HOUSTON - Many homeowners decided to install swimming pools during the pandemic. Several customers say they paid big bucks to a local pool builder but were left with unfinished, and sometimes leaking pools.
Some customers tell us they paid tens of thousands of dollars to Amazing Backyards in Houston to build their dream swimming pools. But they say what they were left with was not so amazing, and had to pay thousands more to keep their pool dreams from going down the drain.
"I literally have text messaged him, and emailed like, Hey, when are you going to finish our pool? Did you forget me? Are you still alive?" said customer Tanya Jones.
Jones says she paid Amazing Backyards to install a swimming pool in her yard in November of 2020.
A year later, she showed us some of what she says was left unfinished.
"We have no lights in our pool. And our spray over here is missing tile," she said.
Jones says the pool leaks and she had to pay other contractors to finish parts of it.
"I had to get the slab painted. I had to find a contractor to finish the back of the pool because it was, like, nails were sticking out, wood boards were showing," she said.
"To say it’s been a nightmare, that’s an understatement," said another customer, Kathleen Northey.
Northey says she paid Amazing Backyards to build a pool in June of 2020.
"It cuts your feet. You can’t really walk, I can’t walk on it with bare feet," said Northey, showing us her pool deck.
She says she's had to pay other contractors to finish work and fix problems.
"We had to repaint the entire back of the house because they got concrete all over it. They had concrete on our screens. They totally covered my husband's grill in concrete," she said, showing us photos.
Northey says her pool leaks, too.
"Once we told him we had a leak, he never came back," Northey said.
The Better Business Bureau has given Amazing Backyards a D+ for not answering a complaint and two negative reviews.
"The customers are saying the business is not responsive, not completing the work, and not giving refunds," said Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau.
Two phone numbers for the contractor, John Oake, were disconnected, but we reached him by email.
He wrote to us, "I am aware we have had operational problems and suffered significant losses due to weather, labor shortage, and material increases."
But after agreeing to an interview, he later canceled, writing, "On advise of counsel, I must decline your interview. Although I have been in communication with Northey and Jones, some of the other remaining items are matters of pending litigation."
That pending litigation is that some customers say they're taking him to court.
"We paid him $40,000 and we’re trying to do a small claims court for $20,000 because the amount of money we’ve had to pay to get things fixed," said Northey.
The State of Texas does not require pool contractors to be licensed or bonded. Some localities do, but it varies by locality.
If you're hiring a pool contractor, be sure to check their references and online reviews.
If you are left with unfished work, the Better Business Bureau says you can refute the charge if you paid by credit card, or you can file a civil lawsuit and a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General's office.