VINE GROVE, KY (WAVE) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is taking action after a WAVE 3 Troubleshooter investigation exposed a construction company accused of building shoddy homes near Fort Knox. But we discovered that company is now working to sidestep the restrictions placed on them by the VA so they can keep selling those homes.
Mike Jones Built Homes is still pushing forward with new construction projects despite losing its approval from the VA and getting hit with two different lawsuits from angry customers.
"My son said to me why do all my friends' houses look nice and ours look horrible?" said Mary Kuykendall.
Mary and her husband, Sgt. Gerald Kuykendall, bought a Mike Jones Built Home a year and a half ago. 18 months after they moved in, the Kuykendall's are still fighting the company that built their home. Mary said her husband is embarrassed to bring his friends there.
"More than anything more than it just frustrating," Mary said with tears in her eyes. "It's very painful because your house is a reflection of you and this is not a reflection of us at all."
The Kuykendall's say their $200,000 house is riddled with problems that are both cosmetic and structural. Mike Jones Built Homes has built a number of homes in their Vine Grove subdivision snd sold them to soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Knox.
In February, a WAVE 3 Troubleshooter investigation uncovered at least four military families in the same neighborhood who complained of shoddy workmanship with their Mike Jones Built Homes. The owners said they couldn't get Jones and his partners to fix the problems even though the homes were still under warranty.
"We can't do the things that we wanted to do with the home that you paid this money for," Sgt. Kuykendall said.
That's why both Sgt. Kuykendall and his neighbor, Staff Sgt. Nathan Lease, filed complaints with the Department of Veterans Affairs. After our report aired, the VA sent Jones a letter telling him he had two options: fix the problems or lose the right to sell homes using VA financing. Those loans are something which are virtually essential to selling high end homes in a military community.
Jones agreed to address the issues, and signed off on a list of repairs to both houses. However, those repairs were never finished.
"He had somebody come over here to start to do some work and just stopped and left everything worse that it was," Sgt. Lease said.
So this summer the government pulled Mike Jones Built Homes certification with the VA which prohibits the company from participating in the VA loan guarantee program in Kentucky and surrounding states.
The action from the VA makes it tough for Mike Jones to sell Mike Jones Built Homes in Vine Grove. In January, he was working on a number of new homes in a new development called Paragon Orchards. When I returned in August, I discovered Jones had transferred the properties he was working on at that time to Hardesty Built Homes. That company is owned by Jimmy Hardesty, the same guy who helped Jones build the homes the soldiers are having problems with now.
The VA's letter said the action it took against Mike Jones applies to "all agents, representatives, and correspondents acting on his behalf." But according to an email from the Jeff Thomas with the VA, since Hardesty is not listed as a principal agent of Mike Jones Built Homes, the VA's action does not apply to him. That means Hardesty will be allowed to sell the homes in Paragon Orchards using the VA loan program.
When reached by phone, Hardesty told WAVE 3 his company is now operating independently of Mike Jones Built Homes.
The Kuykendall's and Staff Sgt. Lease have now filed lawsuits against Mike Jones Built Homes and the City of Vine Grove. The suit against the city is because they are upset that the city inspector did not recognize some of the problems before the soldiers bought the homes.
Vine Grove Mayor Blake Proffitt and inspector Melvin Atcher declined comment, as did Mike Jones. All of them cited the pending lawsuits for not discussing what happened.
The military families hope the lawsuits will earn them enough money to finally correct all that they say is wrong with their homes.
Mary Kuykendall said they are just trying to make a life here and they want their homes to be what they dreamed the homes would be. She doesn't think that's too much to ask.
By phone, Jerry Coleman, the attorney for Mike Jones, said his client expects to be vindicated in court. Coleman also claimed Sgt. Kuykendall has been difficult to work with. In fact, shortly after the VA revoked his license, Jones and Hardesty filed criminal charges against Sgt. Kuykendall for harassment and terroristic threatening. Kuykendall admitted calling Jones 42 times in a 12 day span but he said all he was trying to do was get him to return to make the repairs.
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