak Meadow during the hearing. “Where you interviewed some, at least a couple of people, really, who were really in a bad way from these people,” he told Stoogenke.
Stoogenke started investigating Oak Meadow in September 2021. The state ended up revoking Oak Meadow’s license. Action 9 found out the owner, Jennifer Carlson, had been tied to another company, CarBON Custom Homes, which multiple homeowners had complained to Action 9 about.
The same day Piccolo won, the state board that handles the Recovery Fund says it awarded seven families a total of $361,000. The board says each one got the maximum they could get that day -- it varies depending on the day -- or the full amount they were asking.
Action 9 emailed multiple addresses and texted multiple numbers for Oak Meadow, but did not hear back in time for this report.
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.
- If all else fails, you can try the Homeowners Recovery Fund. Even the people who run it say it’s under-used. The fund could cover all your losses. There are a lot of details and steps (see below).
NORTH CAROLINA HOMEOWNERS RECOVERY FUND:
• The project must 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 must 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 says that adds up to about $750,000 - $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.
VIDEO: More families complain about contractor not finishing work despite being paid thousands
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