Hall of Shame: Bamboozling builders busted
(WJBK) - The owners of an Oakland County construction company claim they did two million dollars in business last year. If you look at their website, you might think they're big-time licensed builders, but Problem Solver Rob Wolchek says they're big time bamboozlers.
In reality, the company consists of two guys. They admit they have no employees. No licenses. But they do have a nifty way of fooling their customers.
Chris: "Yeah I got felonies."
And his partner Justin...
Rob Wolchek: "I'm not even talking to you."
Justin: "Well I'm f****** talking to you."
Two guys who have an interesting way of running their construction company.
Rob, "Are you licensed?"
And if you don't like their work, you might get cussed out.
"He said you can **** my **** all day long, the elevation is right," said Toni, a customer.
There are lots of questions in this story and some weird answers.
Rob: "This is so stupid. Why would you not get a license unless you can't get one?"
Chris: "I guess it would be laziness, OK?"
Tony and his girlfriend Toni have been living in an unfinished basement of what is supposed to be their retirement dream house. The nightmare started when they hired JD Hudson construction of Waterford for a $168,000 remodeling project.
"We went and pulled the permits. He told us it would be cheaper if we did that," Tony said.
They say company co-owner Justin Hudson told them he had plenty of man-power -- a 30-man crew, Toni said. But the couple says no employee from JD Hudson has ever lifted a hammer at the house. It's all been sub-contracted out.
Tony isn't a rich guy. He's a Vietnam veteran, who is 70 years old and is still working full time. He's given Justin and his partner Chris Debruycker $140,000 of his life savings so far and the job's not nearly done because JD Hudson demands more money. And they sure aren't friendly about it.
"His aggressive attitude is way off the charts," Tony said.
Another JD Hudson customer, who spoke to FOX 2 anonymously, says the same thing happened to him, saying he was told things like: "Listen man, I really need this money. I got four kids. Where the f is the money," he said.
He hired Hudson for remodeling. The finished work is a door they put in that doesn't close, a light switch that's not even in the wall, ceiling lights without covers and drywall cutouts leaving big gaps around the switches. A gap between the roof and chimney was supposed to be repaired, and even says so right on the contract. So the customer held out the final payment. But JD Hudson had a trick up their sleeve.
"They had a ladder on the side of the house what I thought was to go up and put the flashing on the roof. I gave him the check for a thousand dollars and I went back to work," the customer said.
They cashed the check and didn't do the work.
Tom hired JD Hudson to build a deck and garage. He says Justin told him had a big company, again, including a 30-man crew.
"He did everything himself. He did his own concrete. He had all his own equipment. And when it was all said and done he didn't have any equipment," Tom said.
Tom says what Justin said would be a 3-week job turned into a three-month job and they were always arguing about money. When Tom demanded to see Justin's contractor's license, he gave Justin's dad's license. So if Justin and Chris don't have a licenses, how does the company get permits for these jobs that require licensed builders?
Isabel hired JD Hudson to do her deck, and they told her to pull the permit.
"That we get the permit because they're more likely to give it to you sooner and that it would be cheaper," she said she was told by JD Hudson.
If you're the homeowner, you can pull the permit -- if you're taking on the job yourself. But Isabel hired JD Hudson to do her deck. It wouldn't pass inspection but JD Hudson wasn't on the hook, Isabel was because she pulled the permit. Which, by the way, she says, didn't save her a dime.
Tony says JD Hudson talked him into pulling his permit as well. So there's no licensed builder registered with the city on the gigantic job.
"I don't want to cry on camera. I'm OK, he'll get his," Toni said.
Yes, he will.
Rob: "Are you licensed?"
Justin: "No, it was always through another license.
Rob: "So don't you say on your website that you're licensed."
Justin: "It was through my dad's license, forever and always."
Rob: "So you're doing work on that Tony and Toni's house under your dad's license?"
Justin: "I was, yes."
Yep. Justin's throwing his old man under the bus. Justin says he's the salesperson for the jobs. Bad news Justin-- you need a license for that as well. He acts like he's never even heard of that.
Rob: "So you don't have a builder's salesperson license either do you?"
Justin: "A builder's license?"
Rob: "A salesperson's. A builder's salesperson license."
Justin: "No I do not."
Toni and Tony said they gave Justin $30,000 for siding.
Justin, "The siding, the trim, and everything is one. Painted and installed."
Hmmm, I sure don't see it. And on another customer's house:
Rob: "You were supposed to flash the chimney. You never did that."
Justin, "No that's not. I did not flash the chimney. Of course because that wasn't needed to be flashed, he was going to get the roof done. There's two sides to every story. I've never taken anybody's money. I've never done anything wrong to any client, any customer whatsoever."
Chris, Justin's partner, demands to speak with me as well. Remember, what Toni said Chris told her when she complained about the elevation of the garage?
Rob, "Did you tell that lady Toni that she could suck your ****?"
Chris: "Absolutely not."
OK, so he denies that. But doesn't deny this.
Rob: "Why are you running a construction company without having a license?"
Chris: "Because we're able to do the work."
Both Chris and Justin claim their customers know they're unlicensed.
Rob: "You said, 'I'm unlicensed?'"
Justin: "Oh yeah. They knew from the jump that we were unlicensed."
Well, your website says otherwise, and so does this undercover video we shot of Justin making a sales pitch a couple of weeks ago.
FOX 2 undercover: "And you guys have all the licenses you need and permits?"
Justin: "Insurance and everything, oh yeah. Yep."
And here comes the move to bamboozle the customer into pulling his own permit.
FOX 2 undercover: "Permits?"
Justin: "You know I wouldn't even pull a permit here. If you want to pull a permit, I would suggest just for budget purposes, you just go ahead and pull it under homeowner."
JD Hudson, a construction company run by this guy...
Rob: "Why don't you get a contractor's license?"
Chris: "I don't need one."
And the guy who hands out his dad's license when push comes to shove.
Rob: "So if Toni and Tony decide to sue, who are they going to sue? Are they going to sue you or your dad?"
Justin: "They can't sue my dad. He has nothing to do with it."
Rob: "Well who's the contractor?"
Rob: "And you got paid so who's the licensed contractor on the job?"
Justin, "There isn't a licensed contractor on the job. I did the job."
Chris Debruycker was convicted 15 years ago as a habitual felon. Most of his many convictions are drug and alcohol related. Rob did speak with Justin's dad. He says he did allow Justin to use his builder's license on Tom's garage job. However, Tom says Justin's father never did any work on his job. James Hudson said he absolutely had nothing to do with Toni and Tony's job or any of the other jobs in the story.
JD Hudson? More like JD hustlin'. You're in the Hall of Shame.