Woman struggling after fire & renovations

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Bouncing back from a fire is difficult for Deborah Hewlette. She's nearly homeless and needs help. NBC12 investigated a complaint against Hewlette's contractor. Now a look at how this ordeal has changed her life.

Deborah says her health is failing, she can't pay her bills, and she's doing things she's never done before -- just to survive.

"I've got Prego, cans of tuna. I don't have money to buy food. I can't eat. I'm just stressed. I don't know what to do," Deborah said.

She's embarrassed but eternally grateful. For the first time, Deborah Hewlett is going to the Food Bank for her meals.

"I'm ashamed that my neighbors are seeing my house the way it looks. I am ashamed of my situation. But then I tell myself, 'why am I ashamed?' I didn't do anything wrong."

Deborah was struggling before her contractor problems, and when the two met, her life forever changed.

"He said he was going to restore my house the way it was supposed to be...with an addition he was going to expand my bathroom and my kitchen for me. That's what we agreed. That's how he got the job. Because he said he was going thru a divorce."

Deborah says her mortgage company disbursed $100,000 to Johnathan Powell of 'Compass Construction Management and Services, LLC" and he failed to deliver.

"The painting and everything…everything else you see I did myself and I got my bathroom," Deborah said. "Johnathan offered to do extra things all for that price and so I wanted it done."

Now she needs help keeping her home.

"I'm in a position of losing my house right now. Give me my money back. Just give me my money back," she said.

We still haven't caught up with Johnathan Powell. He won't return our calls but, according to paperwork, filed with the Board of Contractors -- 'Compass Construction' blames Deborah. It says she breached the contract with changes and upgrades that raised the cost of the job. 

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