5 On Your Side

Couple Comes 'Home' After Nightmare Remodeling Job

Posted November 12, 2007

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— Carol McPhaul said she and her husband Tommy feel at home again after volunteers transformed a nightmare remodeling job into their dream home.

Carol and Tommy McPhaul, a disabled couple, paid a contractor to make their home more handicap accessible. Instead, he left their home unlivable.

After coverage by 5 on Your Side, a massive volunteer effort ensued, and the couple moved back into their newly remodeled home in August.

Carol took 5OYS’s Monica Laliberte on a tour to show how she and her husband are doing three months after moving back in.

“I love it. I love having everything home again," Carol said. "And it's home. It's really home."

“We’re getting it together, and I love this room,” she added, pointing to the newly added bedroom.

The bathroom was specially equipped to accommodate Carol, who is legally blind, and Tommy, who is wheelchair-bound. Tommy had not been able to take a regular shower in a year, and Carol said the renovated bathroom has made a big difference in his care.

“He can get a shower, and he feels clean and all that again,” she said.

Carol’s face beamed when she showed off her favorite room: the kitchen, which she said she uses everyday.

“I just love it. I love to cook and bake and stuff so I really enjoy it,” she said.

Her opinion of the entire renovated house? “I think it is all gorgeous,” she said.

But it took a lot to make this home even livable again, much less gorgeous.

In July, Carol showed Monica Laliberte a very different kitchen. Appliances were in the middle of the floor, cabinets were not hung correctly, and Carol only had one small corner to cook in.

The kitchen was only part of a remodeling mess that included exposed electrical outlets, dangling lights and holes in the ceiling and floor.

Contractor John Shearer left the McPhauls' then 1,100-square-foot home that way after they paid him nearly $125,000. Additionally, according to a suit filed by the NC Attorney General, Shearer charged at least $20,000 to the McPhauls' credit card for supplies that were never delivered.

In July, 5OYS tracked Shearer down by phone in Delaware. He told us he stopped working in April, because the McPhauls could not afford to finish the job.

“I'm a nice guy. I'm honest. I try to do the right thing. I've done nothing wrong and would love nothing more than to get this straightened out,” Shearer said.

At the time, Carol said, "Mentally, I'm beat. Emotionally, I cried for weeks and weeks."

After hearing about the McPhauls' situation, contractor Mike Marguerat volunteered his time to head up the project. Dozens of other volunteers and suppliers donated their time and materials. The remodeling job was completed and unveiled to the McPhauls in August.

Then in October, John Shearer was arrested on several charges – some related to his work for the McPhauls. An arrest warrant said he “sold or pawned” the items he bought with Carol's credit card without her permission.

“I think it's sad that somebody would do that to somebody else. And I think it's sad to destroy your life for money,” said Carol.

Carol said she learned a lot from the whole experience, from checking people out more thoroughly to accepting the kindness of strangers. She wants to help others avoid the trouble that plagued her.

“I've learned that I can do it now, and I can help other people by telling my story. That's what I want people to know: that we can tell the story and help other people not to be in the same situation,” Carol said.

Shearer’s case will go before a grand jury in December at the earliest. As of this week, he was being held in the Wake County jail.

His attorney declined our request for interviews.


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  • no.ral.old guy Nov 14, 2007

    Lesson for today, Hire a LICENSED GENERAL CONTRACTOR., Not just a "licensed " Contractor. There is a hugh difference. Some handyman gets a $50.00 business licence and calls himself a "Licensed " contractor.
    A Licensed general Contractor has passed state tests, been reviewed by a licensening board and most importantly, has passed the financial requirements needed to qualify for the licensed.

  • thefensk Nov 14, 2007

    Have to wonder if this guy was a "Traveller" ... this sounds like their MO. Why else would this guy have to be tracked down in Delaware? Plenty of local contractors if you look.

  • They call me CATMAN Nov 14, 2007

    John Shearer is a dirt bag. During Hurricane Floyd my parents house was flooded. They had a contractor who did the same thing. These type of contractors make me sick.

  • dsal68 Nov 14, 2007

    how about the contractors that do not pay their subcontractors. I know of one that has not paid us.. So if any of you know someone who is thinking of adding or remodeling their home.. Contact me so I can give you the name of who not to contract. I know the home owners he did work are not happy either--dsal68@yahoo.com

  • JustCrazy2 Nov 14, 2007

    Glad he is still sitting in jail. Maybe he will think about what he has done.

  • N2theM8trix Nov 13, 2007

    Well - I had not read this story and glad I did. Although I love a certain extreme makeover show on TV, I just said the other night that it is sad that it takes a TV show to help make people that happy, and to bring out the contractors. If I had a skill, or for that matter, with the free time we have, we could be doing good things like this, and doing it without the fanfare of TV programming to make your mark.

  • cuteboyd Nov 13, 2007

    Thank you WRAL TV5 for the update. Some of us do enjoy follow ups to previous stories aired. I'm glad the contractor was caught and hope we all have learned a valuable lesson from this.

  • happy Nov 13, 2007

    $125K to remodel an 1100 sq ft house? Seriously? That should have been the first clue! I've been on jury duty twice and I really don't want to be called again but I sure would be happy to be on this jury. That man is a low life scum to prey on the disabled and elderly.

  • DayumKrazy1 Nov 13, 2007

    I feel in this situation it is justified that this story gets all the attention it has, its a bad situation that went good and any follow-up about the crook who ripped them off lets us the public know something is being done about it. Ever since 5OYS did the story all reports since have been good and I would rather see good news on any story than bad news.

  • Iwasasoldier4u Nov 13, 2007

    “I'm a nice guy. I'm honest. I try to do the right thing. I've done nothing wrong and would love nothing more than to get this straightened out,” Shearer said.

    If this is what it takes to be a nice guy then there are many many people that have achived saint hood. This guy is a legend in his own mind, but don't take my word for it just ask him. This nice guy needs to pay dearly.