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FL family has trouble getting pool finished

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LARGO, FL (WFLA) -

By now, Tiffany Thompson thought her daughter, Maci, would have a pool.

The Thompson family signed a contract with Nationwide Pools last summer to build a pool in their backyard, where Maci, who has muscular dystrophy, could swim to help keep her muscles strong.

"We thought if we get a pool here, we could give her the aquatic therapy she needs as often as she needs it," Tiffany Thompson said.

But the Thompsons say workers haven't been at their home in weeks and left an unfinished mess in their backyard. They also recently learned they could face liens against their home from subcontractors who worked on the project.

More than a half dozen homeowners have contacted 8 On Your Side to complain about difficulties in getting pool projects finished with Nationwide, which is based in Pompano Beach.

It's not just the delay that's worrying the Thompsons. Tiffany Thompson said she recently got a phone call from an electrician who worked on her pool.

"He was in a situation where Nationwide had not paid him and he had no choice but to put a lien against our house," she said she was told.

Florida law allows subcontractors to try to collect from homeowners when they haven't been paid for a job, even if the homeowner already paid for the work through the main contractor, said Kevin Jackson, chief investigator with Hillsborough County Consumer Protection.

"Construction lien law is not built or drafted in the terms for consumer protection," he said. "It's really there for the protection of the business and the contractors."

The Thompsons say they financed $23,000 for their purchase, made a $1,250 down payment and have been making monthly payments to a finance company on time and in full. After learning about the potential lien, the Thompsons filed a dispute with their finance company, GE.

Reached by phone, Nationwide owner Keith Stuart said the company is working on getting subcontractors paid.

Regarding the Thompsons' pool, Stuart said in a text:

"Nationwide pools would like to finish and complete the project but can only do so with clients' cooperation."

He said the pool is 95 percent complete and that Nationwide would plaster the pool within three business days if the Thompsons cancel their credit dispute and "forward final payment as per contract agreement."

Stuart did not respond to inquiries for details about that payment, but Tiffany Thompson said that Nationwide recently contacted her about a payment owed for some deck stenciling. Thompson said the company wanted to pick up that payment, but no one responded to her multiple emails about picking up the money.

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