December 3rd, 2009
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.