Contractor’s bankruptcy turns Durham County family’s home renovation into $37,000 nightmare

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A decision by a Durham County couple to renovate their home has turned into a nightmare and the contractor who they hired to do the job left a string of broken promises after taking over $37,000 from them. It’s money that may not be recoverable.

The Sung family loves their Bahama location in Durham County, but with a growing family, they needed more room.

However, the contractor they hired disappeared after taking two deposits from them and never did any of the work.

With four girls between the ages of 2 and 9, and a new baby on the way, Beth and Kai Sung hired Zach Myers and his company Mahlen Builders.

“He’s the general contractor so, he’d be in charge of the whole renovation,” said Beth Sung.

The Sung’s signed a contract on May 3, paying an initial deposit of $10,000.

The contractor requested another $27,500, because he said renovation involved ordering lots of specialized material, such as new support trusses for the attic.

He explained the $27,500 would be used to secure the construction materials so they would be there when they needed them.

He told Kai Sung, “There’s a 10-week backlog because of COVID,” according to the father of four.

Sung said the contractor promised, “We can get you going by September or August.”

By September, no work had started, and the Sung’s said the contractor had missed several meetings with them to discuss the project.

Finally, at the end of September, the Sung’s had an “audio-only” Zoom meeting with the contractor.

“He said the trusses had arrived and we were waiting on the contraction permit, and we’d be able to begin,” said Beth Sung.

By early October, the Sung’s were getting anxious.

Beth Sung emailed Durham County about the permits on October 18. The county told her no permit was ever issued or applied for.

The county also told her there was no record of any building permits for their address.

When they asked contractor Zach Myers about that, he assured them he’d send documentation to show he indeed applied for the permits.

They said that documentation never came. Instead, eight days later, the contractor dropped a bomb on them.

Kai Sung send they got “a one-line email saying due to COVID he was going to declare bankruptcy and had lost everything.”

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