Home Bittersweet Home: NewsChannel 11 Investigates Homeowner Nightmares - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/16/08

Home Bittersweet Home: NewsChannel 11 Investigates Homeowner Nightmares

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Steve Daniel found his customers through friends and friends of friends. The ones we spoke with say he was nice to them.  They say he seemed very trusting, but some would agree he was more like a wolf in sheep's clothing.

"What happened to all the money?" NewsChannel 11's Cecelia Jones asked. He did not reply.

Steve Daniel is the owner of Cornerstone Quality Homes, Mastercraft Homes and Diamond S. Construction.  He filed for bankruptcy two months ago and he owes 147 people more than $1 million.  He owes banks, businesses, credit card companies and people.

Cecelia: "There's a woman about to be homeless.  Do you feel bad about it at all?"
Steve:  "There's two sides to every story."
Cecelia: "Then what's your side?"
Steve: "It will come out in the courts."

In the meantime, Stacy Archer is one of the people Daniel owes money. He built the duplex that she designed.  Stacy was banking on it to be her future investment. 

Stacy: "He got over $100,000."
Cecelia: "From you?
Stacy: "From me, yes."
Cecelia: "In cash?"
Stacy: "In cash and I had $15,000 in the home.  I bought all the lights I bought the tile."

Stacy claims she gave Daniel $100,000 to put on the loan. But she later discovered he never did.  To make matters worse, when Daniel filed for bankruptcy, he still owned the duplex and the bank foreclosed on it because Stacy says he would never close on the home.

"Where does this leave you now?" Cecelia asked. "Homeless in two weeks," Stacy replied. 

Stacy isn't the only one living the nightmare.  Mike and Shannon King and their two kids have been living in an apartment for three months. It's been a year since they started working on their home and their dream home sits, unfinished, on a dusty open lot. 

In March, all construction stopped because the money was drying out even though they had a loan large enough to cover the cost of the home. "What we did was a cost plus with our bank so he was able to draw money to pay the contractors that were doing work out here," Shannon said.

Shannon says they couldn't find out where Daniel had spent more than $100,000 of their money.  "We don't know where that money went. He can't account for it. He didn't pay our sub-contractors and they now want their money from us," Shannon said.

In the end, they may never get that money back and they have to spend more just to finish their home.  Stacy is trying to work out a deal with her bank to keep her home. She says it may not work out which makes her very upset. "How is he getting out of trouble and leaving us devastated?" Stacy asked.

But the man who says there are two sides to every story still had nothing to say to us. "You're messing with families and their homes. Do you have anything to say about that?" asked Cecelia.

We know there are at least five families who have lost lots of money. One, we should mention, lives in Olton.  The Breedloves filed a lawsuit against Daniel because he was overcharging them and couldn't provide accounts of where he was spending the money they gave him to build their home. 

At his bankruptcy hearing last week, Daniel says that family owes him over $100,000, and because they stopped paying him, he had to file for bankruptcy. Another man we talked to said he paid Daniel $15,000 for a down payment to build his home.  Two months later, Daniel filed for bankruptcy.

Stacy Archer and The Kings have filed reports with the police department. They are hoping law enforcement will pursue this case.  

The West Texas Home Builders Association advises you check out the builder before hiring them.  

  • 1. Check to see if the builder is registered with the state. You can do so by going to the Texas Residential Construction Commission.
  • 2. Check to see if that builder has a good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
  • 3. City Hall keeps a publiclist of all the homes permitted by that builder. Contact those homeowners and just ask them their experience with the builder.
  • 4. Ask the builder who their banker is and call to check if they are in good financial standing before you enter a contract with that builder.
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