North Carolina builder admits to code violations on dream home that family says is now unsellable

ByDiane Wilson WTVD logo
Friday, October 20, 2023
Chatham County Builder admits to code violations
A Chatham County home builder at the center of a Troubleshooter investigation had the chance to tell his side for the first time.

CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C -- A North Carolina home builder at the center of an investigation by ABC Raleigh-Durham affiliate WTVD had the chance to tell his side for the first time.

This happened Wednesday as the builder, Jeremy Lindley, faced the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors who will decide if he'll keep his contractor's license.

During the hearing, Lindley testified, "We try and do everything to code and we try to catch everything while we are doing the house."

Lindley took the stand and stated he's been a builder for 16 years and never had problems as he did with building James and Anita Muehlbach's North Carolina home. Lindley admits there are some code violations in the home. "I don't know how it got missed. I missed it, the framer missed it, the code enforcement officer missed it," Lindley added. However, he said the problems aren't as severe as Muehlbach's and the engineers claim.

In May, WTVD reported about the Muehlbach's home that was built by Lindley and his company Lindley Builders Inc. in 2020. Soon after moving in the Muehlbachs discovered more than a dozen code violations, many serious, even structural issues. The Muehlbachs took action against Lindley in several ways. First by taking Lindley to court and winning a $225,000 civil judgment. They also filed a complaint with the State since they are in charge of his licensing.

Wednesday, the NC Licensing Board for General Contractors finally heard the case. In court, a field investigator for the state and Professional Engineer testified they found 25 code violations in the home, many serious, structural issues. The field inspector for the board said the general contractor is ultimately responsible for the code violations even though Chatham County North Carolina inspectors passed each inspection of the home. He said the code violations documented in the Muehlbach's home are pretty bad. Cody Johnston a Professional Engineer whom the Muehlbachs hired to inspect the home also testified of the severity of the code violations saying they were worrisome.

"The failure modes that I'm most concerned about are connections because those won't give you any warnings of failure."

Homeowner, James Muehlbach also testified during the hearing. He said when he tried to get Lindley to make any corrections early on after discovering the problems, Lindley denied how bad the issues were with the home. Muehlbach added, "He said I didn't know what I was talking about. My engineers didn't know what they were talking about, my house was fine."

Lindley testified he wanted to rectify the issues with the Muehlbachs' s soon after the problems were discovered. Lindley said, "We've never been able to do anything." He claims the Muehlbachs wouldn't let him. "My hands have been tied. Couldn't inspect anything, my access was denied," Lindley added.

Jeremy Lindley, Lindley Builders

The Muehlbachs said Lindley had plenty of chances to make it right. WTVD reporter Diane Wilson pressed Lindley if he would make it right now, but he wouldn't answer any questions. Lindley said to Wilson, "I'm not doing an interview."

The Muehlbachs hope this hearing is a step in the right direction. James adds, "I'm just hoping this ends with some justice. You know, this probably isn't going to help us recover any money, but hopefully, this will prevent another family from being victimized and justice will be served." His wife Anita said, "I feel like that it's been a three-year battle for us. I just pray that the board makes the right decision and does, you know, give some kind of justice on this."

It's now in the board's hands whether Lindley will keep his general contractor's licenses. The board has twenty-one days to give a decision.

WATCH | NC family's dream home becomes nightmare after code violations missed during inspections

What was supposed to be a forever home for a Chatham County family is now an "unsellable" home that they fear isn't even fit to live in.