December 3rd, 2009

We’re starting over – goodbye Hansen and Horn

After much consideration, and with advice from our attorney and Realtor, we have decided to terminate our relationship with Hansen and Horn and walk away from the house.

By not having the financial resources to build the house they sold to us, Hansen and Horn is in breach of contract. We have requested our earnest money be returned, but today in court Hansen and Horn admitted (as many already knew) that they are insolvent. We will be filing appropriately as a creditor, but we may or may not ever get our thousands of dollars back.

We did our homework. We had a Realtor experienced with builders watching our back. We researched their history. We went with a company that had an excellent reputation as a local builder, not a big-box home production company. We did what we were supposed to do. How did we get here?

We signed our contract with Hansen and Horn in July of 2009 after spending about two months shopping builders and considering our options. Our house was originally to be done by the end of November. You can read my glowing dissertation on why we chose Hansen and Horn, at which time, by the way, there was no indication that anything was wrong. They had an “A” with the Better Business Bureau, our Realtor checked with bankers who had connections with them, and home inspectors all gave them a thumbs up as one of the best semi-custom builders in the area. We felt we were getting a lot for our money, and we had found a great builder.

By the time we (finally) broke ground on August 31, Hansen and Horn’s BBB rating had already nose-dived to an “F”, and we were already expressing concerns about why they weren’t moving as quickly as they should have. August turned into September, which turned into October, and by the beginning of November — when the house should have been nearing completion — all we had was framing and a whole lot of excuses.

In the meantime, I connected with literally dozens of people — many of whom I expect are reading this now — through this blog. Contractors and other customers of Hansen and Horn found this site and left comments on my posts or emailed me, sharing their troubles and trials with the builder. Some are owed tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for their work. Others, like us, had paid H&H money but had little to show for it. At least one victim had put the entire amount for her home into a (supposed) escrow account, only to find that it had almost all vanished without her house actually getting built. Pick any one of my posts from the last few months and you’ll find comments from all you fellow readers.

In mid November, the story finally started breaking beyond this site; local TV station WISH-TV Channel 8 started sniffing around, and got ahold of me. While I wasn’t ready to comment on the record at the time, I did give David Barras some background on what was going on and indicated that there may be several people who would be willing to speak with him on camera. In their second report, the station showed this site on air. After that, the floodgates opened and the IndyStar and other news outlets started picking up on the problems as well. Two days ago, on December 1, Hansen and Horn’s law firm stopped representing them — because, as the rumors go (and this isn’t a stretch), of lack of payment. That’s the same day I sent our notice of termination.

And then finally, today, they admitted in court what everyone now knows — they’re broke.

Despite being very excited and eager to have this home built, we decided that with all the uncertainty surrounding Hansen and Horn our best move was to cut the cord and walk away, even if it means losing our earnest money (although we are trying to get it back). We don’t want to live in a home built by someone in such a desperate financial state, nor do we have any idea of a timeline on when we might be able to have another builder finish the home. Nor do we know what will happen to that neighborhood when another builder comes in to finish it — it was only about 25% done. There were just too many uncertainties.

Fortunately, we have some good options ahead of us. We may have lost 5 months and our earnest money, but what appears to be a great opportunity to get us the house we want has come our way — thanks to this site, actually, and someone who discovered our story when Googling for information about what was happening to Hansen and Horn. We’re in the early stages still, but if you continue to follow this blog you can be sure to find out more if things pan out! In the long run, it may work out even better than our home with Hansen and Horn. As our supportive friends and family have repeatedly told us throughout this difficult time, things happen for a reason.

I hope the many of you we’ve come to know through these unfortunate circumstances also find a way out of your situation with Hansen and Horn. If you can afford a lawyer, there’s several good real estate attorneys in the area. You should also file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s office. There’s sure to be many battles ahead over whatever scraps remain, but perhaps those who are owed will get something out of all this.

Perhaps the best part of the past couple months have been the handful of people who have emailed me or left comments on the blog that by reading what we’ve been through, we’ve saved them from a lot of potential trouble.

We’ll continue blogging about our experiences with our new builder…but we’re done with Hansen and Horn. It’s disappointing but also very freeing to be out of that situation. Best of luck to everyone else who has been affected by them.

19 comments Post a comment

  1. December 4th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Kelly says:

    Matt & Amanda – We feel so horrible that this has happened to you, but we are sure you will both come out stronger. You have both worked so hard for what you have and your hard will pay off eventully, we know it! Hope to see you over the holidays.

    Love, Kelly and Todd

  2. December 4th, 2009 at 9:32 am

    brokendream says:

    Hi Matt,

    My wife and I were building near your site. I was wondering if there was a way I could get in touch with you? I wanted to look at our options as well. If there is a good affordable custom home builder out there I would love to look into them. We were in the same boat as you and I feel like I was mislead from the start. Its very depressing to see the look and disappointment on the kids and my wife’s face when the topic comes up not to mention the money and time away from my work I have lost. It was our dream house in the dream location. We saw this coming a long time ago but we were just hoping it would all blow over and they would recover (trying to hang on to our dream) I thought maybe you could give me some advice about the entire situation? The funny part of all this is they are still working on our homes while all this is taking place. They never touched our site before all of the bad media. It really does not make a lot of sense.

  3. December 4th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Karma says:

    Matt & Amanda,

    I want to thank you again for your blog, I think you’ve helped a number of potential home buyers from making a regretful decision and I think you gave alot of comfort and guidance to those of us who are going thru the same process. I hope everything works out for you.

    For whatever it’s worth, after we walked away from our potential Hansen and Horn Home, we built a beautiful custom home thru Basey Custom Homes. The owner/builder is Rex Basey and because he only builds a dozen homes a year, you are always number 1 priority. I can’t say enough good things about him. I’m not sure if he still builds up North but it’s definitely worth a phone call. 889-5775

    Thanks again for everything

  4. December 4th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Another victim says:

    Matt, Amanda, and all who are impacted,

    My wife and I were to build with Hansen and Horn over the summer. Thankfully we never made it to the build phase, but like many others we did not see our earnest money ever again. We’ve moved on and, while Matt you probably wouldn’t have picked our builder, we are quite happy with our “box” home :) .

    My main reason for adding to the comments here is to see if anyone else is interested in documenting our stories on a site specifically meant to only contain Hansen and Horn information. This blog will move on to more happy memories, and I think the public would be well served to have all of our stories documented on a site for all to see. Although we all have learned a valuable lesson, there is nothing preventing Hansen and Horn from forming a new company and doing this all over again. Furthermore, some of Hansen and Horn’s actions sound deceitful at best and criminal at worst. I now know that Alan McCormick was lying to my face the whole time, and Hansen and Horn was in dire financial straits long before all of us signed a contract with them. I think a site where our stories can be shared publicly, and our pursuit of restitution can be coordinated privately would be beneficial. We may be able to pool resources and get the answers we deserve.

    It’s only a thought in my head at the moment, but if others are interested I’m all for this. If not, we will continue to move on and wish all of you the best of luck in achieving your homeownership dreams!

  5. December 4th, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Matthew Rogers says:

    ^ I’m so happy that you and your family found a home!

    I think you bring up an excellent idea. I will retain all the Hansen and Horn posts on this blog forever, but I could also set up the dedicated site that you mentioned and open it up for others to post. Let me give that some thought this week about the best way to go about it.

  6. December 4th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Chapel Woods Neighbors says:

    So sorry to hear that you will not be joining us in Chapel Woods but am glad to hear that your nightmare with Hansen and Horn is over. We are starting to wonder how we ever managed to get our home completed!

    It is odd that workers continue to come to these unfinished home sites and do work? They are at your old site completing the roof today?

    We are just hopeful that the developer of Chapel Woods can bring in another quality builder to complete the neighborhood with the same type of quality homes with character that H&H USE to build. We are very nervous that the 5 models they have in this neighborhood will become run down and abandoned (2 already have)! We too spent months researching area semi-custom and custom builders and felt we made a strong decision. We heard nothing but praise for H&H. We thankfully have a solid, completed home, but have no idea about the warranty and follow through? You were right to walk away. You might have gotten some type of completed home through them, but everything else they promised in their “industry leading porch-to-porch promise” would have been gone! It is all so very sad and disappointing. Thank you for telling your story!

    Good Luck! Hopefully you will find an honest builder who values their customers.

  7. December 4th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Laura says:

    Matt and Amanda – I’m so sorry you both had to go through this horrible ordeal, but I know you will get an amazing house soon. Pulling and praying for you!

  8. December 4th, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Mark says:

    Hello Amanda & Matt:

    We’ll, I actually did have a sick feeling in my gut about 6 weeks ago. I suppose this termination brings this ordeal to closure. I’m so sorry that your first home purchase turned out to be a Hanson & Horn nightmare. Hope to see you both soon.

    Love,
    UM

  9. December 4th, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Jeff says:

    Matt and Amanda,

    I hope you guys get the house you deserve. As you know we lost a few thousand dollars with H&H, as well. We were getting a VA loan for our home that was supposed to built on our property in Mooresville. Thankfully, the VA redtape slowed our progress just as much as H&H, so they never touched our property. I’ve never been so happy about bereaucratic oversight.
    Anyway, we have found an existing home that exceeds our every wish, except for location. It’s not on our land; however, the property is not going anywhere. We hope to close in a couple of weeks. Our H&H experience has ruined our desire to build any time soon.
    I want to thank you and Brian for your sites. When my wife and were at our lowest and wondering how we could have made such a horrible decision we found your sites. I know it is probably a minor consolation, but the sites truly helped us by providing us a link with others in the same situation. Discussing our situation with others going through the same thing was therapeutic and assisted us getting through this in ways we wouldn’t have had without the contacts we made through the sites.
    We’ll continue to pray for everyone we’ve talked to and everyone else affected by those horrible people.If I can offer any assistance for the other website idea I’ll be glad to help.

  10. December 5th, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Jim says:

    Has anyone heard whether a prosecutor is looking into bringing criminal charges against Ward and/or Steve Horn?

    The last time I checked, it’s illegal to knowingly accept payment on contract while simultaneously knowing you’ll be unable to perform. I believe the term is FRAUD.

    There’s the doctor’s escrow case, the lies to the contractors, the lies to the customers, the lies to the media. This isn’t simply a case in which a company goes bankrupt. It sounds like bankruptcy should have taken place around last April or May.

    What the Horns did was illegal, in my opinion.

    The reciever should be able to find out exactly what transactions occured over the past year. This story is bound to get more interesting.

  11. December 6th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    theytookmymoney says:

    see Channel 13 broadcast 12/4/09:

    http://www.wthr.com/global/story.asp?s=11620373

  12. December 8th, 2009 at 1:08 am

    they took my money too! says:

    My wife and I are sorry for your loss and we feel your pain. We also have our earnest money with the Horns and we will be standing in line next to you in court. My wife also had a gut feeling about them a few months back… should have listed to woman’s intuition

    Regards,
    klh

  13. December 9th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    honest builder says:

    I feel for everyone who has suffered because of Hansen & Horn and the Bernie Madoff’s running it. Without coming off like a used car salesman, which I am not, I would be more than happy to speak with any of you (maybe over dinner)wanting to build a new home. I can build the home you want or we can research any plan you desire and build anywhere you want. I’m an honest down-to-earth custom builder with great references. I’m small with little to no overhead so you don’t have to worry about me going under. I was featured in a magazine last fall and would be happy to speak or mail info to anyone interested. I certainly hope this experience has not turned some of you off building because it really is fun with the right builder. I’m experienced an passionate about what I do and do work on the home myself. I do not pressure anyone to do anything but think it’s definitely worth a little of your time to at least check me out. Comparatively speaking, I can offer more and better features than H&H for the same or less money. The reason you ask is because of what doomed H&H greed and overhead, which I have neither. I have to make a living but most are surprised at the product I turn out for the money and in most cases the home appraises for more than the cost to build. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with any of you. 317.997.9072

  14. December 11th, 2009 at 7:35 am

    theytookmymoney says:

    Any word on the receivership hearing of 12/10/09?

  15. December 11th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    receiver? says:

    Matthew and Amanda – Best of luck to you with your new builder. I hope you are able to get the home of your dreams. We also put money down for a home with H&H and are now in the process of figuring out what to do next.

    I hate to use your blog to dig for information, but like theytookmymoney in the previous comment, I’d like to find out who the receiver is and haven’t been able to find anything. If anyone has info, please share it!

  16. December 11th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Matthew Rogers says:

    Dig away, that’s what the blog is here for…sharing information!

    Unfortunately I haven’t heard anything either. I will post once I find out though.

  17. December 12th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    A new home from Bedrock Builders | Build a House Blog says:

    [...] ground will be broken on our second attempt at building our first home. Yes, that fast! After a terrible experience with the first builder we chose, we’ve designed a new home with local custom builder Bedrock Builders in a matter of just a [...]

  18. December 13th, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Matthew Rogers says:

    Update: A receive has been named for Hansen and Horn:

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009912120329

    Rick Lux, of the R.P. Lux Co.

  19. December 20th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Bedrock Groundbreaking & Hansen and Horn updates | The Rogers Build a House Blog says:

    [...] and lot. We feel very fortunate that we haven’t had to sacrifice anything because of the situation we went through; quite the [...]

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