Following Worcester Sun’s Nov. 15 report detailing the year-long runaround endured by would-be homeowners Jesse Messier and Dawn Derusha, several individuals reached out to share similar stories and experiences with Mutual Builders and its owner Jay Pelletz, including an Oxford man who claims the developer owes him nearly $12,000.
The common theme of the complaints? No follow through, a lack of communication and misleading information.
According to Jayson Brimmer of Oxford, Pelletz was initially open and seemingly forthright with costs, time frame and other options prior to signing a purchase and sale agreement.
Brimmer signed the PSA in September 2014 and, like Messier, was given by Pelletz a four- to six-month window in which his home would be built.
“He [Pelletz] already had the land cleared, so he wasn’t starting from scratch. But by the time March  came around, the house hadn’t even been sided yet,” Brimmer said. “From that point on, every time we spoke he [Pelletz] would just give me a four-week time span and promise me that he’ll get it done.
“We would go there every week just to find that nothing got down and nothing was completed.
“He [Pelletz] would go weeks without returning phone calls. So from there, we got our attorneys involved and withdrew our offer,” Brimmer said. “He [Pelletz] offered us a credit on our house at closing and promised another 30 days. After each day past the 30 days, he would’ve paid us $500 a week. That 30 days came and went. During that time, he would work for a couple days and then we would go two weeks without hearing from him.”
According to a contract between Pelletz and Brimmer [Editor’s note: A portion of which was shown to the Sun.], Mutual Builders had until July 31 to obtain an occupancy permit. If Pelletz was unable to obtain the permit, Brimmer could terminate the transaction and Pelletz would have to return Brimmer’s deposit.
These revised terms, according to Brimmer, were initiated by Pelletz and his attorney, Steven M. Rubin.
Brimmer decided enough was enough and withdrew the offer in August.
Brimmer had put a deposit of $11,675 on the house — money he said he is still waiting to be paid.
Multiple attempts by the Sun to reach Pelletz went unanswered.
As the Sun reported, Messier and Derusha’s Charlton home was scheduled to be completed in October 2014.
Nearly 14 months later the house remains incomplete. The couple is already on its 10th PSA with Mutual Builders and will require an 11th with a closing date of Dec. 15.
AiVi Nguyen, a business and trial lawyer for Worcester-based Bowditch & Dewey, told the Sun, “The problem for the buyer in this situation is that by signing the extensions, he is agreeing to [the] delay of the project. While it’s easy to see why a buyer would feel compelled to sign an extension – because he still wants the house and is hopeful that it will be finished soon – it makes it difficult for him to argue that the seller breached the purchase-and-sale agreement by not delivering the house on time.”
Last week, though, the day after the Sun published its report on the Messier home, Mutual Builders was at the house installing the missing front stairs, and loam was spread for their lawn.
The next day the heat was hooked up.
Since then, according to the couple, there have been days without anyone working at the home. The deck is still not finished [keeping the couple from obtaining an occupancy permit]; trim and flooring were ripped up in the guest room because a vent for central air conditioning was discovered after flooring had been laid down over it; and the stairs inside the home haven’t been sanded and stained.
Messier and Derusha, indeed, still face a number of items to check off before moving in. They are waiting on inspections [house, septic, etc.] and permits to be completed.
According to a subcontractor doing septic work on the house, the septic inspection will be held up because Pelletz hasn’t paid him for work already completed.
Debbie Cannalonga had Mutual Builders build her a home five years ago, also in Charlton. Unfortunately for Cannalonga, she moved in before Mutual Builders completely finished.
Like Messier’s home, much was left undone.
“They did come back once to ‘fix’ my issues after I put a complaint in with the BBB (Better Business Bureau),” Cannalonga told the Sun. “They didn’t do all the fixing and left me hanging again.”
Cannalonga’s complaint to the BBB reads: “The quality of the house built just 3.5 yrs ago is poor. My house was built Aug 2010. There are numerous cracks and walls crumbling. The roof leaks, some of the outlets do not work and the front lawn never grew due to numerous rocks and stone left. The ceiling cracked and someone was sent to fix it and it cracked again. The corners are all crumbling. The back deck was built poorly as it has already started to fall apart. The building of this house was done poorly. The quality of products used tell me it [sic] corners were cut. The front steps came detached and it was “fixed” and they are detached again. The driveway was given one coat and that’s cracked and pot holes in it. I have referred people to Mutual Builders, but I will not refer anymore. I am not happy. I read the other complaints on here and [it’s] like a broken record. Everyone has the same issues.”
Messier said that since the Sun’s story on Nov. 15 Pelletz has at least been communicating via text much more frequently than before.
“I’m getting responses from him. Mainly just texting, but that’s an improvement. They are more frequent, but they’re still pretty vague,” Messier said.
“There’s been progress. Just not nearly as fast as it should be,” Messier added. “He needed the work to be done by last Thursday and he didn’t meet that requirement. We knew with the holiday coming up that there’s no way we could close by Nov. 30. Now we just hope that Dec. 15 will the day to finally close on the house.
“We’re really hoping it’s settled before we have to deal with any snow.”