NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A woman in North Little Rock has been forced from her home after paying a contractor tens of thousands of dollars.
Last year, Gretchen Madison paid local contractor Marcus Dupree of Northstar Consultants to build her a new home with money from an insurance claim. What she got was a poorly constructed house with a long list of code violations.
"I just miss being at home," said Madison. "We thought he was honest. I trusted him, and it's got me in a situation."
"She believed in this guy and believed that he would do the right thing and then he totally let her down," said Madison's son-in-law Todd Parsley. "She's lived on this property for 50 years. Dhe is all about her garden. I mean she loves her garden. There's nothing in life besides God and her family that she loves more than her garden."
Now Madison lives with her daughter, and Parsley and is suing to try and recoup her money: nearly $58,000 that she paid to Northstar up front.
"This project was really, really bad," said Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board Administrator Greg Crow. "There were obvious problems, there were code violations, documented code violations, other general issues that raise a whole lot of concern."
Crow said there are a number of ways to protect yourself as a consumer:
- Get several estimates from different contractors
- Verify their experience by checking references
- Check to make sure the contractor is licensed by the state
- Require a written contract
- Do not make any large down payments unless it's a huge project
"If your contractor can't afford to go out and buy the shingles for your roof, pay the laborers to put it on and wait the 2 days it takes before you're satisfied, and you know the job is done, and it meets your standards before you pay him - you need a different contractor," added Crow.
Madison, meanwhile, is still without her home and without her money.
"I've always been taught to be honest and to be trustworthy and that's what's gotten me in this situation," said Madison.
Madison said she got bids from three different contractors and checked on Dupree's licensure with the state before hiring him. THV 11 made repeated attempts to contact Dupree at his Northstar Consultants phone number. None of those phone calls were returned.
On Wednesday the state Contractors Licensing Board voted to deny Northstar a renewal on its license.