Empty holes left in yards, homeowners lose thousands after paying pool contractor

ByDiane Wilson WTVD logo
Saturday, August 12, 2023
Empty holes left in Fayetteville yards instead of swimming pools
These homeowners paid thousands of dollars for a backyard oasis but don't have much to show for it.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Several homeowners in North Carolina are speaking up after they hired a Fayetteville company to install a pool.

The homeowners in Fayetteville, Hope Mills and Raeford paid thousands of dollars for a backyard oasis, but don't have much to show for it.

"We just want to have our own little pool in the backyard," Lashanae Ross said. While that's what Ross was hoping for, instead after signing a contract in March of this year with Dunbar and Bentley Home Improvement and paying $15,000, she was left with a big hole in her backyard and just the shell of a pool.

Ross said the owner, James Dunbar gave a lot of broken promises.

"He would have every excuse in the book like, 'I'm coming back.' The most recent in July, which is when I just said, 'You know what, I'm done with it.' He's like, 'Oh, I ran out of capital,'" Ross recalled.

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Same story for Kerri Deeds and Marcus Durden after hiring Dunbar in the spring of 2022.

"He came and did a little bit for us and would say, 'I'm coming out, I'm going to be here,' and he never shows up," Deeds said. Their backyard also has a big hole in it, with a shell of where their pool is supposed to be.

"We are in for $18,000. There are people who have paid more," Deeds said.

Tiara Smith is one of those customers as she paid Dunbar $25,000 in April of this year. Smith said Dunbar told her it would be a two-week project. However, now months later, Smith has no completed pool, all she has is a big hole where her pool was supposed to be completed.

Smith said she made it known to Dunbar she is not happy.

"You have $25,000 of my dollars that I worked hard for and you're not doing anything for it. I said, 'You've dug a hole and now my kid's safety is at risk because you have this huge hole.'"

While Troubleshooter Diane Wilson was at Smith's home, they got a hold of Dunbar. Wilson asked him what he did with Smith's $25,000.

"Well, some of it is in her yard, we had to rent machines to work in the yard and the other is to fund the company, it's not just her pool, we got labor and everything in her job," Dunbar answered. Wilson responded saying it doesn't cost $25,000 for a big hole and Dunbar said, "No."

When Wilson asked him about the other customers like Deeds' job that started more than a year ago, Dunbar said, "Their money is in their yard." Wilson asked if they had received $18,000 worth of work. Dunbar replied, "My company has been in trouble for the last 2.5 years and I've been trying to dig myself out of it."

While Dunbar took some of the responsibility, he also blamed it on the city for taking so long on getting permits, plus said bad employees caused a lot of problems.

"I'm the one, I'm not running from anything," Dunbar said.

Wilson questioned why he hasn't finished the jobs and Dunbar said, "I'm finishing them as we speak. We can if you would like, we could go around the ones that I am finishing, OK?"

Dunbar invited Wilson to his Fayetteville office to meet him. He didn't want to talk on camera, but offered to take us in his truck to go see the jobs he was completing, we asked to follow in our news car but he said no and instead showed Wilson pictures of pools he said he completed. He insists he just needs time and investors to finish the outstanding jobs.

It's a claim, his customers say they don't believe.

"You yourself, the owner of the company, should be out here with a shovel. You do what you have to do to get this made right because you're not making right in any way shape or form, and he's just full of excuses and he's sorry," Smith said.

When it comes to these jobs, the majority were all under $30,000 which means Dunbar does not need to be licensed, which he admits he's not and says that's why he keeps his jobs under that amount. To protect your money in cases like this, don't get tempted by a good price and assurances that work can get done right away. In all cases, these customers said they went with Dunbar as he was the only company that said he could start right away.