RALEIGH, N.C. — Would-be homeowners in Wake County say a builder took off with their down payments and left them with a real headache.
Brian Lane said he was having a home built for his family. After putting down $21,000 as a downpayment to James Capps' company, he said the only thing he has to show for it is a hole in the ground.
"He ruined me. This guy has sucked everything I got. I have no money in my savings account anymore. I have no money in my checking account," he said.
After signing a contract in March, Lane said Capps produced nothing but excuses.
"Everything that he has told me, I researched it now and found out it was all a lie," Lane said.
Lane also found out that he was not alone. Doug Evans has his home built by Capps. However, subcontractors who Capps allegedly did not pay placed liens on the property.
"I cleared all my balances. Everything is paid in full. I have done everything to be completely responsible about it," Evans said.
Another homeowner, Jason Hicks, claimed Capps still has $5,000 of work to do in his backyard.
"Part of building a project is completing the project, and he has failed to do that," he said.
Many of Capps' unfinished homes are spread out across Wake County. Many homeowners claim they have not been able to find him. WRAL went to Capps' home and found no sign of him. Old newspapers were on his driveway and notices of registered letters, including a $14,000 bill from a wall company, were on his door.
Formal complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau. The Homebuilders Association and the Knightdale Police Department have launched a criminal investigation against Capps.
To avoid similar situations from happening to potential homeowners, mortgage lenders said it is a good idea to set up an escrow account and pay as work is completed.