A Maryland woman paid hundreds for a new walkway but was left with a mess in her yard.
When Michelle Farr decided to get a stone walkway leading to her basement, she reached out to Paul Epps, who she had hired for landscape work before.
“I said, ‘Hey, do you know anyone that does hardscape?’ And he said, ‘Oh, I do it,’” Farr said. “I said, ‘Perfect.’”
She said she gave Epps half the cost up front, $750.
Work started weeks later after several delays, Farr said.
“He comes out once and he does a little digging,” she said. “He has a couple of gentlemen with him, and so what I say is he was playing in the dirt, because they were building the trench, however there wasn't anything really happening.”
After that, the work was sporadic, Farr said. Epps blamed the weather, she said.
He went to her house two more times over the next month, she said, and posted photos on Facebook boasting the work he was doing there.
“There was a lot of posting on Facebook to give one the impression that there was activity,” Farr said.
But then the work stopped, she said.
“He left my home and my yard a complete wreck,” she said. “He left his equipment here. I still have two wheelbarrows here that belong to him.”
Epps initially told NBC4 Responds he agreed to refund her.
“I actually thought I was going to get a check,” Farr said. “There was a check that was supposedly in the mail, but as we are here today, there's no check. There’s been no sign of Paul Epps.”
NBC4 Responds repeatedly tried to contact him by phone, email and going to his house. After speaking to a family member, Paul Epps still didn’t get in contact.
Farr finally got her walkway by hiring someone else.
”I had to pay extra to get that,” she said. “I paid half of what I had agreed to pay with [Epps], $750, and then I had to pay another $2,200 to actually get this done.”
Here are four things you need to know before starting any home improvement project:
Make sure the person you hire is licensed to do the work. Paul Epps was not licensed in Maryland.
Get a written contract and don’t sign anything until you completely understand the terms.
Keep your deposit or down payments to 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, and don't pay cash.
Get three references and review past work. Sometimes a simple Google search will raise red flags.