WATCH: Costly nightmare for dozens of B.C. homeowners
Watch: Lessons learned from unhappy homeowners. Randene Neill reports.
A well-known B.C. renovation company is accused of taking more than two million dollars from homeowners and suppliers.
Some of the clients of the now bankrupt company Ecowest paid in full before the work was complete. In some cases, it wasn’t even started.
Bill and Rajinder Davidson have lived in their home for 37 years.
When they decided to pay Ecowest to build them a deck, they used Ecowest’s financing plan through TD bank – a loan of $30,000.
“What I didn’t realize is I was signing a document saying that the work has been completed, and that the bank was going to then release the funds to Ecowest,” says Bill Davidson.
Hidden in the loan application, a single-page document, saying, in effect, that the work was already done, and that the full amount of the funds be forwarded to the dealer, in this case, Ecowest, immediately.
Something that happened to dozens of homeowners.
“I have personally talked to over 30 to 40 homeowners,” says contractor Mitch Selman. “We are talking close to a million dollars of funds that they have collected completely in advance, and not offered any material or any work on these projects to date. I have been in the contracting game for over 25 years, and I have never seen anybody or any company take advantage of people the way these individuals at Ecowest have done.”
Business lawyer Theodore F. Strocel, whose son is one of the victims, says due diligence is key.
“Read it all, and don’t commit yourself to what you don’t know, and don’t trust the people that are putting the document in front of your face, because really it’s there for their protection, not yours,” he says.
Ecowest’s two principals, Aaron Vaughn and Shawn Camp, have not returned phone calls from Global News.
Coquitlam RCMP’s economic crime unit has also launched an investigation.
TD Bank has released the following statement concerning Ecowest:
“Through a number of customer inquiries, TD has been made aware of this unfortunate situation some of our loan customers are facing following the bankruptcy of Ecowest. We have also been made aware of some serious allegations and we are taking these very seriously. We want to reassure our customers that we are taking steps to help them through this situation and ensuring incomplete renovation projects get completed by another home renovation company, where possible.
As such, we’ve reached out to and are working with Homeworks, a network of home renovation dealers in BC, and we will be working with this company to identify solutions for these customers. We understand this is a very difficult and stressful time for many of our customers who have been impacted by the bankruptcy of Ecowest. Our customers can rest assured that TD will be taking steps to do what we can to minimize any negative impact to them.”