We contracted with this builder to build a home a year ago, March 2008.
As is common we set up that the draws so the funds would be wired directly to Mr Ellefsen. It seems that is quite common in this industry, though in hindsight, not very prudent.
Besides the fact that Mr. Ellefsen cut corners at every turn and in direct conflict with our written and verbal contracts [things such as builder grade molding being installed instead of the contracted upgraded 3' trim and 5' base molding, trying to tell us that items were more costly than they were- our cabinets came in at $7000, he tried to say they used the whole allowance of $10,000 even though we had the invoice in our hands giving us the total], his work schedule became very light the last 2 or 3 months to the point that some weeks he would complete maybe one small job then be gone for another week. He never worked on Fridays.
Now that we are at the end of the process, it appears that although having received the funds via wire from the bank, Mr Ellefsen has failed to pay subcontractors for the work they completed as long ago as 6 months. At times he lied to at least one telling them he was waiting for a check from us. We never paid for anything, ALL the money was wired to Mr Ellefsen directly from the bank. That's what mortgages are for.
While we have 4 subcontractors lined up with their hands out for funds that were already disbursed from the bank to Mr Ellefsen, at this point equalling all the funds available at the bank, we also have no idea who or what other subs might be out there and owed money. Mr. Ellefsen refuses to give full disclosure about who he contracted with, who is paid, or who is owed. To quote Mr. Ellefsen "I'm not going to open my checkbook for you to look through".
At this point one sub has placed a lien on our house which means we can not close and most likely can't even get the remaining funds from the bank to pay any of them. Of course Mr. Ellefsen has paid that sub for work on his own 5000sq ft house. Meanwhile we are paying for not only the mortgage on that house but rent for where we will have to continue to live until this is all settled. Sadly the lien laws of NY favor the builders/contractors. They can lien your house without proving what they are owed, IF they are owed, or who actually owes them. That lien sits on your house for a year. They never have to take any action. If that year ends with no resolution, they can renew that lien 2 more times, again with zero proof of anything. They can drag this out and keep you out of your house without ever having to prove a thing.
Even had he not, in effect, stolen money from us by taking those bank funds and not applying them to the work/subs owed, I still could not in good conscience give Ellefsen and Son construction a good reference for the work that has been done in building this house. The woodwork- base and trim molding, cabinet install, etc is worse than my husband does with miters that don't meet square and rough edges, nail holes unplugged and a very poor quality paint job. So many items that were to be included in this home have been left out by Mr. Ellefsen. All the work we and the architect put into it was for naught. Mr. Ellefsen seems to have used the blueprints as merely a suggestion and built the house how he chose.
Beware of this builder and be sure of your rights when building a house. Protect your assets. Handle the money yourselves and pay everyone yourself getting a lien release with every payment. Document work and who did it. Document work that is substandard or not completed to plan. Also note your state builders licensing system. Unfortunately for us we live in NY where there is no builders licensing. Neither is there a builders license in the state of PA out of which Mr. Ellefsen works. Therefore, you have no recourse and no protection short of hiring a pricey attorney after the fact and hoping you can get to the builder before he declares bankruptcy.
Middletown, New York