News 2 I-Team: How to protect your money during home building process

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — If you’re dealing with damage from Hurricane Matthew, you may be in search of a contractor to help rebuild. It’s important to choose the right contractor so you don’t get scammed.

Last month, the News 2 I-Team shared the stories of a group of people who say they lost money to a home builder, but there are steps homeowners can take to protect their money.

Linda Rhyne, Darren Messer, Mark Fish, Betsy Hopkins, and Richard Burke all hired Josh Zollweg and his company, Moss Construction, to build their homes.

“He’s really affected a lot of people. He’s ruined a lot of lives,” said Linda Rhyne.

The five homeowners say Zollweg took thousands of dollars of their money that they thought was going toward creating their dream home.

“When that first draw left our hands, it was a whole different experience. Ever since then, it’s been a nightmare,” said Darren Messer.

They all say Zollweg left their homes unfinished and claimed he was out of money. Some are now facing liens and foreclosures from sub-contractors they say Zollweg never paid.

“Right now, we have 4 liens on our house and a foreclosure because of the work that was done that Josh didn’t pay,” said Rhyne, when we spoke in August.

The I-Team met with civil attorney Ryan Neville, who helps homeowners through the building process.

He says there are steps you can take to protect your money.

First, research the builder. You can look for references online, and also try to dig up their past.

“Search court records. These are all public documents,” said Neville.

“Just because somebody shows up in a court record doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, but it’s worth exploring,” he said.

When the I-Team searched Joshua Zollweg, we found his name appeared in more than a dozen lawsuits in Charleston County. Most of them were filed by subcontractors who claim they weren’t paid.

Neville also suggests you research the bank with which you choose to borrow from for the construction costs.

“If you don’t know of banks, talk to people who have done this before get their referrals,” said Neville.

2 years ago, Richard Burke hired Josh Zollweg.

Burke needed a construction loan, so he says Zollweg pointed him to TD Bank. Burke isn’t pleased with the outcome of the project.

Burke says Zollweg took about $175,000 from the construction account, and Burke had no idea.

TD Bank released a statement in reference to this story:

“At TD Bank, the security and safety of our customers’ finances is our top priority, and we take appropriate steps to manage customer and consumer inquiries.”

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