5 On Your Side

Pay-As-You-Go Best Plan For Home Repairs

Posted October 18, 2006

— A Johnston County woman learned the hard way that homeowners shouldn't pay contractors too much up front for renovations.

Melony Hill showed off a newly screened porch, new deck, garage doors and siding, saying she was pleased with the work Apex Construction had done on her home near Clayton.

The biggest problem is that the contractor didn't finish the job.

"I haven't lost any sleep over it, but I want it to be over," Hill said.

She hired Apex Construction in April to do more than $31,000 worth of work to her house. By the beginning of May, with most of the work done, she had paid all but the final $2,500.

Windows still needed to be installed, but Apex Construction owner Michael Luchansky said windows that had been ordered had arrived damaged.

Weeks later, he called Hill again, saying the windows were the wrong color. By July, Luchansky told her he was going with a different company.

"After we heard story after story, it kind of became questionable whether he could get the windows at all," Hill said.

She then realized the roof shingles he installed didn't hang over the house, creating the potential for leaks.

Hill gave Luchansky deadline after deadline.

"We either wanted the windows installed or we wanted our money back. I mean, it's just as simple as that," she said. "Toward the end, I didn't even want him to install the windows. It's, like, just give me the money."

Finally, she called 5 On Your Side.

"It's sort of stressful in the fact that I want to get my project completed, but I also need the money to do that," she said.

When 5 On Your Side called Luchansky, he blamed the refund delay on waiting for money owed to him. He promised to pay Hill, and within a week, he gave her a check for $10,850.

Hill has a contract with a new company and expects the replacement windows will be in by the end of the month.

As a rule of thumb, don't pay contractors more than 10 percent up front. Then, pay more as work is completed so neither the customer nor the contractor risk losing money.


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