Gaston pool builder leaves wake of complaints after projects exceed original price

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 10:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Gaston County pool builder is facing complaints from customers for damaged and incomplete projects that last months longer than originally anticipated.

WBTV first reported on Backyard Pool and Spa and its owner Trey Turner in 2015 for similar allegations.

Turner and his company are not licensed contractors in North Carolina. Unlicensed builders are limited to projects that cost less than $30,000 but WBTV found four instances in the past two years in which the price of Turner’s pools exceeded that amount.

Gastonia resident John Wilson contacted WBTV after a retaining wall Turner built for his pool failed and started leaking mud, dirt and debris into his pool.

Pictures Wilson provided WBTV show that Turner did not install a barrier behind the retaining wall to prevent washout.

“He didn’t put any of that against it, so the mud is directly against the wall,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he first heard about Backyard Pool and Spa on Facebook before he reached out to Turner for a quote.

“He is a very good salesman. He talks a big game and he quotes a better price than most,” Wilson said.

A copy of the contract provided by Wilson shows that Turner quoted a price of $29,990.

But before the pool had even broke ground Wilson said they added retaining walls, pool water delivery and concrete decking that took the total price to nearly $43,000.

Under North Carolina law, a general contractor must be licensed if the contract is valued at $30,000 or higher. A quick search on the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors webpage shows that Turner and Backyard Pool and Spa do not hold a license.

In 2015, WBTV reported on Turner for the exact same issue. A homeowner in Lincoln County contacted WBTV about an incomplete pool project started by Turner that was only completed after our investigation. The price of that contract was also more than $30,000.

Wilson said he did not find WBTV’s 2015 story until after he started having issues with Turner showing up consistently to finish the project.

To fix the issues left by Turner, Wilson contacted another company to come to his house and quote him a price for repairs. The second company told Wilson it would cost $39,420 to drain his pool, remove concrete and do other work, according to a copy of the quote provided to WBTV.

In a text message to WBTV, Turner wrote “We don’t ‘charge’ anything extra than our pool contract or agreements.” He also claimed “We did nothing other than help Mr. Wilson acquire his additional fencing, landscaping and drainage materials at OUR wholesale cost.”

Turner also pointed out that Wilson has not paid for the added concrete decking, the same decking Wilson says needs to be replaced.

An attorney representing Turner also called WBTV and referenced a court ruling from 1971 that he believes allows builders to surpass the $30,000 limitation if work is added after the original contract.

“Because it goes over that does not make you operating as an unlicensed general contractor,” attorney Ty McTier said.

WBTV started searching for other permits Turner pulled for pool projects across the greater Charlotte area. Five homeowners who hired Backyard Pool and Spa for a pool project got back in touch with WBTV.

Out of five WBTV spoke with, four said that Turner was unreliable and left their pools damaged. One of them said, “It was hell.” Three of them said the contracts ended up costing more than $30,000.

In the past five years Turner has picked up a lot more work in South Carolina, where no license is required to build a residential pool. A bill proposed by lawmakers that would require a license for residential pool builders never made it out of committee in the state senate.

Wilson said he’s filing a complaint against Turner with the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. Six years ago, the Board told WBTV they would be investigating Turner but now they say that investigation never happened because, they said, no complaint was ever filed.

Wilson told WBTV he would warn other homeowners against working with Backyard Pool and Spa.

“I would wait for the pool companies that are backed up. They’re backed up for a reason,” Wilson said.

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