Special Report: How you can avoid contractor chaos

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – 10 On Your Side investigates claims from multiple customers of a swimming pool contractor who say they didn't get what they paid for.

Court records show that state regulators are taking the owner of Aqualantic Pools, Chris Powers of Virginia Beach, to court on charges of operating without a license.

A former customer reached out to us, and her posts on social media soon had others speaking out with similar stories. They told us about disappointing work, long delays, the wrong equipment and complaints that were never addressed.

One of those clients' stories involved a dying wish for a woman with cancer that ended up unfulfilled.

Powers has at least three judgments against him. The state says he hasn't had a license since April 2016.

Brooke Mora and her husband hired Aqualantic last spring to build a $25,000 pool at their Chesapeake home. “He promised me that I would have a pool by the middle or end of the summer,” she said. Mora says the work stopped in August, long before completion. She wishes now she would have checked out some of his previous jobs.

“I had not looked into any of them, no. I had not asked for referrals.” Mora says she had huge regrets about that but learned a valuable lesson.

Mora paid Powers $11,000 as a deposit, plus $3,500 for excavation.

She and Ron White of Norfolk have both hired attorney Chad Edwards. White’s experience with Aqualantic turned into a heartbreaking fiasco. “My wife always wanted a pool,” White said. “So we saved our money up and then she found out she had cancer.” White paid Aqualantic nearly $25,000. He told Powers that it was a promise he wanted to keep for his ailing wife Donna.

“I told her before she passed away that I was gonna have a pool for her.” White says he had several problems: the steps were rough and cutting through the liner, even after it had already been replaced once, mounts for the handrail were uneven; the pump was too small; a friend got hurt when the ladder collapsed.

After repeated attempts to get Aqualantic to correct the problems, time caught up with Donna White. It fell on the shoulders of White and his son to finish the job themselves. “This past year she got worse and she never got into it because Mr. Chris Powers never finished.” 

White’s attorney says he was appalled by the case. “It made me feel physically sick to listen to the details,” Edwards said.

Donna White exchanged texts with Powers, talking about the delays and the stress she was under with her chemotherapy treatments.

“Her last days were largely spent dealing with a very stressful situation that she should not have had to deal with,” Edwards said. So far, he has three clients who've done business with Aqualantic.“I think the real number of people that this has happened to is going to be shocking.”

10 On Your Side visited the address Aqualantic uses, a home in the Kempsville area of Virginia Beach. Powers’ wife referred us to their attorney, Jeremiah Denton. We called Denton three times but he did not return any of them. Powers did not return a phone call either.

We searched court records and found three former customers have sued Aqualantic and were awarded judgments - one for nearly $25,000.

The Bishops of Chesapeake were awarded more than $14,000 in a court judgment against Powers and Aqualantic. “Not a dime,” James Bishop responded when we asked how much of the judgment he has seen, or ever expects to see.

The Aqualantic Construction Agreement says the company is not responsible for several conditions, including weather and work stoppages. Bishop says when he asked Powers about work delays, the answers got pretty bizarre.

“It rained, it's too wet, or I forgot my tools or I don't have tools, or I can't get the material, my guys are drunk because of the holiday,” Bishop said about the reasons Powers gave for the delays.

Edwards says Powers misrepresented his credentials, and that will be the foundation of his clients' cases.

10 On Your Side checked with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR,) which says it terminated the license for Aqualantic in April 2016. The contract for White was dated that same day, but those for Mora and Bishop began after that termination.

DPOR is taking Powers to court in Chesapeake and Suffolk next month on a misdemeanor charge of operating without a license.

Edwards says his three clients represent more than $100,000 lost on pool projects. He intends to file his cases in the first quarter of this year.

Mora says she hired another contractor to finish her pool, and this time she checked references.

You can check whether or not a contractor has a license on the DPOR database, at this link.

Mora Pool Project

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