Cape builder closes, leaving client money in limbo

CAPE CORAL, Fla. A sign that says they’re closed is all that greets people in front of Southern Premier Homes.

The Cape Coral-based company abruptly shut down Monday due to “unseen circumstances,” leaving clients who paid thousands for their dream home in the dark.

Lisa and Randy Johnson lost $50,000 and have been trying to track down the owner since the company’s closure.

“I was furious,” Lisa Johnson said. “We were literally at the bank closing on a loan to proceed with this project when we got word.”

The couple met two weeks ago with Chris Cheney, custom builder and owner of Southern Premier Homes. He took their deposit at the time, which totaled $15,000. When they received word Monday about the closure, they tried to get a hold of the owner.

“I went back to his office, knocked on the door again,” Lisa Johnson said. “He did not answer. Blinds were closed and the door was locked and he was still in there.”

Deb Emke and her husband also lost $15,000.

“We had a meeting to go over everything to purchase items for our home,” she said.

The company’s prices were alarmingly low, said Matt Sinclair, president of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association.

“If the deal seems to good too be true. it’s too good to be true,” he said. “The prices he was selling homes for are literally impossible to build for.”

Cheney, who also owns Southern Premier Realty, was a member of the association until his membership lapsed in April, according to Sinclair.
“If you paid Cheney, you may want to contact law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Cheney left 11 unfinished jobs in Cape Coral, city officials said, but it’s unclear how many jobs were abandoned outside the city.

Clients of his can try to get a refund by visiting¬†¬†and clicking under “Recovery Fund.”

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan