Universal Builders - Basement Renovation Complaint /Universal Builders, Inc. - We hired Universal Builders Inc. to finish our basement, we live in Montgomery County, Maryland. This project was contracted to cost us $52,500.00. We knew this was a large sum of money, but decide

Posted on Wednesday, November 10th, 2004 at 12:00am CST by ea467495

Company: Universal Builders

Category: Building, Construction

Basement Renovation Complaint /Universal Builders, Inc.

Complaint Against:

Wes Souder, Owner (Contractor)

Universal Builders, Inc.

Frederick, MD

We hired Universal Builders Inc. to finish our basement, we live in Montgomery County, Maryland. This project was contracted to cost us $52,500.00. We knew this was a large sum of money, but decided that it was worth the value it would add to our home. We checked out his Contractor to make sure he was licensed, etc... We felt confident that we were going with the right person for the job. He was very friendly and promised us he would build us a dream basement. We didn't want anything average. We wanted to build a very upscale basement with a (3) sided stone fireplace, a large bar are with Maple cabinets, granite counters, wide plank hickory flooring, a large bathroom with granite flooring, a tile walk in shower with a bench, an office, a work out room, a great room, etc.... Our first problems started when the Contractor asked for 42% of the money up front. We knew under Maryland Home Improvement laws that a Contractor is only allowed to take 1/3 of the money up front. we questioned him about it and he said that he was taking 1/3 plus the money needed to buy supplies. He said it was legal to take more than 1/3 if in fact he has to front money for supplies. This is not true. We have found out the hard way that under Maryland law the Contractor can only take 1/3 as a deposit... no questions asked!

We gave him the deposit in the amount of $22,143.00 on June 16th, 2004. the next payment would be $14,200.00 upon completion of the framing, which is the very 1st step in finishing a basement. Everything seemed to be going great. They started work at our house in early July and finished the framing very quickly. we thought that this project would be completed in no time! We gave him the $14,200.00 on July 15th. BIG MISTAKE!

At this point he has $36,343.00 of our money and all we have is some 2x4's! They didn't return to our house to do any work for months. Finally they returned to do some work in September. Now keep in mind that the contracted completion date is October 30, 2004. There were major issues with the plumbing and the electrical work. The Contractor tried to get us to spend approx. an additional $2000.00 for electrical changes. There weren't any changes... just oversights on his part that we were having to pay for. then there were issues with the plumber who was a subcontractor. He did not pay his plumber and therefore the plumber would not get the required permits needed before drywall.

Finally in October they came back to hang the drywall. He asked for his additional payment at that time in the amount of $8500.00. We told him that we would not pay him unless there is more progress with the job. He told us he would have to stop all work until he receives the payment and that we would be breeching the contract... he said the job would be delayed at our expense. So, we gave him his money the same day. At this point he has almost $45,000 of our money... and all we have is drywall. The nightmare only got worse. Everything that was contracted for he had an excuse why we couldn't use it. The wood flooring would meet code so he told us we have to use Pergo, the granite for the bar is going to be "similar" to the Blue Pearl that is contracted for... not Blue Pearl itself, the Maple cabinets we picked out are all of a sudden going to cost us more money, etc... It is never ending. He didn't finish by October 30. No one ever shows up at our house. If anyone shows up at all it is in the afternoon or on Saturday. This guy doesn't have any of his own employees, but refuses to admit it. His dad and a friends son has done some work for him. However, he doesn't pay them legally. He bragged to us about how he pays his dad and his friends son under the table. His father was injured while working for a construction company, so he isn't allowed to be paid by another employer, so Wes pays him under the table. It is just pathetic. Everyday there is another issue.

The work that has been completed has been less than adequate. We extended his completion date to November 6, 2004. That date has come and gone. So today, November 9th, 2004, we gave him an extra 2 weeks out of "good faith". This is only because he has so much of our money and we just want this guy to finish the job according to the contract and get out of our house. We extended the completion date to November 19th, that is the Friday before Thanksgiving. We had told him ages ago that we would be leaving on the 20th to go out of town for a week for Thanksgiving. He said "oh, this job will be completed way before that!". Today, November 9th, 2004, Wes Souder said that they would not complete the job by the 19th. He came and got all of his supplies and tools, & left our house key for us. He has abandoned the job site. Universal Builders has about 88% of our money and only about 40%-50% of the job is complete. It is going to take ages to get the money back from him, and it is going to cost us numerous dollars in legal fees. We can't let him get away with this. If you live in Maryland (or the DC Metro Area) and are considering a home improvement job, we advise you to strongly consider all of this information before hiring Universal Builders Inc out of Frederick, MD. Their work standards and ethics should be questioned by the State of Maryland. Claire - Ladd


5 Comments

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2586fddf, 2011-01-28, 12:54AM CST

We hired The same son of a bitch her in the Buffalo area and are going through the same crap. He now is going by Residential Remodeling Inc. The guy is a true "salesman" in every sense of the word. However; just a huckster of poor skills and lower intellegence.

4308a510, 2011-02-07, 12:58PM CST

As people everywhere know, there are always two sides to every story. Don't always believe what people who "throw stones" say. Wes has done many projects for me and I have been very pleased at his craftsmanship. He is a very talented contractor and we never had a problem. So people who read these "stories", please remember that they are just that. . . STORIES.

f96b6119, 2011-02-07, 01:05PM CST

As everyone knows, there are always two sides to every story. Please don't believe everything that people who "throw stones" write. Wes has done many projects for me and I have been very pleased with his craftsmanship. He is a great contractor. I am not sure where the web-site is to commend someone. Is there only one to bad-mouth defenseless people?

Zoune Z., 2014-02-09, 10:41AM CST

I am a contractor. We did work at the Country Inn and Suites in Ithaca, NY as sub-contractors for Patrick Development, owned by Paul Bliss. Wes Souder was the project manager. He was a crook and a liar. After he BEGGED us to work extra long hours to finish the job - ALL STUFF THAT WAS NOT IN OUR ORIGINAL CONTRACT so the motel could open on time (so THEY would get paid and therefore pay us) because they had a full house booked for a graduation and couldn't open without city inspection and a Certificate of Occupancy. Right after the c.o. was issued I tried to get him to sign the documents so we could get paid, he literally RAN to his truck and took off!!! Then he never returned our calls or emails. He never submitted our work documents. We sent in all bills many times, Paul Bliss never returned our calls either.- the only thing our staff said we would get paid, we submitted our bills many times, nothing. I tried hiring an attorney in the Ithaca area but none could represent us since they were already representing different contractors in the same case who had been left in the same position. This has been like 5 years...and we lost over $13,000.00. Paul Bliss then filed bankruptcy (so he didn't have to pay all of the contractors and kept the money to himself. But I'm sure Wes got paid. ) and opened up another business under another name. Same bullshit will happen. Now it looks like Wes opened up another business in the Buffalo area named Clover Construction. Beware. He will do this to others. He will use sub-contractors and steal from homeowners and repay them with poor workmanship. And to you who told me not to 'throw stones', I got to know him on a personal level. Yes, he is quite the 'salesman' in every sense of the word.I've seen how he 'kissed our ass' to make it look like he accomplished the job by getting the C.O.... but to our expense. Wes is not defenseless. He is a COWARD and a CON-ARTIST!!

Zoune Z., 2014-02-09, 10:47AM CST

Correction: Wes Souder doesn't own Clover Construction, he is just and employee in management.

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