More families say contractor didn’t finish work despite being paid thousands

CHARLOTTE — Action 9 first reported on general contractor Oak Meadow in November after four families said the company left projects unfinished despite being paid thousands.

Now, more families throughout the Charlotte area said they’ve paid the company for major home renovations, but it only did a small fraction of the work.

Paul Johnson said he hired Oak Meadow to redo his master bathroom and build a room over it.

“They tore out the bathroom … did most of the demolition and some of the framing,” he said.

Johnson showed Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke the contract that said work was supposed to start no later than July 18 and take 4-5 weeks. According to Johnson, he’s paid Oak Meadow more than $14,000 so far.

“It was just one excuse after another,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he’s been trying to finish the project on his own, doing some of the work himself and hiring other contractors to do the rest, all added expenses.

“I’m sort of the general contractor for my own project, so I’ve gotten a plumber, I’ve gotten a drywall guy, et cetera … Between having a family and a job, it’s been a lot of work. It’s very frustrating,” Johnson said. “It’s been hard on the family. It’s been stressful.”

According to Johnson, he and his wife can’t use the master bath and have most of their toiletries in bags instead of drawers or cabinets.

At the time of this report, nine families have complained to Action 9 with similar stories about Oak Meadow.

State records list Jennifer Carlson as the president of Oak Meadow. According to multiple customers, Carlson told them Oak Meadow has gone out of business.

The state general contracting board said it’s investigating complaints against Carlson, but her license was still active as of Thursday.

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

State records show one of the owners of CarBON was John Henry Carlson. According to Cabarrus County property records, John Henry Carlson and Jennifer Carlson live at an address in Concord, which is the same address listed for Oak Meadow. Customers said Jennifer and John are married.

While state records list Jennifer as Oak Meadow’s president, it also lists John as vice president of the company.

Since October, Action 9 has tried contacting the Carlsons multiple times, but they did not respond in time for this report.

Stoogenke offers this advice when hiring a contractor:

  • When considering a company, don’t just research its name. Research the owner’s name as well. You might get a better picture of their track record.
  • The state general contracting board has a Homeowners Recovery Fund, which could cover all of your losses. See below for more information.

NORTH CAROLINA 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 a pool or detached garage would not be covered.

• You have to exhaust all other legal remedies first, which 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 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 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: 4 families say contractor left projects unfinished, raked in thousands of dollars)