Homeowners, subcontractors take issue with NC lien law

Updated: Nov. 4, 2019 at 5:47 PM EST
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SAILSBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - More than six months into building a new home on his property, Rodney Cress felt like he was getting too many excuses and delays from his contractor. The veteran and former law enforcement official decided to do his own digging and didn’t like what he found about Southland Custom Builders and owner Mark Revels.

“(He) never told us, he didn’t tell his subs, he didn’t tell other customers he was working for that he didn’t have a contractors license any more,” Cress said.

Online records for the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors show that Revel and Southland’s license is invalid after it expired at the beginning of the year. Licensed contractors are required to renew their licenses annually with the board.

Cress said he was already fed up with the speed of the project and fired Revels from the job. He claims to have already paid him more than the original contract price, although he did admit there were some verbal changes they agreed to.

It’s what happened after he hired a new contractor that left Cress fuming.

“We found out that Mark Revels hadn’t been paying his subs,” Cress said.

“I was showing them the checks where I paid the contractor for their work.”

WBTV has heard from numerous homeowners and subcontractors who have been in this position. Homeowners, having already paid the general contractor in full, are surprised to find a subcontractor knocking on their door demanding payment.

Subcontractors in this situation are often unaware that the contractor has been fully paid. Even then, subs feel their best bet for getting the money their owed is to put a lien on the customer’s property.

“The only recourse we have is to put liens on the home and we don’t want to do that because they’re innocent too,” Kimberly Morrison of Morrison Concrete said regarding a different general contractor.

Attorneys will advise that lawsuits against a contractor often aren’t worth the time, money or effort.

“The judge will eventually say ‘yes he owes you the money’ and then it’s back to me to collect it again,” Bain Myatt of AA Hardwood Flooring said.

Cress says he hasn’t had a lien put on his property yet but he’s waiting for it.

“Why should we pay twice? You could be talking about tens of thousands of dollars you’ve already paid,” Cress said.

Revels of Southland disputes Cress’s claim although he admitted to WBTV that he let his license expire as he pursues opening a new business.

Revels says that Cress still owes him thousands of dollars for labor and supplies related to their verbal change agreements.

But Cress says he plans on taking Revels to court to prove otherwise.

He just wants lawmakers to take another look at the lien law so homeowners aren’t left stranded in his situation.

“There’s no checks and balances and it’s the consumers the hard working people everyday that’s being punished for it,” Cress said.

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