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Florida couple sues the contractor hired to rebuild their burned down home

Fire victims sue American Building Concepts
Posted at 2:39 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 18:09:41-05

PASCO COUNTY, Fla — Tragedy struck Matt Shaw and his fiancé Joanne Morey on Christmas morning 2017. The couple arrived home after a family holiday gathering to find their New Port Richey home engulfed in flames.

“It took them a long time to put the fire out and we lost everything,” Shaw said.

"Everything” included things such as photos of his late parents. Shaw and Morey hired American Building Concepts in September 2019 to rebuild the house paying $26,400 the day the agreement was signed. Then Shaw said months went by and little work was done.

“They kept blaming it on another job,” he said.

I-Team Investigator Jackie Callaway checked Pasco County permit records and confirmed with a spokesperson the contractor didn’t pull a permit to build a new home on the site until January 2020.

Between January and September of 2020, Shaw wrote checks to American Building Concepts Inc. totaling more than $107,000 dollars. According to an invoice, one check, for $100,000, including windows, trusses and block walls. The couple claimed the windows and trusses were never delivered and American Building Concepts didn’t build the block walls.

In all, the couple paid the builder $135,000 dollars and said he left them with only a concrete slab and footers. This past July, two years after the original contract was signed, Shaw and Morey parted ways with the contractor and American Building Concepts refunded the couple $20,607.

In September, Matt Shaw filed suit in Pasco County Court alleging breach of contract.

Doug King is the chairman of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry also known as NARI. The I-Team asked King to look over the contract and other documents to give us his opinion as to whether the couple got what they paid for. King said, in his opinion, ABC still owes Matt and Joanne another $65,000 to $75,000.

King is basing his opinion on the construction he could see. But in an answer to the lawsuit, American Building Concepts said they were “paid for a limited scope of work” which they did. And blamed “additional costs” on the “multiple design changes” the couple made.

“My greatest fear is not being able to finish this house, having no money, and nowhere to live afterwards,” Shaw said.

State records show Anna Small as president of American Building Concepts and a company address in Hudson, which according to county records is a single-family residence. Neither Small nor her attorney responded to ABC Action News I-Team requests for an interview or comment, despite numerous calls, text messages, and emails.

Shaw hired another builder who is working on the home, but the couple doesn’t have enough money to finish the project.

“I can't sleep at night, my wife can't sleep at night, my stomach is in knots every single day,” Shaw said.

Attorney Grayden Dough, who represents Shaw and Morey, said he is in the investigative stage of the case. If the case is not settled; he will prepare for a trial which could be set in later 2022.