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Rhino Custom Homes owner gives update on unfinished home

Posted at 12:00 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 00:00:54-05

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLA — Like deja vu, Mark Southwick, owner of rhino custom homes appeared before a Charlotte County licensing board again.

He testified before them last month, for a hearing to discuss why 15 homes across Southwest Florida still aren't complete and why they had more than $100,000 in liens against them.

Thursday he told the board he's paid about 20-thousand dollars worth of liens off, largely by helping build those homes himself.

"Unlike most contractors I actually put on my tools and work, so I painted houses, I steel-studded houses and all the money that I was gonna pay a contractor, I'm using to pay liens," said Southwick.

But his customers aren't buying it.

Tina McAtee says she paid Southwick almost $200,000 for a home that was supposed to ready in December of 2019, after a year of waiting.

It still isn't done.

"It's just a nightmare...He told me after this last hearing, 'I'm getting on it, I'm paying off liens, I ordered the shingles.' I don't have shingles. He can't put the shingles on until he repairs the roof," said McAtee

Another couple Fox 4 has previously spoken to says they're now working with new builders to finish a home they say he left unfinished.

"She [my partner] fired him in October, but we live with rhino every single day," said Clyde Hughes.

Those customers tell Fox 4, this is what they want to see come out of Southwick's hearing:

"If he loses his license at least I have a chance at some state money and maybe some money from the attorney general," said McAtee.

"I would like to see them prosecuted for what they have done to people. They deserve to be in jail," said Meredith Winner.

The board, also wasn't thrilled with Mr. Southwick's progress update and is asking for more information.

"You need a plan to get yourself out of this hole," said one board member.

Southwick is expected to come to next month's meeting to talk money.

Board members want to know how much he still owes in liens on these properties, how much money he's been paid on each property, how much money he's used up, and how much it will take to finish all 15 homes.

That meeting is scheduled for April 2.