Work quality issues and extra costs: contractor frustrates families while facing legal battles

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:

Families have complained about poor work quality and enormous cost overages, all before moving into their dream home. One couple is speaking out after building a new house while their contractor battles in court with other customers.

Heather Eichenberg still remembers the joy and butterflies that came at the beginning of her family’s new home build.

“To just start something new and have all this space to play and run around and be a family,” she recounted with a smile. “It was exciting! It was super exciting.”

Paperwork shows they signed a contract for an 18-month build with Zwiercan Homes in May 2021. But 18 months turned into 24 months. Then 30.

“Birthdays happened and years happened, and first steps happened, and daycares happened,” Eichenberg said. “Nothing was happening.”

WINK News has covered Zwiercan Homes and the owner, Jarek Zwiercan, before. Investigative reporter Peter Fleischer has spoken with about 10 families who have had a variety of issues with the company.

From shoddy workmanship to long delays to massive overages right before closing. Every family has a different issue, but all of them have had frustrating experiences.

“I probably would’ve walked away a lot sooner or never signed, knowing what I know now,” Eichenberg admitted.

All the issues from other homeowners sound familiar to Eichenberg. Her family was forced to pay two mortgages for almost a year when her new home was finished 15 months late. They hired an independent inspector before closing and found several quality issues as well.

But the worst part came at closing.

“Oh, by the way, you’ve got an overage,” she recalled as she shook her head. “And your heart just pounds and panics, and you don’t know what that number is going to be.”

Documents show Zwiercan, the owner of the company, demanded 66 thousand dollars in overages. But when the family asked for receipts, work orders, and itemized receipts to show exactly how those charges had racked up, they say the proof didn’t exist.  

“He kept saying, I have it all, I have it all,” Eichenberg explained. “But he didn’t provide it.”

In the end, the family fought to have their overages cut in half. They eventually paid their balance despite confusion about where the costs came from.

“There wasn’t any recourse for poor work or things noticed throughout.”

Legal issues

They’re finally in their house, done with what they describe as a maddening situation.

That’s more than the Norrell family can say. They also built with Zwiercan Homes, but court records show they’ve been locked in a legal dispute with the company since last year, for an amount larger than 100 thousand dollars.

When they spoke with WINK News last summer, they summed up their experience simply:

“You get lifted up, and then you basically get kicked in the teeth over and over again,” Tim Norrell admitted in 2023. “It’s been really hard. We’ve had to dig deep.”

Because of their pending litigation, the Norrells were unable to sit down with me for a new interview. Theirs is one of several ongoing lawsuits with Zwiercan Homes.

Despite the legal issues, the company is still busy in Charlotte and Sarasota counties. Property records show the company has opened at least a half dozen new permits for work in both areas across the last calendar year, and have active older projects too.

The Eichenbergs want prospective customers to know about their experience.

“It doesn’t change that you were wronged, and you can’t go back and change time,” Heather said. “But what you can do is help other people through it.”

WINK News has reached out to Zwiercan Homes several times across the last year to ask about these issues. They have declined to comment.

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