Shelby Co. homeowner wants money back from contractor he says left him high and dry
SHELBY CO., Ala. (WBRC) - A Shelby County homeowner says he’s out tens of thousands of dollars and fears his dream home may be out of reach thanks to a contractor he claims left him high and dry.
Clint Reese stands on a pair of vacant lots that bring up a lot of emotions.
“Definitely frustration, some disappointment,” Reese relates. While you may see a bare patch of dirt, he sees what was supposed to be.
“My wife was looking forward to a new home--she’s a hair stylist who built this custom floor plan to be able to work from home, spend more time with family, so it’s certainly a disappointment seeing the lots here. I live down the road so I drive by them everyday and am constantly reminded of that disappointment and frustration.”
This nightmare for Reese and his wife started back in the spring, when they say they signed a contract with contractor Wayne Scotch to build their dream home just a few doors down from where they live now.
“There certainly was some research that had been done,” Reese remembers. “I felt pretty confident when I selected him as a builder that I’d made a good choice.”
But Reese began having second thoughts when he says the amount they were supposed to put down for the project kept climbing--from 5% of the cost all the way up to 15%.
“That put up a few red flags initially. But since I was told those requirements were coming from the banker and not him, decided to move forward.”
Reese says the builder used about $40,000 of Reese’s down-payment to buy these two lots and combine them into one deed with the city. Even as that process took longer than expected and a promise of a September move-in date slipped away, Reese says his builder kept making promises.
“It was a verbal commitment of “I guarantee you’ll be celebrating Christmas in your new house.”
But as spring turned into late summer, and Reese learned from the city his building permits were delayed, he got more and more worried until he “received an email reponse that builder was going out of business and filing for bankruptcy and was provided his lawyer’s information,” Reese recalls. “Outside of that have not received any communication from him, no response to any additional attempts to resolve the issue or get the lots deeded over, money returned, or anything.”
Now Reese says he’s out $70,000 at least, with no deed to his dream home property and the prospect of having to fight for this land in bankruptcy court---so he filed a police report with the City of Pelham and received this advice:
“Continue to do as much research as you possibly can. I thought I had done enough by speaking to several individuals, but it’s always good to go online and expand that search. You never know who may have had some negative experiences with that builder previously that you aren’t personally aware of.”
“If you want this process to go as smoothly as it can, it all starts on that front end, and it all starts with doing that due diligence and due diligence is one of the best friends a consumer has,” advises Alex Derencz of the Greater Birmingham Better Business Bureau.
The BBB recommends:
- Checking their website for complaints
- Asking for references and contacting them
- Getting at least three quotes
- Making sure your contractor is licensed
- Make sure you get it in writing
“I would recommend you get everything you possibly can in writing,” Reese says. “So much of the communication is done verbally, so it’s hard to hold individuals accountable with the verbal communication.”
Pelham Police say prosecutors will present this case to the grand jury soon to determine if Scotch will be indicted. We asked the contractor and licensing board if they’re investigating Scotch but they tell us they can’t confirm any ongoing investigation until it’s complete.
We tried, but were unable to reach Scotch for reaction.
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