BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - When it works as it should, a pond is an elegant addition and a sweet refuge. But, building a pond involves important engineering principles.
"It's a mud hole. Water won't stay in it," said Douglas Gough.
Omitting those principles could get you a half acre mud hole, as the homeowners call it.
"It's just a crying shame," said Gough. "I thought he knew what he was doing."
No one, not the contractor nor the homeowner, had the soil tested before digging to determine whether the location could sustain a pond.
"I'm a little bit upset about this pond. As you can see, it isn't holding any water. He started giving a bunch of excuses, 'Ain't enough rain, ain't enough drainage to it.' I've got documentation there's enough drainage to it," said Gough.
Douglas Gough and his wife say it was the contractor's job, and for $8,000, they trusted him to tell them if the spot they'd chosen was a dud.
"That was the way I was brought up. I was brought up to trust people on a word and a handshake, and we shook hands and he said he'd build a pond," said Gough.
Virginia law requires licensed contractors to provide a written contract for residential work. What the Gough's signed doesn't show much, not even a warranty. It only states: building pond, moving rock and blowing straw, paid $8,000.
The contractor was contacted before his attorney shut him down. He refused to go on camera, but said he didn't guarantee the work and wasn't liable.
William D. Crump, Jr. of Crump Construction, in Farmville said the Gough's wouldn't listen when he suggested building the pond 200 feet away near a spring. He said they insisted, so he gave them what they wanted. Douglas Gough says that's not true.
Buckingham County soil conservationists conducted testing after the fact and found problems with the soil. They recommend filling the pond with $5,000 worth of weather proof clay called bentonite, or, installing a $15,000 liner.
"We're between a rock and a hard place," said Gough. "We'd like to get something for our money. We haven't gotten anything but a mud hole right now."
The homeowner says a pond should hold water, and he's not satisfied. The contractor says he's been in business for 40 years and has built hundreds of ponds and dams. The State Board of Contractors says it has no record of Crump Construction.