‘Such a blow’: Some homeowners say builder left them in bad shape

CHARLOTTE — Enzo Pazos and the McSwains both say they used Antonio Linares in the past and liked the results. So, they hired him again for bigger projects.

Pazos says Linares was supposed to build him a tiny house in his backyard, but that he didn’t do the work. Now, Pazos says he’s out $26,000.

“He kept pushing it, ‘Give me another week, give me another two weeks, give me another three weeks, I’ll give you the money back,’” he told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “We kind of gave up on him.”

The McSwains say they paid Linares to build them a traditional house they planned to sell. “We trusted him with everything,” Brandon McSwain said.

They say he did the work but he didn’t pay multiple subcontractors who came to their door asking to be paid.

“The glass guy showed up,” Amy McSwain said. “Countertop guy. Every electrician. HVAC company.”

The McSwains say they aren’t sure where the roughly $150,000 they say they gave Linares went. “Such a blow on so many different levels,” she said. “We basically just want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else.”

Linares’s business is called AL Framing and Exteriors. The company is registered with the Secretary of State and in good standing, but Linares isn’t a licensed contractor in North Carolina and would need to be one to do projects over $40,000, which the McSwains and Pazos say theirs were.

Linares got in touch with Action 9 after our story initially aired, asking to explain his side.

He told Stoogenke that he was not acting as the McSwains’ general contractor, saying that he was solely a consultant. He says if any subcontractors have problems, that’s on the couple and not him. He says the McSwains stopped taking his advice and tried to complete the project on their own.

In Pazos’ case, Linares claims that he didn’t give a refund because “they gave a non-refundable deposit.” Linares says he spent hours with Pazos during planning and initial consultations.

“I had them scheduled to perform the work and they chose to break the contract,” he told Stoogenke.

Advice from Action 9 for any time you hire a contractor:

- Research the company name, but also the owner’s name as well. After all, he or she may change business names to escape bad reviews.

- Pay as little upfront as possible — no more than 1/3 if you can (more for very custom jobs).

- Make sure he or she is a licensed contractor (if the project is over $40,000 in N.C., $5,000 in S.C.).

Here’s how to check in North Carolina: Link

Here’s how to check in South Carolina: Link

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