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'Unfinished' New Port Richey house frustrates retired cop

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NEW PORT RICHEY, FL (WFLA) -

Just over three years ago, Richard James, a retired police officer from Revere, Massachusetts hired Larry Bagwill, of Bagwill Builders Group, to build a house for him on some property in New Port Richey.

The contract says the house would be finished in 7 months. It still isn't done.

So instead of stretching out and relaxing in a new home, James calls a small camper, that fits on the back of a pick up truck, his Florida home. And it's been that way for three years.

"I had no place to stay or live," James said.

James hired Bagwill in February 2010. He agreed to pay $70,000 for Bagwill Builders Group to construct the house on land he previously purchased.

But he couldn't stay to supervise the job. Diagnosed with a serious blood condition, James returned to Boston in the spring of 2010 for treatment.

"By the time I came back, the house was supposed to be built in 8 months, I came back in 9 months and it wasn't built," he said.

It wasn't even close to being built.

"It dragged on because he never paid not one draw on time, not one," contractor Larry Bagwill stated.

But canceled checks show in the first five months of the contract, James did in fact pay $60,000 of the agreed to $70,000.

James also contends when he returned from Boston, that not only was his house nowhere near finished, he claims Bagwill turned his property into a dump.

"He went across the street and he took the dock out of the house across the street and he piled it on my property," James said.

Bagwill argued that's not quite right.

"A guy was doing a dock, I let him use the property to put his dock there and build it, that was it," Bagwill insisted.

James then discovered that three subcontractors filed liens against his property. They had not been paid.

The state can discipline a contractor if he is paid, doesn't reimburse the subs and they in turn file liens against the property owner.

"Most of them have been paid out of my pocket and I didn't, I still didn't get paid," Bagwill said.

Two subcontractors told 8 On Your Side that Bagwill did not pay them and that is why they filed liens. The third did not respond to our calls.

Bagwill filed a lien against the property in September 2011. Though the contract was for $70,000 and canceled checks show James had paid him $60,000, Bagwill claimed he was owed another $20,000, including $10,000 for additional work he performed to move the house along.

James had enough. He hired attorney Chip Waller. Waller reviewed the Bagwill Builders Group contract and said it left a lot to the imagination.

"He couldn't possibly build this house for $60 thousand dollars so it was doomed to failure to begin with," Waller said.

In October 2011 James fired Bagwill.

Waller says he got rid of the liens using the Florida construction liens statute.

Basically it requires the property owners to fire the contractor for job abandonment,

"You give notice to your subcontractors that you're going to re-commence construction and you give them notice that they must re-file their claim of lien within a certain time period. If they don't, they lose all their lien rights," Waller said.

Waller claims that's what he did in this case.

Bagwill's lien expired.

James, now short on cash, hired Anmar Building, Inc. in March 2012 to finish the house.

"We had to clean up the site which had a lot of trash and excess debris and old construction stuff on it," said Anmar Builders', George Nicholas.

Nicholas said he also found a lot of the work on the house was not done correctly.

It will cost James another $47,000 on top of the $60,000 he has already shelled out to correct the problems and finish the house.

But James said he was thrown a curve ball when the new contractor took over the job.

He learned that Pasco County is charging him $16,800 for impact fees, something James said, Bagwill never told him.

"He knew that from the very beginning," Bagwill insists. He said he told James about the impact fees.

James insists he did not.

The county says a certificate of occupancy will not be issued on the property until impact fees are paid.

That may be quite some time.

James is pretty much out of money, hoping he an scrape enough together to pay the $47,000 needed to finish the house.

"I told Mr. Nicholas that I would pay him in pieces as I got the money. We signed a contract where I could do it over 2 years," James said.

In the meantime, James has filed a complaint with Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, claming that Bagwill Builders Group took his money, didn't finish the job, didn't pay the subs and left him without a house in which to live.

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