Local couple left hanging with $150K in costs after tiny home debacle

Featured image for Local couple left hanging with $150K in costs after tiny home debacle

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

FISHERVILLE—Chelsea and Aaron Hughes thought they had a great solution to the rising cost of housing: commissioning a tiny home to be placed on Chelsea’s parent’s property in Fisherville. Now, well over a year after putting down a deposit, the couple have been left with only a massive pile of debt and a whole lot of frustration.

“Both of us were attracted to the idea of having lower expenses so that we could live a life that’s a bit more financially free. A lot of people are house poor. The idea of having a more affordable house was so we can travel and enjoy other things,” said Chelsea.

As tiny homes are a relatively new concept, finding the right builder proved challenging, but they eventually landed on the doorstep of Little Creek Homes (LCH), a now-defunct Mississauga- based company.

Advertisement

In initial conversations with LCH owner Philip Bradley, the couple said “he was able to reassure us and made us feel like he could help us get what we wanted” as he provided an enticing proposal and photos of homes he previously built.

“Things started off really well initially. We sent our deposit, he started the building process, and then it was our job to go work on getting permits through Haldimand County,” recalled Chelsea.

She continued, “There were a lot of requirements on Phil’s end to provide us with information so the County could confirm that the home is built to code and it’s placement on the property is within the property lines where it needs to be.”

The process seemed to be going smoothly, until the couple asked Bradley to send a home inspection report to the County for final approval. Bradley said an inspector named Sean from the City of Missisauga had completed the inspection and sent the reports to Haldimand, but no such reports were received by the County. The couple called the City of Mississauga to inquire about the reports and “came to find out that no one named Sean worked there as an inspector, and also no inspections had ever been done in that facility.”

The Hughes then attempted to retrieve the reports directly from Bradley, but “he just started disappearing. He would make an appointment with us and not show up, or schedule something and then cancel at the last minute, claiming an emergency.”

Chelsea and Aaron Hughes

The Press contacted Bradley, who said that “Chelsea and Aaron are a lovely couple…. We had a very good working relationship, including navigating the ‘odd’ and often unresponsive inspector situation in their region and the seemingly ever-changing municipal requirements.”

He maintained that the reports were sent to Haldimand by a Mississauga City department: “From memory I believe all the inspections had been completed and passed except for the occupancy permit, and I think the electrical permit was also still open.”

We reached out to the City of Mississauga, which said: “The City of Mississauga is not authorized or required to perform building permit inspections for structures that are not installed on a property located in Mississauga.”

Bradley claimed he could not produce the reports any more, having lost access to them due to the audit process of LCH’s bankruptcy.

Consumer complaints with the Better Business Bureau filed online, however, confirm that the Hughes are not the only couple disappointed with Bradley’s service. One customer claimed that Bradley “ghosted him,” while another claimed that following a $60,000 down payment LCH failed to deliver the home by its expected date.

Bradley is also known to police for charges unrelated to his business. In October 2010, he contacted Halton Police claiming he found a potential explosive device outside his home. Police later executed a search warrant on his home and seized two additional incendiary devices. He was charged with three counts of possession of an explosive substance and public mischief.

Bradley requested final payment for the Hughes’ home in 2022, which was due on completion of the build. However, the couple decided last July to first visit LCH’s facility: “We came in and looked at the house and took photos. It wasn’t finished – it didn’t have a kitchen, any siding, there were lots of unfinished bits,” said Chelsea.

Bradley countered this, stating, “Their home was finished (some siding was still on back order), and a certificate of completion was issued May 9, 2022…. After three months of requesting final payment and their house sitting in the workshop taking up building space, a termination of agreement letter was sent.”

Further complicating things, the couple claims that the day after their visit there was a fire in the warehouse, which they only found out about as they found the owners of the damaged unit being built next to theirs on social media: “That’s where all communication with (Bradley) went radio silent.”

Bradley said the Hughes’ home sustained some damage in the fire and asserts that LCH was “crushed into extinction” due to the delay in insurance payouts.

“We went from a profitable fast-growing business to being dead in the water,” said Bradley, noting that Chelsea and Aaron are listed among its debtors in the bankruptcy filing.

Now approaching a year later, the couple has no home and a lawsuit against Bradley, along with a massive debt to manage the monies paid to Bradley, the County, and for a foundation they had already poured: “It’s been financially devastating. At this point we’ve put out $154,000…. It’s been crazy and that money is likely not coming back to us,” said Chelsea. Left paying the debt on a house they will never live in, the Hughes have resorted to moving in with Chelsea’s parents for now: “We’ve used up all of our savings, and now we owe $130,000 in high-interest loans…. Our only real option we have based on what we can spend in the future will be to move out to the east coast and buy a home that’s cheap out there.”

Their lawsuit asserts that Bradley committed fraud, which the couple believes they can prove: “The photos he sent us before we agreed to the contract were not houses he built.… He just claimed they were his, so the initial purchase was made under false pretenses.”

Aaron said another developer confirmed the photos were of his projects, and that Bradley had visited his business “one time and took some pictures” but had no hand in the builds.

Bradley countered the fraud claims: “I don’t think we showed any pictures before starting to design with the architect. I’ve been building homes for over two decades and have never misrepresented my work.”

Despite the purported evidence, however, Chelsea and Aaron are not optimistic about their case, “Even if a judgement is made on him, we have to prove he has assets and we can maybe garnish wages if it’s proven criminally, however the way the court system works … all they can do is ask him to pay you.”

Bradley agrees the couple are due for a refund, asserting they will receive it “in the next few months as the auditors finish their work,” but provided no further details.

The Hughes concluded, “This experience has completely diminished our ability to trust people we do business with.”