NC lawmaker calls for changes to state’s Licensing Board to protect consumers from contractors

New developments come as WBTV continues to investigate an area pool contractor.
Unlicensed builder asked clients to pull permit
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:39 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STATESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - A North Carolina lawmaker is calling for the State’s Licensing Board for General Contractors to add more protections for consumers by better regulating contractors across the state.

“What I have seen is a licensing board that genuinely tries to solve the problems that are that it’s presented with...but they’re under-resourced. And lack teeth,” explained (D) Rep. Laura Budd.

Budd, an attorney by trade, has investigated contractors in North Carolina for years.

“Some of these contractors...are stealing six figures or up to a million dollars,” she explained. “Like one of the cases that I’m working on now. And those are contractors who routinely defraud and scam homeowners out of money for projects.”

When she heard about WBTV’s investigation into the owner of Sun Fun Pools in Iredell County, she said she had seen countless contractors like the owner, Tim Reid before. The company’s customers told WBTV the owner has left more than a dozen pool projects unfinished and said some of them are ‘out’ up to $30,000 worth of work in their yard.

“Somebody worked really hard to save that money,” said Budd, " When someone takes your money and you’re stuck with it half done, not done and your money’s gone. What’s the recourse?”

That is a similar question customers of Sun Fun Pools have been asking.

“We just don’t know why there isn’t someone who can hold him accountable. The courts haven’t seemed to bother him at all. So we just don’t know how this keeps happening and why there’s not someone who will step in and put an end to it,” said Christin Hardy. She has been trying to have Sun Fun Pools finish her family’s pool since they signed a contract with the company in 2021.

At the start of the project, Hardy, like countless other Sun Fun Pools customers did what Reid asked.

Hardy said, “We pulled the electrical permit, and we pulled a pool permit because he asked us to.”

Budd explained the permit was one of the first loopholes Sun Fun Pools went around.

“Homeowners should not be pulling their own permits. If you are hiring a licensed general contractor to do your project, or if that’s what you think he is. And that person says to you, but ‘I’m going to need you to pull the permits,’ that is an enormous red flag,” said Budd.

Budd said when a homeowner pulls the permit, they assume responsibility for the project.

WBTV asked Reid about why he asks owners to pull their own permits. In a phone call he said, “A lot of homeowners get their own permit...I would just be a subcontractor for them, that’s all I would be.”

In 2017, court documents show the State’s Licensing Board took Reid to  court for not having a license. In that case, the judge entered an order barring Reid from taking on jobs more than $30,000 without a license.

In North Carolina, in order to take on projects over $30,000, contractors have to hold a valid license.

However, despite the judgement against Reid, he continued booking customers.

“They followed all the steps. They used every tool in their toolbox. But the bottom line is this is just a piece of paper that says he’s not allowed to do this. It doesn’t actually have teeth,” explained Budd.

A frustrating answer to consumers like Hardy who thought they could trust their contractor and the system to protect them.

“We just can’t figure out how there’s not someone who can actually say, ‘Okay, this guy cannot do this anymore,’” said Hardy.

Budd said there needs to be a change in the law to protect the consumer.

“They’re not afraid of this piece of paper [a judgement] this does not prevent this particular pool contractor from coming to your house and knocking on your door and offering to do a pool for you,” explained Budd.

New developments come as WBTV continues to investigate an area pool contractor.
New developments come as WBTV continues to investigate an area pool contractor.(WBTV)

At the beginning of 2023, a requirement was added for contractors to pass a background check in order to earn their license in North Carolina. Budd said the problem is, that is just for new contractors.

It does not help stop ones that have been conducting business, some illegally, for decades.

“Why is that background check, not part of the annual renewal? It should be,” said Budd. " If you were doing the background check on an annual basis, and the contractor pays for it not the board, not the taxpayers the contractor pays for it, you’re gonna catch a lot more.”

Budd said, “You can see where there are there are holes in the system. And I think rather than maybe a wholesale overhaul or after the project has commenced. Maybe we need to look more at the prevention side.”

Budd gave a few tips for anyone doing any kind of construction project on their property:

  • Check the licensing status of the builder. Call the Licensing Board and see if there is any disciplinary history. Find out when their license expires and what their limit is.
  • Hire an architect or another general contractor to manage the project for you.
  • Get references and three estimates for every project. If someone says, ‘proceed with caution,’ They are not the contractor for you.

Related: Unlicensed pool contractor promises to finish outstanding jobs after WBTV investigation