5 On Your Side

Wake Woman Takes Matters Into Own Hands To Finish Gazebo

Posted August 19, 2005 9:19 a.m. EDT

— Earlier this year, Five On Your Side had the story about Merrilee Tomlinson, who paid a contractor up front to build a gazebo. When Five On Your Side got involved, Danny Jones, of Fuquay-Varina, promised a refund. He did not come through and moved to Florida, so Tomlinson literally took matters into her own hands.

In May 2004, Jones agreed to build Tomlinson a gazebo for $2,140. Tomlinson paid half, $1,070 upfront. Jones told her it would take three weeks, but he did not show up for months at a time.

Tomlinson said he gave her excuse after excuse. At one point, Tomlinson offered to help him.

"I've even told him I swing a mean hammer. I'll come hammer with you, but he told me not to do that," she said.

After waiting more than a year, Tomlinson did start swinging a hammer.

"We started all over again. I ripped everything off down to the floor, and I rebuilt it from the floor up," she said.

Tomlinson did Internet research, took measurements, bought the supplies and started building. All that is left to do is the roof.

"It's just so much fun. I just love it. I'm very proud of it," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson said he wishes Jones could see her handiwork.

"I would say, 'Danny, you would not believe how the gazebo looks, and it is so much better and it's so much stronger. You need to come out and learn how to do this,'" she said.

Five On Your Side talked with Danny Jones by phone. He still said he will refund some of Tomlinson's money. The real lesson Tomlinson learned is to thoroughly check out contractors before hiring them. Plus, pay no more than 10 percent upfront.