Local families left hanging after hired contractor suddenly files for bankruptcy

Several local families are about to lose thousands of dollars to one contractor.

Shane Solomon, Hugh Lyon and Evan Wahlman paid Thomas Weems and his business, Elite Custom Homes and Construction in Puyallup, to remodel their homes.

Now Weems and his business are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy — a total liquidation of assets — potentially leaving his customers short of nearly a million dollars after doing little or no work on their homes.

“I mean, he definitely shouldn’t be able to walk away,” Wahlman said.

Yet Weems seemingly has done just that and started a completely new construction company, Warrior Construction Services.

“I don’t know how he got this license in the first place after what he’s going through, trying to file bankruptcy,” Lyon said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

This would seem to be the case, especially following Weem posting on Facebook about a trip to Miami. In it, he says he dined at swanky restaurants where steaks cost up to a thousand dollars.

He got bottle service at the Clevelander Hotel — ranging from $225 to $800 each.

He played golf at Doral — that’s almost $400 a round.

He posted about it on May 30. On June 1, Weems decided to close Elite Custom Homes and Construction — just two days after telling everyone about his Miami adventure.

A few weeks later, he kept eating well in the Puget Sound at El Gaucho.

Three days later he filed for bankruptcy.

“I believe that he is insanely financially irresponsible,” Solomon said.

Now at least five former customers are filing complaints in federal court challenging his bankruptcy. In court documents, Solomon says he paid $103,000 and Weems provided no services and did no work.

KIRO 7 called and texted Weems — he told us to talk to his lawyer. When the lawyer didn’t respond, we stopped by Weems’ house looking for answers. He didn’t answer or respond.

Randy Littlefield runs Labor and Industries’ bankruptcy unit. He said if a contractor has no violations with L&I, has paid their workers comp bills and doesn’t have any court judgments, the agency can’t stop them from getting licensed.

And court cases filed declaring bankruptcy don’t count.

Weems’ new and old businesses are supposed to be separate, but on the website for his new business Warrior, there are parts that are clearly from his old company, Elite.

As a result of our investigation, Rep. Tina Orwall from Des Moines says she will write legislation to better protect consumers when it comes to bankruptcies and low contractor bonds.

In this case, all of the former customers would have to split the bond of $12,000.

“It’s going to be a big lift. We’re going to get some pushback,” Orwall said. “But I do think at the end of the day, we have no balance in our system. The protections just aren’t there.

“I think it’s more than bad business. It’s bad business and then plus.”

As for those who have done business with Weems, the pain goes much deeper than the wallet.

“It’s crazy. And it’s hurtful,” said Lyon. “It’s going to hurt more people.”

“I don’t care if he has to pay me a dollar out of every paycheck for the next hundred years like I will do, I will exhaust every effort,” Solomon said.