‘I cried day and night’: Home builder complaints continue

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several buyers claim a local home builder has been collecting deposits for houses he doesn’t deliver as promised.

Action 9 first uncovered serious complaints against the builder in 2015, but consumers are still complaining over denied refunds.

“I cried day and night because all I wanted to do, honestly, was to just go and build a house for my family,” Janet Carter said.

She thought she had found a new home in Palm Bay. Carter, a single parent with five children, signed a contract with Solar X Homes.

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The builder advertised a solar house with no electric cost that was hurricane-proof. After paying a $2,000 deposit, Carter said the builder kept delaying construction and dodging her phone calls.

“Yeah, they kept putting me in circles, and circles and then that’s when I got really upset.” Carter said she canceled the contract after eight  months with no signs of construction.

Carter said Solar X initially agreed to a refund, but that didn’t happen. “I was even crying.  I cried to her and said, ‘I need my money.’”

At the Solar X Homes office near Orlando, Todd Ulrich found the office had been cleared out.

Solar X Homes is rated F by the Better Business Bureau.  Four other buyers claimed they could not get their deposits back. One consumer claimed losing nearly $10,000.

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Action 9 first exposed the builder seven years ago. The location has changed and there have been two other company names, but the complaints then and now are the same.

“I still don’t have my money and as you can see, the house still isn’t finished,” Ellen Waldrop said.

When Waldrop signed her new home contract, the company was called The Eco Home Company, offering solar homes with no electric cost. Five years later, Waldrop claims the home has not been finished, and Eco refused to return her $2,000 deposit.

“When you go to call them, they don’t return your calls,” Waldrop said.

The principal manager at both companies was Richard Rivera, a home builder Action 9 first investigated in 2015 under the name KCV Custom Homes. Buyers said they paid KCV for homes the company did not deliver.

Now, seven years after Ulrich’s first investigation aired, Orange County investigators have charged Rivera with unlawful contracting. He faces a trial this spring.

Rivera contacted Action 9. He denied ever acting as a contractor and said he will prove his innocence in court. Rivera also told Ulrich many buyers got their money back, but Waldrop was not his customer at the time.

Action 9  has helped other home buyers get refunds since 2015.

Carter sued the title company involved in her bad contract and was able to get all her money back.

“And it wasn’t like they cared about anything,” Carter said.

This case is extreme, but buyers need to check public records and complaint histories before writing paying a deposit for a new home.

Richard Rivera response:

Allegation 1- Deposit Return to Palm Bay Lady.

Response 1- Deposit was held by Title Company and was returned in full to buyer by said title company upon request.

Allegation 2- Deposit Return to 2018/2019 Buyers in Debary (Waldrop)

Response 2- I did not own The Eco Home Company when the above mentioned buyers did their contract and placed their deposit. I will let the actual owners know so maybe they can authorize the title company to return the deposit. This matter has Nothing to do with me.

Allegation 3-  Unlicensed Contractor

Response 3- DBPR saw some of the existing homes in my social media that I have built utilizing Licensed General Contractors and interpreted it as if I was marketing to build them. DBPR’s ridiculous complaint which triggered the baseless charge was NOT about me building houses without a license, their complaint was about me “supposedly”  advertising to build houses without a license which I have never done in life. DBPR attempted to contact me during 2021 COVID Quarantine period to request my version of the facts which would have ended there; however, since my office was closed due to the Quarantine, they were unable to get a response; therefore, they submitted the file to the DA in default. The charges are 100% baseless. I pay and have always paid licensed general contractors to build my homes. As an investor and developer, I have NEVER in my life built a home, offered to build a home or have had any interest in building a home. I hire and have always hired and paid General Contractors to Build the homes for me. What’s even more ridiculous is the fact that it’s impossible to obtain a building permit to build a home without having a general contractor’s license. Feel free to look up any home I have paid to build and you will find who the Licensed General Contractor who was paid to perform the work and complete each home actually was.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.