Homeowner horror stories continue to pile up as unhappy customers of Worcester contractor Mutual Builders Inc. keep coming forward.
For Mary Hanly of Oxford, who purchased her home four years ago, the situation literally stinks.
Hanly bought her home from Mutual Builders with a USDA Rural Development first-time homeowner loan. Since she moved in, Hanly said, there has been a hole in her front concrete steps large enough for a family of skunks to adopt.
Hanly said Mutual Builders owner Jay Pelletz agreed to fill the hole when Hanly signed the final papers to purchase the home.
It took Pelletz two years, she said, to return to fill in the hole. However, she said, all he did was block the gap with a piece of untreated wood to keep the skunks from under the stairs.
After reading a previous Worcester Sun story regarding numerous other complaints from Mutual Builders customers, and seeing a photo of how her stairs should be supported, Hanly called Pelletz and left him a message asking him to come back and fix the stairs.
As of Christmas Eve, Hanly had yet to hear from Pelletz.
Likewise, numerous attempts by the Sun to reach Pelletz for comment went unanswered.
“This is only the tip of the ic[e]berg about shoddy work, problems, bad building experiences, and the cheapest of materials (closeout materials likely), used in building these houses,” Hanly said in an email. “If I were to write an article, I would title it, ‘Taking Advantage of People who never thought they could afford a house.’ That one would apply to me at least.”
Hanly added that she will likely make a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and possibly discuss a class action suit along with others who claim to have had similar problems with Mutual Builders.
“I love my home. It’s a beautiful house. But there were a lot of issues when I moved in,” Hanly said.
Yvette Sanchez of Southbridge, who works with Hanly, also purchased a home with a USDA loan from Pelletz in August 2011.
In the past four years, Sanchez has also had problems with her front stairs. The stairs have slowly separated from the home and are now completely unattached.
“I grew up in the Bronx and my dream was always to have a home. And now my home has become a nightmare,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez had mold issues in her attic that were fixed by Pelletz after Sanchez got the USDA involved. The first floor of her home sinks in certain areas, a cabinet in her kitchen has fallen apart, and her grass laid down by Pelletz has always been dead, she said.
“All of the homes where we live have been built by him [Pelletz],” Sanchez said. “And our house is one of the most beautiful ones, but it’s awful to look at it because the grass is dead.”
Last winter, the roof on Sanchez’s home leaked through and ruined walls on her top floor. According to Sanchez, Pelletz came back not to fix the roof, but to paint the walls to hide the water marks.
“If we decide to sell our house, what are we going to make on it? We are going to have to pay to fix whatever he [Pelletz] hasn’t come back to fix. I feel bad for anyone else trying to build their house.”
Sanchez and her husband filed a complaint in 2013 with the Better Business Bureau.
In fact, including being listed as a member of the BBB in Worcester, the company’s website says the business belongs to the Builders Association of Central New England, the Small Business Association of Worcester, Friendly House Webster Square, Builders Association, and the Worcester Regional Association of Realtors.
All of these organizations either do not exist or were posted incorrectly on Pelletz’s bio. In the cases of the BBB and the Worcester Regional Association of Realtors, Pelletz is not a member.
Since November, Mutual Builders’ rating with the BBB has dropped from an “A+” grade to a “B.” The lower grade is due to two unresolved complaints by former Mutual Builders customers.
One of those complaints, from Nov. 25 — which was recently made available to the public — detail the account of Jeanty Pierre Paul of Dudley.
Pierre Paul, a father of five, is living in a home that Pelletz allegedly worked on for two years and still didn’t complete, while taking $83,500 from Pierre Paul to complete the home.
A representative from Mutual Builders did reply to the BBB complaint placed by Pierre Paul and wrote, “During the construction Mr. [Pierre Paul] was not able to adhere to the payment schedule, and agreed to allow Mutual Builders to put a mortgage on the property in order to secure the interest in the home. Mutual Builders went forth and finished the main part of the home so that an [o]ccupancy permit could be issued and he could move in on February 6 2014.
When Mr. [Pierre Paul] was unable to get a loan to pay back the mortgage, there were a few items left on the house that Mutual Builders did not complete until some payment was made. Mutual Builders then started foreclosure proceedings on the property and just before the foreclosure date, in August of 2015 ,Mr. [Pierre Paul] was able to pay the monies owed. At that time as he had become very difficult to deal with, we offered him a reduction on what was owed so that he could find a contractor to finish the items he was requesting. He did not want to do that. Since that time we have tried to come to an agreement with what items were needed to fulfill our contract and what items he was demanding that we were not responsible for.”
According to Pierre Paul, Pelletz has been avoiding him since at least this fall, and even though the Mutual Builders representative admits that Pierre Paul paid all the money owed to Mutual Builders, Pierre Paul said that the company never came back to finish the work.