Jonesboro, AR -- For almost 20 years, Melba Jane Walker and her husband have lived in their home in Jonesboro--but for that couple, living the American dream of owning a home is quickly becoming a nightmare.
"You want to get out of this but you can't," said Melba Jane Walker.
Melba Jane decided she wanted to expand her kitchen and bathroom area.
After asking around and even getting referrals, she hired the first contractor to do the job....that was in May of this year.
"The first one I hired, which was Joshua Carroll, was going to be seven thousand dollars. I gave him 3,500 dollars of it. He came in and worked about 2 weeks. He came in and tore down the back of our house. He jerked it down with a truck and put up a make believe floor.... the startings of it," said Walker.
We made several attempts to contact Joshua Carroll at the number Melba Jane says he gave her, but we were unable to reach him.
Melba Jane Walker says she then hired contractor Randy Eggers with the hopes that he would do the job.
She says he told her the job would cost 16,368 dollars.
She paid him 5,400 dollars up front.
"He got the job the last day of June and he left, we found out last Tuesday," said Walker.
Mr. Eggers declined our request for an on-camera interview but did offer this statement--"I'm not the contractor because she is hiring her own subs. We have made the offer to help her complete the job. We didn't pull the permits she pulled them," said Eggers.
For four months the Walkers have lived without hot water, without a kitchen area, and without a lot of answers.
"When it comes to home improvements you can't do too much when it comes to background checks and doing your homework before you provide any money up front," said President and CEO of the Arkansas Better Bureau, Janet Robb.
Robb offers these tips as well: always check for current and proper licensing, check with the secretary of state's office to make sure they're in good standings, make sure you have a signed agreement regarding the work that is to be done and payment plans, and never hesitate to call the Better Business Bureau for more answers.
"Most importantly, never pay more than 10 percent of the total cost up front," said Walker.
For Melba Jane Walker, she says she made the mistake of paying far more than 10 percent up front.
It's a lesson she's learning the hard way.....
"Right now we're at the point that if we don't get it done, we're going to have to tear the house down," said Walker.