‘You feel kind of silly’: Family says pool builder dug hole, did little else

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — A Lincoln County family says they paid a pool builder nearly $20,000 but he never finished the job.

Jill Pigeon says she hired Jeff Phillips with Elite Pools and Service to build a pool.

“We paid him a total of 17,000 (dollars),” she said.

According to the contract, the project was supposed to take “4-6 weeks weather permitting.” But Pigeon says about eight months passed and all Phillips did was dig a hole that was in the wrong spot, too close to her house.

She says she couldn’t get in touch with him after that.

“You feel kind of silly,” she said. “And angry.”

Pigeon was so angry that she sued the company. Despite winning the lawsuit, she doesn’t think she’ll ever see the money because Phillips doesn’t have enough assets to pay.

“Very emotional just because that’s a lot of money to kind of throw away,” she said.

Pigeon says she hired another company to fix Phillips’s work and finish the pool. It ended up costing her $93,000 more than she planned.

“I don’t want other families to go through what we’ve gone through,” she said.

Action 9 tried to get in touch with Phillips multiple times in several ways but did not hear back in time for this report.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke offers this advice if you are considering buying a pool:

1. Do your homework: research the company, read reviews and see if you can talk to customers.

2. Try not to pay more upfront than you have to. The contractor may need money to get started and buy materials but try not to give 100% of the contract price at the start. The more custom the job, the more you should expect to pay upfront because the contractor won’t be able to use the same materials for other projects.

3. Make sure you get a written contract. The contract should answer at least these seven questions:

- When will the work start?

- When will the work be done?

- What happens if the work isn’t complete by the finish date?

- What happens if the contractor discovers a problem digging in your yard?

- How will a contractor get to the site (since they will likely need heavy equipment)?

- Will the contractor pay for or replace damaged shrubs or grass?

- What is the warranty on the materials? On the work? Don’t forget the platform around the pool, special features such as a diving board or waterfall, and any fencing.

(VIDEO: Local pool builder faces criminal charges)