House fire, then botched construction project -- Paola family calls out Buildzoom and Entrepreneurs Enterprises
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - “He literally saw our desperation and how badly we wanted to go home and he just started drooling. It’s how I feel like it’s just it’s sick,” said Mike Thoden.
Mike Thoden is furious with contractor, Maximillian Howell who owns numerous companies including EE DevCo and Entrepreneurs Enterprises.
Thoden used a nationwide company called “Buildzoom” to find a trusted contractor. He says he believed that would provide some protection
“So, I paid them $1,750 for their premium services. And they brought Max to me and the rest is history, I guess,” said Thoden.
The project was supposed to wrap up in July, the Paola, Kansas home is not inhabitable. Thoden describes his family as “homeless.” He’s currently bunking in with family because the insurance payments to cover his apartment ran out.
There are no working bathrooms, a sewer pipe sticks up out of the ground and isn’t connected to the main sewage pipe.
“That pipe should be connected to something, but we have a ceiling already,” Thoden said.
The problems continue from room to room. The sump pump has a plastic hose running out an open window.
The day KCTV5 met with Mike Thoden, contractor Maximillian Howell was supposed to meet in person. He called to cancel.
Thoden confronted Howell about subcontractors refusing to work because they haven’t been paid. Howell denied the claims, became angry and eventually cussed the homeowner out dropped the f word 26 times. He was unaware KCTV5 was present for the phone call.
It took place in Thoden’s utility room where copper wires hang out of the electrical box like spaghetti.
Thoden questions how Buildzoom could connect him to a contractor with such a troubled background.
Who is Maximillian Howell?
Maximillian Howell has been the previous focus of a KCTV5 news investigation.
We discovered Howell owns 10 businesses between Missouri and Kansas. Most have been sued. We found more than 60 lawsuits and liens filed in Missouri and Kansas Courts.
These include the following companies: MSS Construction and Roofing; Entrepreneurs Enterprises; EE DevCo; Madison Housing Partners; Madison Housing LLC; and Woodland Views KC Housing Partners LLC.
Howell is being sued by a Kansas City family who hired his company, EE DevCo, to build a new home.
The family has filed 10 counts against builder Maximillian Howell packed full of accusations.
The Evans lawsuit claims Howell made “false promises, misrepresentations and engaged in fraudulent conduct that prematurely depleted the construction loan.”
The family also accuses Maximillian Howell of switching the locks on their home, removing uninstalled plumbing fixtures from the construction site, and running an electrical extension cord from their house to a neighboring project.
The next-door neighbor had his home constructed by a company owned by Maximillian Howell.
We questioned if that homeowner had a better experience.
“Working with Max Howell was the worst experience of my life,” declared the homeowner.
He says even though he closed on the house several subcontractors have not been paid.
The homeowner even provided a video of one subcontractor showing up looking for Max Howell claiming Howell owes him $50,000.
Another subtractor recently filed a lien against the homeowner.
Maximillian Howell’s response
Maximillian Howell promised to finish the Paola project and wrote KCTV5 an email declaring, “All subcontractors have been paid or are in the process of being paid.”
Several subcontractors tell a different story of missed meetings, a bounced check and empty promises of payments.
One subcontractor eventually received one thousand dollars through the Venmo cash app but is still owed thousands of dollars.
Howell also blamed the pandemic and supply-chain issues for the delays.
“Please find one homeowner in America that had a pleasant experience building a home in the heart of a PANDEMIC. Americans were dying at an alarming rate due to Covid 19. The world was shutdown. Every single builder and GC in America dealt with lumber and material price increases, severe delays in construction, sub-contractor shortages, and supply chain disruption that made the process very formidable for everyone in the construction industry,” Howell wrote.
We waited weeks as the homeowner allowed Howell to work on the project explaining the insurance company already paid Entrepreneurs Enterprises money.
Subcontractors report more delays and say they can’t afford to finish the project unless they are paid in full when it comes to future work.
They explain they want to help Mike Thoden and his family, but they no longer trust Maximillian Howell.
Zoombuild and Entrepreneurs Enterprises
Mike Thoden eventually received a refund from Zoombuild. In fact, they compensated him even more than he originally paid the company to find a trusted contractor.
KCTV5 contacted Zoom build several times questioning how Entrepreneurs Enterprises could still be listed on their search engine and score that business at “100.”
We also questioned what kind of background checks they perform considering what we easily found in Missouri and Kansas court records.
The only response we received was this:
Thank you for reaching out! I will forward this to the correct department. They will reach out to you if there is any interest.
If you have any questions, please let me know and I’m happy to help.
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