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After builder closes, clients left in the cold

Families are out of a house after a home builder abruptly closes. Where'd all their money go? Newswatch 16's Stacy Lange has more in this Action 16 Investigation.

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. — A home builder in Columbia County abruptly closed last month, much to the surprise of more than a dozen families working with the company on their dream homes. 

The Bradshaw family broke ground on their dream home in Orange Township, just outside of Bloomsburg, on March 1st. 

They hired Vision Home Builders as their contractor. But, Amber Bradshaw is still using her imagination.

According to Amber, Vision told her work was expected to be complete in eight months. But, trouble came after just two months. 

Amber tells Action 16, without any warning signs, Vision Home Builders closed up shop at the end of April. The Bradshaws were sent an email where Vision's President, Jeffery McCreary, blamed pandemic-related losses for the closure.

But the Bradshaws say they've lost a lot too.

"It's about $181,000 and some change there. And that's what we got for it," Amber said.

A foundation and a subfloor. 

Amber doesn't believe the bill for those two things adds up to $181,000. 

"It's a lot to process. We're angry, we're upset, I mean, we're devastated, really. It's crazy that they could do this and then do it to so many of us," she added.

Amber has been in contact with a dozen other families like hers.

On a property in Butler Township in Schuylkill County, Ron Herbst's story is very similar.

"This is our dream home. Where's the money?" Herbst said.

Herbst paid Vision Home Builders more than $100,000 about two weeks before the contractor abruptly closed. The money left Herbst's account on April 13th. 

Ron only has foundation walls that he's now supporting with 2x4s.

"We just tried to secure it, cause with the rains, you know, it's springtime. Just don't want the dirt washing in," he said.

While Ron prays for dry weather, Vision's site near Bloomsburg is deserted. 

McCreary has hired an attorney who tells Newswatch 16 he plans to respond to 13 complaints filed with the State Attorney General's Office.

Ron and Amber are among them. They don't have homes, but Vision's clients hope they can be made whole.

"I mean, it's one thing to fold up shop, ok, you know, but it's another thing just to take people's money and have no course for repayment at all," Amber said.

"I'm sorry that his business closed. But, do what's right by people," Ron added.

Vision's President Jeffrey McCreary sent a statement to Action 16:

"In 2019, we learned that the system that had served us, and every other homebuilder, did not work well in the pandemic era. While home builders and homeowners know when each job is originally bid that construction costs are variable and that the overall costs of the job could increase, no one could have anticipated that the prices of materials and labor would increase so dramatically during this pandemic era. 

Our construction agreements have always allowed us to ask our customers for additional money if costs were higher than originally forecast, but we found that the pandemic had not just affected us, but rising prices and lost jobs had affected most of our community. Confronted with this reality, we faced extremely difficult choices as a company—to continue work and possibly break our customers financially or stop work until prices returned to normal and, by doing so, delay our clients’ dreams of homeownership. 

Instead of asking people to dig into their pockets for money that wasn’t factored into their mortgage approval or that they didn’t have, we did what most other businesses were forced to do: wait and watch for the pandemic to end and the markets to return to normal. 

But the pandemic continues, and the prices continue to rise, forcing our company to say goodbye to its employees, close its doors, and roll up its job sites. 

As a company and as part of this community, we are sorry that we could not make our existing clients’ dreams come true. We’re working hard to evaluate each client’s situation and respond to each to the best of our abilities. 

On a more personal note, as the owner of Vision Home Builders and legacy member of the community, I endeavored only to ever add value to the lives of the clients we serve. I am deeply saddened that I was not able to outlast the current economic crisis and keep our doors open."

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