Customers say problems persist with home builder

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:

Imagine paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home, only to realize it could burn down at any moment.

WINK News first told you about problems with Zwiercan Homes a couple of months ago. Now, customers are saying they are dealing with safety hazards on top of missed deadlines and poor quality of work.

“It’s been really hard. We’ve had to dig deep,” admits Tim Norrell.

It’s been a long road for the Norrell family.

WINK News talked with Tim and his wife Kandi earlier this summer.

At the time, they had hoped to get into their new North Port build from Zwiercan Homes in June, more than 2 and a half years after signing a 12-18-month contract.

They’re actually further away from getting into their home than they were months before.

“They’ve gotten worse. We ended up having to terminate the builder, Zwiercan Homes,” Norrell explains. “We’ve had multiple inspectors and even an engineering company come out and have found major issues.”

The Norrells claim they had problems during the building process: massive delays and poor communication, windows that didn’t fit and walls that were bowing in. Just a few weeks before they were set to move in, still feeling uneasy, they hired multiple independent inspectors to check their home before shelling out their final payment.

“One home inspector we used said he has not seen a new home in this bad of condition in his whole time of doing things,” Norrell laments.

One inspection report details major concerns, noting parts of the roof are sagging, the windows need to be re-installed and the sliding door leading to the pool deck was put on backward.

“You get lifted up and then you basically get kicked in the teeth over and over again,” Norrell said. “You get strung along, told lies on dates…”

But the Norrells aren’t the only family having issues with Zwiercan Homes. Barely 10 miles from the Norrells’ house, the Genlot family is already in their new Zwiercan home build.

Months after they moved in, they found an issue that could have been disastrous, right above their heads.

Everything was working fine in their home, until one day they couldn’t get their bedroom lights to turn on.

Greg Genlot, who has 40 years of experience as a mechanical contractor, crawled into the attic and found a potentially deadly problem.

“I open it up, and that’s when I find the wiring. I find a broken wire,” Genlot describes. “I find there’s no connectors, just wiring stuck into a metal box with no connectors whatsoever.”

Pictures show live wires with no connector equipment attached, rubbing against and close to metal boxes.

“The house is going to catch on fire! And now I’ve got a potential house that I just built that’s going to burn to the ground,” Genlot says, worried about the worst-case scenario.

The Genlots contacted the builder several times, until eventually, Genlot talked with the company’s owner, Jarek Zwiercan, face-to-face.

Genlot says after their in-person talk, Zwiercan set appointments for an electrician to fix the issue. But three separate times, appointments were made and no one ever came.

“At that point I said, three strikes you’re out. I can’t wait any longer,” Genlot says. “I’ve got to resolve this issue.”

So the Genlots paid nearly two thousand dollars out of pocket to get the wiring fixed.

I reached out to Jarek Zwiercan numerous times for this story, but only was able to speak with an assistant. Jarek eventually emailed a statement, which reads:

“Although there have been a number of customers who have complained about price increases, our contracts clearly call for a price adjustment when building costs increase by more than three percent. Because of rapidly increasing labor and material costs over the past 24 months, we have unfortunately had to pass on some of the cost increases to our customers. Likewise, a small number of customers have complained about their home not being built fast enough. While Zwiercan Homes cannot guarantee a specific completion date as is stated in our contract, our completion times have always been well within industry standards even when having to deal with labor and material interruptions due to COVID and a hurricane over the past 24 months. In regard to our completed product, every home that is constructed by Zwiercan Homes meets or exceeds the requirements of all applicable local and state building codes and any defects in workmanship and materials is warranted for one full year … We carefully investigate any time that we receive a complaint concerning workmanship. As a matter of policy, however, we do not ordinarily publicly comment about our interactions with a particular customer.”

The Norrells have hired a lawyer.

They are going through mediation with Zwiercan and say they’re prepared to file a lawsuit. The family feels it’s their only route to getting the house they paid for.

“That’s all we ever wanted, is what we’ve paid for,” Norrell said, frustrated. “That’s it!”

There are currently more than 40 available homes and a dozen available lots listed on the Zwiercan website.

Frustrated customers question how the builder can move forward with new buyers before taking care of the ones who have already paid.

“The man does not stand behind his word. At all!” Genlot insisted. “He’ll tell you something, look at you and lie to your face.”

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