5 On Your Side

Couple gets plans but no home from builder

Posted January 19, 2011 3:32 p.m. EST
Updated January 19, 2011 6:00 p.m. EST

— A local couple who wanted to build their dream home said they paid a Wendell developer $29,000 and have nothing to show for it.

Sherry Gilliland can picture the log cabin she wants to build on her property: an A-frame house, with a 1,000-square-foot, wrap-around porch.

"There's no better place for a log cabin ... facing the pond and looking at the cows," she said. "We couldn't resist."

The cabin was supposed to be finished by now, but the man supposed to build it – Curtis Hare, owner of Deep Creek Log Homes – hasn't started on construction.

"For $30,000, we have a set of plans," Gilliland said. "We don't even have a hole in the ground."

Gilliland and her partner met Hare at a log-home show and visited his model near Wendell.

"(He) sounded like a great guy. (He) said all the right things," Gilliland said. "(We) checked out a few people that he had worked with. They were OK with him. And everything seemed to be OK."

In September 2009, the couple paid Hare a $7,500 deposit, which included payment for plans. Last spring, they gave him $22,000 for logs.

"We're all excited. We're getting ready to start our home, and he says, 'Oh, let me check on your plans,'" she said.

Gilliland said that Hare claimed the engineering firm hadn't finished the plans. After six weeks of hearing the same story, Gilliland called the firm directly. She found out that Hare never paid for the plans.

"I said, 'That's it,'" she recalled. "We're just getting ready to sign the loan with the bank. Thank goodness we didn't do that."

Gilliland paid the firm $1,300 for the plans and then told Hare she wanted her $22,000 back.

She said that Hare told her he was "going to try his best to get our money back," but she isn't hopeful. "That's not going to happen," she said.

Deep Creek Log Homes has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau. Other customers told WRAL News that they've had problems with Hare, from delays to quality issues to subcontractors who weren't paid.

In a phone interview, Hare blamed the down economy, but he said he believes that Gilliland "breached the contract." He claimed he was working with the engineering firm to pay for the plans and said he would refund Gilliland her $1,300.

He said that has already bought the couple's logs, which are "ready to be delivered," and that he's "prepared to build the house."

Gilliand said she no longer wants Hare to build it, but one way or another, she will get her home.

"My life is going to move on," she said. "I'm going to have that dream log home, hopefully in 2011."

Hare said that he expects to offer a settlement to Gilliland and her partner this week. He did not address other complaints against him that were made to WRAL News.

Hare recently started a new company, called Olde South Builders, but said he plans to finish all his contracts with Deep Creek.

With the new company, Hare plans to add remodeling to the business, saying he sees a "better future" in that.