SARASOTA, Fla. -- Some families are raising concerns about the thousands of dollars they had invested into homes. This after a company filed for bankruptcy this month.
Court documents show Elk Ridge Custom Homes, LLC petitioned for bankruptcy in December and that notices were sent to dozens of entities and people, including in North Port and Port Charlotte.
"My husband and I, we were in the military, it's not like we made a lot of money. We were very good with saving money," said Gwen Lamuro.
She and Joel Rodriguez said they planned to move across the country to retire in Port Charlotte. They said they purchased a lot and started working with Elk Ridge Custom Homes.
"He was producing and finishing homes and that's why we went with him," said Lamuro.
They said so far, they had put in more than $30,000, but construction still wasn't started and they started sensing something wasn't right. Now, they're learning of the filing.
"My stomach just turned," said Rodriguez. "It was like a relief, OK now I know something was up."
"Now not only we're out $34,000, but we have to pay the draftsmen, we have to pay the surveyors, they have to get paid," said Lamuro.
They're not sure whether they will be able to recoup any of it but Lamuro said the company gave release to the draftsman and filed bankruptcy immediately which could help them move things forward.
Attorney Alan Tannenbaum said some of those impacted have reached out to him, including people in Charlotte County and North Port. He estimates there could be dozens of homeowners impacted.
"Not surprised," Tannenbaum said about learning of the filing. "Again, this is the fourth contractor in North Port and the Charlotte County area that was in distress. Three of them I believe have gone bankrupt. There'll be more. The problem is the sales go quicker than the companies are able to fulfill."
Tannenbaum said after going through the bankruptcy process, the Florida Homeowner's Construction Recovery Fund could offer some relief, but comes with challenges since it is limited to $500,00 for any particular builder.
"So when you have a mass default, it's really a rush to the state in Tallahassee to be first in line with your claim," he said.
Tannenbaum recommends before building, it is a good idea to hire a construction consultant, have a lawyer review the contract and include provisions that protect you and vet contractors.
Lamuro and Rodriguez felt like they did their due diligence. but recommend others do their research and homework.
"Everything was so exciting and now our dreams just kind of went down the tubes," said Rodriguez.
They still plan to retire and build their retirement home, but say their plans are now delayed and more costly.