Frustrated St. Johns County homeowner turns into TikTok star sharing issues with local pool builders

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Two St. Johns County homeowners are expressing their frustrations after paying tens of thousands of dollars to swimming pool contractor Russell Builders, and months later, the work is still incomplete.

Plus, some of the work that has been done has led to failed inspections.

Mark Olson is one of the affected homeowners and said he has spent over $60,000. For that reason, he has taken to TikTok to voice his frustrations with the company’s work.

“You see I hired a company, and I thought their logo was ‘we build leisure pools’ it turns out it was ‘we build pools at our leisure,” Olson said in one of the videos posted on TikTok that has received over 400,000 views.

Olson hired Russell Builders to build a pool in his St. Augustine backyard a year ago.

“The TikToks are kind of like my therapy because this is all very maddening,” Olson said. “If you just let this get you then it’ll keep you down. But if I can laugh about it, then that’s my serenity.”

Olson said he is filing a lawsuit against the company for the job he said they left behind. His contract gives a timeline of six months to finish the pool. But he said he has been left with little more than a hole in the ground.

“I had serious concerns when I started really looking at it. And seeing all this stuff, so I had rebar exposed here. There’s rebar exposed right here,” he said while showing News4JAX the pool.

Olson added if he were to start over again, he would have to pay between $120,000 to $130,000 to get rid of the current work and rebuild a new pool.

But Olson is not the only homeowner reporting issues with Russell Builders.

Stacy Gibson had her pool completed by the same company.

“I have multiple leaks, uneven pavers, bad marcite job, inadequate plumbing...My pool’s not the same size I contracted for,” Gibson said.

According to Gibson, her pool has not passed a final inspection, and records show the permit is still open for the job that she signed a contract for in 2021. There are several issues she says are going to cost her tens of thousands of dollars to fix after paying $58,000 to Russell Builders.

“I’m up to $36,000 in estimates to get to the pool, the pavers, the plumbing, and the driveway that I contracted for,” she said.

Gibson said the pool leaking is her biggest stressor.

“Every time I come out here, I look and my pool is in terrible shape. It does not look like a brand new pool at all,” she said.

St. Johns County Code Enforcement is aware of complaints against Russell Builders and is actively investigating.

About the Author:

Tiffany comes home to Jacksonville, FL from WBND in South Bend, Indiana. She went to Mandarin High School and UNF. Tiffany is a former WJXT intern, and is joining the team in 2023 as Consumer Investigative Reporter and member of the I-TEAM.