Florida lien law bites homeowners in NBRC Construction case - WNCN: News, Weather

Florida lien law bites homeowners in NBRC Construction case

Posted: Updated:
Palm Harbor homeowner Joe Zigler had never heard about Florida's Construction Lien Law. Palm Harbor homeowner Joe Zigler had never heard about Florida's Construction Lien Law.

Palm Harbor homeowner Joe Zigler had never heard about Florida's Construction lien law when someone from a roofing company called NBRC Construction knocked on his door in December 2012.

Zigler now says that the law, together with NBRC's questionable business practices, could cost him ownership of his home in a foreclosure action due to unpaid bills.

He's facing a lawsuit for more than $4000 worth of unpaid supplies, plus attorneys fees, court costs and 18 percent interest on the unpaid debt.

"It's all wrong," Zigler said. "It's just dead wrong."

NBRC Construction sold hundreds of homeowners like Zigler on the promise of storm damage insurance claims that would pay for total roof replacements on their homes in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

But an 8 On Your Side investigation revealed the company folded last year, leaving much of the work undone and owing a fortune to contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.

Under Florida's lien law, homeowners who signed on as NBRC customers are responsible for many of those bills -- even though NBRC collected money from insurance companies that were supposed to fund the work.

"The people in the construction industry should be accountable for their own actions,"Zigler said. "That's just not how it works in the rest of the world."

But thanks to Construction lien law, that's precisely how it works in Florida.

"The risk of nonpayment has to fall somewhere," said attorney and Lien Law expert Brian Deeb. "This is another situation where a homeowner has lost control of the flow of funds but hasn't escaped responsibility under the law."

Essentially, the burden falls on consumers to make sure subcontractors and suppliers are paid, even after consumers pay general contractors for the work. The way that's supposed to happen is for consumers to obtain a written "release of lien" or "lien waiver" from every subcontractor and supplier before doing outpayment in full to a general contractor.

"The homeowner needs to make sure that they have some control over the flow of funds," said Deeb.

But, that's not how it worked for Zigler and scores of other NBRC customers who signed paperwork at the outset, assigning all insurance benefits directly to NBRC as a condition of their work contracts. That provision essentially gave NBRC total control over all of the proceeds.

"To simply sign a blanket assignment...could be a great mistake," said Deeb.

Fraud investigators with Florida's Department of Financial Services tell 8 On Your Side they have identified 27 separate bank accounts operated by NBRC and 110 potential victims as part of an ongoing criminal investigation of the company's business practices.

The consumer advocate in Florida's Department of Insurance is also working on behalf of NBRC customers as well as lobbying for legislative reform that would make insurance companies more accountable for making sure work is performed after insurance proceeds are distributed.

But none of that will help Zigler, who is now resigned to paying again for the roofing supplies that his insurance benefit already paid for once. If he doesn't pay, the roofing material supplier could foreclosure on his home and end up owning it in lieu of the $4000 debt.

Zigler still can't understand how NBRC could take his insurance proceeds and leave him holding the bag for the unpaid supplies used to replace his roof.

"If it were me doing something wrong I'd be behind bars already," said Zigler. "But for some reason, they're not and I don't understand why."

Learn more: Florida's Construction Lien Law, Protect Yourself and Your Investment

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Tax free back to school shopping is here

    Tax free back to school shopping is here

    Friday, August 1 2014 6:23 AM EDT2014-08-01 10:23:38 GMT
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
  • Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:10 PM EDT2014-07-31 22:10:55 GMT
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
  • Tampa Bay Water begins filling Bill Young reservoir

    Tampa Bay Water begins filling Bill Young reservoir

    Thursday, July 31 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-07-31 21:45:52 GMT
    Tampa Bay Water is celebrating a rebirth of sort for its beleaguered Bill Young reservoir. TBW is now diverting water from the Alafia river and filling the reservoir after a massive gutting and renovation project that cost in excess of $124 million dollars.
    Tampa Bay Water is celebrating a rebirth of sort for its beleaguered Bill Young reservoir. TBW is now diverting water from the Alafia river and filling the reservoir after a massive gutting and renovation project that cost in excess of $124 million dollars.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Pinellas school district asks Crist to pull TV ad

    Pinellas school district asks Crist to pull TV ad

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:32 AM EDT2014-08-01 09:32:42 GMT
    The Pinellas County school district is asking former Gov. Charlie Crist to pull a television ad filmed at an area high school.
    The Pinellas County school district is asking former Gov. Charlie Crist to pull a television ad filmed at an area high school.
  • Closing US 301 for repairs create headaches

    Closing US 301 for repairs create headaches

    Friday, August 1 2014 12:16 AM EDT2014-08-01 04:16:16 GMT
    It’s been a headache for many who travel U.S. Highway 301 in Riverview after the roadway was shut down. But FDOT expects the roadway to be back open about midnight Thursday.After a nearby construction crew damaged a 24-inch water line in the area, water poured out and created a hole, damaging the asphalt on U.S. 301.“It’s still every penny counts, I would say $30 to $50 possibly,” is how much the road closure cost Bee...
    It’s been a headache for many who travel U.S. Highway 301 in Riverview after the roadway was shut down. But FDOT expects the roadway to be back open about midnight Thursday.After a nearby construction crew damaged a 24-inch water line in the area, water poured out and created a hole, damaging the asphalt on U.S. 301.“It’s still every penny counts, I would say $30 to $50 possibly,” is how much the road closure cost Bee...
  • New "Fire challenge" video spurs warnings

    New "Fire challenge" video spurs warnings

    Thursday, July 31 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-08-01 02:43:41 GMT
    Videos of a dangerous stunt are spreading all across social media. You can see examples on sites like Youtube and Facebook. It's called "The Fire Challenge" and involves young people dousing themselves with rubbing alcohol and lighting it up on their bodies. Burn victim and now, Tampa General Hospital volunteer, Joe Versaggi, knows all about the horrors of fire. He's undergone 30 surgeries after a fiery plane crash 8...
    Videos of a dangerous stunt are spreading all across social media. You can see examples on sites like Youtube and Facebook. It's called "The Fire Challenge" and involves young people dousing themselves with rubbing alcohol and lighting it up on their bodies. Burn victim and now, Tampa General Hospital volunteer, Joe Versaggi, knows all about the horrors of fire. He's undergone 30 surgeries after a fiery plane crash 8...
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.