Homeowners angry after they say Southwest Florida builder leaves them high and dry

Complaints are rolling in to the state against Southwest Florida builder HD Custom Homes.

The Attorney General’s office is in the process of reviewing 25 complaints and just last week, Charlotte County revoked one of the owner’s permitting privileges.

We spoke with angry homeowners who say they were left high and dry after the business closed up shop.

Phil Jeleniewski bought a lot in South Gulf Cove in 2001. He dreamed of moving to Florida from Chicago and building a house there.

But he says that dream came to a screeching halt when he hired HD Custom Homes.

“We got an empty lot with empty promises,” Jeleniewski said.

Jeleniewski says he paid $10,000 to HD just to learn that co-owners Matthew Harden and Stephen Dukes would go out of business.

Another homeowner says Dukes personally delivered that message to him.

“He just basically said we don’t have the money to finish and you’re on your own,” said Fred Marcussen.

Marcussen says HD built his home but didn’t finish the fencing, boat deck and hurricane shutters. He says he now has to pay a second company to finish the work.

“You really have to do your homework way up front on the reputation of the builder they’re standing with the county any complaints against them you got to do all that before you sign the dotted line,” Marcussen said.

Jeleniewski added, “As a Vietnam veteran who fought for this country, I put guys in body bags that fought and died to allow people like Stephen Dukes and this other moron to go out and rip people off and get away with it.”

Charlotte County’s Construction Industry Licening Board revoked Harden’s permitting privileges in the county. And last week Harden agreed to give up his contracting license without admitting he did anything wrong. The state licensing board still needs to approve that agreement.

Jeleniewski says he will continue to fight against HD Custom Homes.

“I’m waiting for the day when I see both of you locked up in the jail,” Phil said.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office confirms it has received 38 reports about HD Custom Homes.

WINK News made several attempts to talk with Harden and Dukes, both by phone and at their homes, but neither responded.

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