Saturday, 5 December 2020

WRAL Investigates: Complaints follow contractor from job to job, state to state

Diane Dieter has a basement and attic remodel that should have been finished months ago. Now, she’s one of six homeowners contacting 5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte about problems with the same contractor.

All paid Roger Simmons and his company, Modish Remodeling, tens of thousands of dollars for projects that were left unfinished – bathrooms, bedrooms, a garage remodel, a bonus room, even a deck.

Dieter’s home is a construction zone, in a standstill. Her unfinished basement was supposed to become a bedroom, bathroom and TV area. The attic was to be converted into a room for her daughter.

“She was really looking forward to this being a bedroom for her,” said Dieter.

After getting multiple estimates, Dieter hired Simmons. She was impressed by photos on his Facebook page and website.

“He had pictures of work that he had done – porches and decks and patios and finishing rooms such as this,” said Dieter.

HPW: Renovations that Add Value

She says in December, Simmons agreed the projects would be done by the end of January. She paid him $18,000, in installments, as the job moved along.

“The plumber showed up. The electrician showed up. There was some sheet rock going on, and he’s like, ‘Oh, I need the next installment because I have to buy the fixtures,'” recalled Dieter.

Dieter says Simmons pushed back completion to February, then March. She says in April work stopped and excuses started.

“He got ill. His son was sick. He had the flu. He had three workers quit on him. He was running behind. He spread himself too thin. He had too many jobs and not enough help, and just excuse after excuse after excuse,” said Dieter.

She then discovered problems with the work.

In the attic, all the sheet rock had to come down so the inspector could check the work. Dieter says the inspector told her the insulation was not put up properly.

And 5 On Your Side found that in early July, police arrested Simmons on fraud charges, after a Durham homeowner told them she paid him for work he didn’t complete. Simmons has a September court date for that case.

Combined, the six Triangle homeowners who complained to 5 On Your Side had paid Simmons $89,473 for unfinished projects. One agreed to a partial repayment for the unfinished the work, but says Simmons stopped sending those payments.

5 On Your Side’s investigation also uncovered problems in other states. We found complaints against Simmons in Texas. His company there was called Home Envy Design Construction. One review says Simmons skipped out on a job.

In Virginia, there are 23 court judgments against him, totaling $52,000 that he owed individuals and businesses. One Virginia case ended with his contractor’s license revoked back in 2004.

Homeowners burned by contractors have another resource--the Homeowners' Recovery Fund

It turns out, the photos online that so impressed Dieter depict work done and posted online by other contractors across the country. 5 One Your Side called Roger Simmons and spoke with him after he got out of jail. He blamed his web designer for the pirated photos.

He also talked with us about his past, his time in prison for taking money and not doing work. He told us, “I did my time for that trouble.”

As for the Triangle customers who complained to 5 On Your Side, Simmons claims the problem is he simply underbid their contracts, saying he “tried and tried and just can’t seem to get it right.” Simmons said he’s “not booking any jobs right now,” and offered to finish what he started. Homeowners tell us, with all they’ve been through, they don’t want him back.

Simmons does not have a North Carolina contractor’s license, although a license is only required for jobs where the value of the work exceeds $30,000.

Beyond the quality of the work, Dieter is one of two homeowners who said sub-contractors showed up at their homes saying Simmons never paid them.

5 On Your Side says it’s important to periodically check to make sure subs are being paid whenever you have any kind of work done. If they’re not, they can put a lien on your home to get their money.

“I would like him punished,” Dieter said. “Then I would like him to never do this to anyone else again because it’s just been a nightmare.”


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