5 On Your Side

Garner woman learns hard lesson about hiring contractors

Posted January 28, 2009 7:13 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 4:04 p.m. EDT

— Now more than ever, people want to get what they pay for. So it is wise to be extra careful when hiring a contractor. Never pay more than 10 percent up front.

Businesses that require more may not be financially solid.

It was a lesson Nancy Welsh learned the hard way when she hired a contractor to build her grandson's nursery.

“It is was supposed to be a lovely surprise. It was supposed to be nice. And it was supposed to be (done) three months ago,” she said.

Welsh is adding the nursery to her daughter's house, along with an extended deck.

“It has been absolutely horrible,” Welsh said.

Welsh says she blames Richard Stacy, owner of RPS Contracting. Stacy was arrested two weeks ago on charges he took money from another customer without doing the work.

Welsh hired Stacy in October. So far, she has paid $9,000 of the $12,000 he quoted for the job. However, she says getting him to actually show up and do the work was a problem from the start.

“Everybody is sick – sick or in an accident, or going through a divorce and having hard times,” Welsh said. “He has an excuse list longer than the China Wall. It just goes on forever. They just flow like water."

In mid-December, rain got inside the area where the addition connected to the existing house.

“Where this door is was a window, and water would run along that beam and then come down onto the window and spread out,” Welsh said.

Damage from the rain caused sheet rock and insulation to have to be removed, and a big dryer was brought in to dry everything out.

"It just saturated all of that, including the carpet,” Welsh said.

Welsh says she left Stacy repeated messages about the problems.

He “wouldn't even come then, wouldn't even come when the roof and all that damage was done,” Welsh said.

Welsh is one of three people who complained to 5 on Your Side about Stacey. It turns out he has even more problems, however: a long rap sheet showing arrests on multiple charges of forgery, writing bad checks and taking money but not doing work.

When 5 on Your Side talked with Stacy by telephone, after he got out of jail from his most recent arrest, he said he simply "underbid" the jobs and he couldn't complete them for what he charged.

"I didn't take these people's money and ... hit the Caribbean," Stacy said.

Welsh says she doesn't care about what Stacy did with the money, she just wants some of hers back. Then she can pay the other people she has since hired to finish her grandson's nursery.

Stacy told WRAL he wants to work out something with Welsh and that he would have his attorney contact her. So far, that hasn't happened.

Stacy learned about Welsh through an online "contractor finder" service that promises qualified and reliable people. Welsh's story is a reminder that you should do a background check, call references and check with the Better Business Bureau before hiring a contractor.

If Welsh had done that, that she would have learned that Stacy has a "C" rating.