Omaha homeowner files lawsuit when contractor fails to build pool after $86,000 paid

One Omaha family's unbuilt pool has them filled with frustration -- and a lawsuit against the contractor.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 10:24 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Memorial Day seems to be a traditional start to the outdoor swimming season. That’s when one Omaha family hopes to take the first dip in their new pool. But the two-year project has been filled with delays that led to a lawsuit.

After firing a pool contractor six months into a project in 2021, Molly Zahunrones has been overseeing the completion of a backyard pool at her home near 180th and Q Street ever since.

“Yeah I’ve become my own pool builder and kind of know the ins and outs of everything after fixing his mess,” Molly said.

In a lawsuit Molly filed against Hudson Hardscapes, she and partner Ken Perchal allege repeated delays on the project and not all were weather-related.

“The Department of Health knocked on my door and told me whoever is building this pool does not have a permit to be building this pool.”

In an email response, contractor Adam Stanger says Hudson Hardscapes had obtained the DHHS permit and provided proof to Molly with a receipt four months after starting. Molly checked it out.

“He went and filed for a permit, but he was never granted that permit,” Molly said.

The Douglas County Health Department tells 6 News the contractor submitted an application that was not approved. The health department says the homeowner listing herself submitted the application that was approved.

But the lawsuit against the contractor is deep in the legal system, going on eight months now. And the summer is approaching, so the couple decided to become their own pool contractors, hiring at least eight subs and doing a lot of the manual labor themselves.

The homeowner’s lawsuit alleges they paid Hudson Hardscapes $86,000 in late April 2021.

“In the end, I’ve pretty much bought two pools,” Molly said.

The homeowners allege the contractor dug the hole and frame for the pool but a city report shows a failed outdoor plumbing inspection.

“Plumbing inspector instantly looked at the setup and said this won’t even pass compression and then he shut it down,” Ken said. “I was surprised he shut it down right on the spot.”

Pool contractor Adam Stanger says the inspector asked the pool be reframed so he started over and there was no material defect in the plumbing work. He blames delays on the weather in 2021 and would have completed the project, but the homeowners not only fired him but removed his excavator from the property which he recovered two days later. The homeowners say they’ll explain that when their lawsuit against Hudson Hardscapes goes to court.

“So do it the right way so the city can pass all the inspections and everything and have it done right,” Ken said.

The Better Business Bureau gives Hudson Hardscapes an F rating which the contractor claims is due to a couple of reviews over seven years and posted during COVID. The BBB calls them customer complaints.

”We have made contact with the company again and made them aware of these unanswered complaints, and they have indicated they are interested in responding if possible, so we’ll reopen those complaints,” said Jim Hegarty with the Better Business Bureau.

The day family members can jump in their new pool isn’t far away. But it’s already been filled with hard work that Molly and Ken are doing on their own.

“Hope to be swimming instead of sweeping by Memorial Day,” Ken said.

According to the Douglas County Health Department, pool projects have several expectations:

  • Inspectors review construction plans before a permit is issued.
  • Plans must also be sent to the city for a permit and get plumbing approved.
  • The health department requires the pool to be at least four feet from the neighbor’s property line.

After the pool is installed there’s a final inspection that includes fencing and gates. If everything passes, a final permit gives permission to dive in.

Hudson Hardscapes full statement

“Hudson Hardscapes submitted the proper paperwork for the pool permit prior to beginning construction. The final permit is not issued until construction is completed and the pool is inspected. As I stated previously, construction was not completed due to Ms. Zahurones termination of the contract.

As you know, Ms. Zahurones has filed a lawsuit seeking return of her payment. The matter has been turned over to counsel. I can’t comment further other than to say that Hudson Hardscapes performed substantial work on the project and was ready to complete construction. Ms. Zahurones terminated the contract and wrongfully tried to take Hudson Hardscapes’ excavator. Whether she is entitled to compensation under the circumstances is a legal matter that will have to be resolved by the court.”