5 On Your Side

Couple Comes 'Home' After Nightmare Remodeling Job

Posted November 12, 2007 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2007 6:36 p.m. EST

— 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.