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Builders fail to finish homes, homeowners lose hundreds of thousands

Posted at 6:20 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 18:20:18-05

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Dozens of homeowners are out of tens - and in some cases - hundreds of thousands of dollars after they paid a Southwest Florida company to build their homes.

A few weeks ago owners Stephen Dukes and Mathew Harden, owners of Harden and Dukes or HD Custom Homes cleared out of the building where their business is listed. According to incident reports filed with Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, HD went out of business before completing construction of contracted homes.

Shannon Moore, a realtor whose clients have contracts with HD Custom Homes said now they have to start over.

“It was their life savings. A lot of them are elderly. They’re 65+ and they’ve saved for their whole lives. And now they have half-finished homes. They’re scared. They’re upset. They’re angry,” she said.

And now Moore said some have to work a little 9-5 job to make ends meet.

“I talked to people who said I’m going to have to go back to work. I’m 75 years old and I have to go work at Costco in Illinois because I can’t afford to come down,” said Moore.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said they received 25 complaints from people who have contracts with the builder. Moore said people have lost between $5,000 and $300,000 when considering the cost of liens and unfinished work they paid HD to complete.

Moore said she wants laws to change to make sure this doesn’t happen to more people.

“How many times does it need to happen to change some laws here?” She asked.

She said she’s considering the pockets of the homeowners and subcontractors who were not paid in this case. And if subcontractors aren’t paid, liens are placed on the home, which the homeowner has to pay for.

“I think the bank should be required to - within a few days of the work being done - required to have something that says the work has been completed and the contractors have been paid,” said Moore.

Moore said right now the bank’s only required to pay the builder, who then pays the subcontractors for completed work like painting, roofing and construction. but there’s no required follow-up.

Homeowners plan to speak out about these issues at tomorrow’s Charlotte County meeting.