Gastonia family shares experience of working with an unlicensed contractor to warn others of possible risks

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - A family in Gastonia had big plans for this summer that included installing a new pool for their backyard but, those plans have been put on pause.
The family says the contractor they hired took their $32,000 for the job and on top of that, they've been left with an enormous hole in their backyard because the pool was never finished.

"So its been disappointing at the very least," said Gastonia homeowner Chris Story.

Storey had plans on a fun filled summer for him and his three girls - so at first he was overcome with excitement.

Construction started in January but now, four months later,  it's frustration - not fun in the sun - for his family.

It seems Storey's family won't have their pool after all. Wires, pipes and huge mess of dirt sit where there was supposed to be a finished swimming pool.

"This is the same way its looked since February," Storey said.

Storey hired a contractor from Pool and Spa Service by Jody in November and paid $30,000 to get the ball rolling, with an additional $2,000 for an added side project.

According to Storey, shortly after that contractor started ground work for the pool, the project kept getting delayed.

"Cause his excuse is, well its been raining...well, my neighbor built a pool, its been raining and its done. It's been four weeks and its done."

Jody Harris, the contractor, agreed to speak with WBTV's Bria Bell under the condition that his legal counsel, William Moore, be present. He says he knows the timeline for the pool project was on the longer side, but stands firm by his claim that weather was a prime reason for the hold up.

"A lot of people don't understand how construction works because they don't work outside," Harris said.

But that's just one part of Storey's dilemma. He is wheel-chair bound and said he had plans on having physical therapy sessions in the water, but because the area behind his home has turned into a construction site, he can hardly get around his backyard.

Storey decided to cut business ties with Harris at the end of April. He says he didn't believe it should have taken this long for his family to be able to take a dip into their pool.

"You're out of money, you didn't get your dream pool. And every time it does rain, its a mess. There's a lot money left on the table that I'm not going to be able to get so it's definitely hurting me too," Harris proclaimed.

Harris told WBTV he is not a licensed and bonded contractor - something reporter Bria Bell was able to confirm with the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. The most Harris is able to work for without that license is $30,000 for one project, but in his contract with Storey the final cost was nearly $46,000.

Harris even had to file a permit with the city of Gastonia to be able to break ground for the pool, but city records show he put that he was installing the pool for under $30,000.

"Well it's been a roller coaster ride," said Story.

The Better Business Bureau recommends hiring contractors that are licensed and bonded so in a case like this - you'll have a piece of mind knowing that the business is more established.

"That's key," Story confirmed.

A $32,000 lesson Storey had to learn the hard way.

"I think that if I can save people $32,000 or $50,000 down the road. I've got my money back," he said.

Storey says he's working with a lawyer to help settle the dispute in court and that he plans on reporting Harris to the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.

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