5 On Your Side

Dozens of complaints dog Cary-based remodeler

Posted March 28, 2011
Updated March 29, 2011

From a kitchenette to a bedroom to a TV room, the vision for Jason and Kim Weed’s attic is awesome.

“It was a basic stud attic,” said Jason Weed. “There's about 1,100 square feet up here to finish and we thought since the economy was down, we would be kicking ourselves later if we didn't finish it now while the prices were good.”

Instead, he’s kicking himself now. That’s because the room is far from complete.

The debacle began last year when, after interviewing five contractors and checking with the Better Business Bureau, Weed hired Home Restoration Assistance or HRA. The Cary-based business is owned by Ryan Wells and his wife, Lauren Griffith.

The cost of the remodel: $20,000. “He wasn't the lowest price, but he seemed very professional,” said Weed.

Work began in October and was supposed to be finished by the end of November. As work progressed, Weed says he paid a total of about $14,000. The job seemed to be going well. “His contractors were always on time. They were very respectful. Every contractor that was used was great,” Weed said.

That was until the end of November, when Weed says work stopped. Soon after, a subcontractor told Weed he had not been paid. “Then, you know, the first of the year we get a letter from this company saying he's out of business,” Weed said.

So far, Weed is one of at least 22 people now complaining about Wells. Most say they are out money.

  • Chuck and Nancy Reagan bought a home hoping to retire and say they paid Wells $50,000 to remodel it.
  • Mark Lacey said he paid Wells more than $52,000 for a "major home renovation" and "HRA never started the project."
  • Paul Rehm answered a promotional email just weeks before the company closed. He says he paid Wells $5,000 down.
  • Combined, customers say they are out about $270,000!

And because Wells is not a licensed contractor, legally, he wasn't even allowed to do some of the jobs he agreed to do. Under North Carolina law, a contractor must be licensed to accept any job over $30,000.

Jason Weed Cary remodeler logs dozens of complaints

WRAL found pages of complaints on the Internet, and an "out of business" sign on the door of HRA's Cary office.

Early this year, a number of homeowners including the Weeds anonymously received a packet of information. It included a photo which the sender says is of a white board in Wells’ office. It has dozens of addresses, job statuses and dollar amounts. The packet also included an enlarged photo of Wells.

At the Wells' Apex home, 5 On Your Side found tire tracks in the front yard, a foreclosure notice on the front door and a busted back door that allowed a glimpse of the complete mess inside. We called Wells' seven different phone numbers. All but two are disconnected. Messages were not returned.

At this point, Weed just wants to get the word out.

“My concern is he's gonna open up shop somewhere else and do it again,” Weed said.

He is now working directly with the subcontractors to get his job done. But he believes Wells should be arrested, although he says police told him it's a civil matter.

“He should be prosecuted for that,” said Weed. “The laws don't allow for it so I believe he's gonna do it again, and you'll have the same story in another year and a half.”

Despite what local police told Weed, investigators in Cary are looking into possible criminal charges against Ryan Wells because of multiple cases there. Also, Wells' bankruptcy attorney tells us he plans to file bankruptcy soon, and that there likely won't be any money left to pay back homeowners.

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  • jwall810 Apr 6, 2011

    If you say anything about not giving a contractor a deposit, you probably go to work behind a desk and have a nanny raising your kids. Contractors have bills. We have to pay our bills. It is hard to front alot of money for material,gas, laborers, etc...! Not to mention, you have no clue how many times contractors get burned and dont get paid. Some people say that you can put a lien on the job. Yes, you can, but that takes time and aggravation. Come on people, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!

  • anonemoose Mar 31, 2011

    14‑104. Obtaining advances under promise to work and pay for same.

    If any person, with intent to cheat or defraud another, shall obtain any advances in money, provisions, goods, wares or merchandise of any description from any other person or corporation upon and by color of any promise or agreement that the person making the same will begin any work or labor of any description for such person or corporation from whom the advances are obtained, and the person making the promise or agreement shall willfully fail, without a lawful excuse, to commence or complete such work according to contract, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

    It may be a misdemeanor, but at least it will get him into court and subject to it's jurisdiction.

  • Mugu Mar 30, 2011

    That is why you should never give a contractor cash in advance or a deposit.

    Pay for the materials directly to the supplier, pay the sub contractors directly and only pay the contractor at the beginning of every week upon presentment of an itemized invoice for labor hours.

    It is more of a PITA but worst case scenario, you will not be out much money.

    If the contractor is reputable enough, they will understand.

  • NCSUPackfan Mar 29, 2011

    I wonder why Monica Laliberte didn't apologize on the news tonight for reporting that this Ryan Wells started a new home-remodeling company called Blue Sphere. The new company is owned by another Ryan Wells. That has been taken out of the web story and edited from the report. Tonight David Crabtree regretted any confusion.

    Apparently Monica needs to do some more fact checking before she does one of these sensational investigative reports. Smearing another guy by the same name on the news is as bad as ripping people off like the 1st guy in this story.

  • Tarheel born Mar 29, 2011

    BigUNCfan,
    You should learn to close your mouth and let people think your foolish rather open it and leave no doubt when you have NO idea what you're talking about. The vast majority of LEOs have at least two year degrees plus 9-12 months of intensive training in the classroom and in the field. Many have 4 yr degress plus advanced training. So they are more than able to give "legal" advice in terms of criminal prosecutions oivil liability...

  • Desiderata Mar 29, 2011

    Sad this has happened.. doing my own remodeling.. hard work, takes some time, but I know it will get done!

  • rebecca7 Mar 29, 2011

    koolbike1... being a business owner myself, I also understand that the BBB is a business too. It's frustrating to know that people put such trust in an organization taking these businesses money to list them. It's such a guise as a "qualifier" for finding legitimate, good businesses. Your best bet is other customer referrals in any case.

  • yabo2k3 Mar 29, 2011

    This "man" is smart enough to open a business and scam people out of their money, he is smart enough to open the business as an LLC. This means there is no liability beyond the business itself. He cannot be arrested or charged with the dealings of the business. It is not that he took the money and ran. He took the money, performed some level of work, and the business "failed". This means the only opportunity is to go after the business.

    As for contractors saying they need their money up front, I don't know how you are in business. I guess PT was correct that there is a sucker born every minute. A business has far more laws for collecting than a homeowner. You can put a lien on the home, you can sue the homeowner, and you can disassemble the work done. Homeowners are limited be legalities for small businesses. A contractor would be crazy not to have LLC.

  • Hampshire Mar 29, 2011

    Talk about off-topic "Cops giving advice on the law. That is funny. Never get legal advice from someone who probably graduated high school and took a two week course on basic law. Not bashing, just stating fact."

    Generally speaking, cops do know when an arrest is appropriate. And most educated individuals know the difference between criminal and civil legal issues. Next time you get pulled over, be sure to mention to the cop what an under-educated law official he is.

  • bigal02282 Mar 29, 2011

    Here's how I've managed to avoid things like this. When you first interview the person for potential work, take them aside, whisper into their ear "Now we're not gonna have any problems with this here job are we? My boys Guido and Tony "One Thumb" Pistachio don't like it when people tries to takes advantage of my kindness. Do we have an understanding? Well do we?" and if he hangs around, then he should be good to go.

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