Okanagan home builder facing mounting lawsuits, complaints over alleged unpaid bills

Home builder in hot water

Lawsuits are mounting against an Okanagan custom home company whose leader has reportedly gone silent, leaving locals raising red flags.

Sunterra Custom Homes is owned and operated by Ranbir Nahal, allegedly also known as Ranvir Nahal, and is based in Vernon. The company has previously collected Okanagan Housing Excellence awards, and Nahal himself has sat on the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Central Okanagan as a board director.

But the company and Nahal have recently been hit with multiple court filings from homeowners and businesses spanning from the North Okanagan to Osoyoos, alleging hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid debt and unfinished work.

Neighbours of Sunterra’s business office in Vernon alleged to Castanet that Nahal moved out in December 2023, and said they were told the company would be working remotely.

Since that time, many in business with the company have alleged a similar story — Nahal was charming, then communication dropped off, and promised payments are now in the wind.

Homeowners charmed, then stiffed

Wendy Richmond broke ground on her Osoyoos house in November 2020, and said when she first started talking with Sunterra, she toured multiple houses that Nahal had built.

“We met people who owned the houses, and they were all very friendly with him. They let him take strangers into their house, so he seemed like a stand-up guy,” she said.

Throughout the building process, Richmond said things started to change. She claims that her home is now left with several building deficiencies and unfinished work, even though the full invoiced bills were paid to Sunterra. Apparently, Richmond inferred, Sunterra was not passing on the money to the trades companies.

“Towards the end, we could tell that Sunterra was stealing from Peter to pay Paul because we paid invoices and then months and months later we’re getting calls from the [trades companies] saying this invoice isn't paid and we're gonna put a lien on your house,” she claimed.

Richmond said the last time she spoke with Sunterra or Nahal was on Dec. 20, 2023, to go over the house inspection. Since then, she said, he has not responded to her attempts to contact him, and work has been left unfinished.

“Everybody's kind of digging in and saying ‘Well why would I come back to your worksite to do more work when I haven't been paid for what I've done?’”

Richmond estimates she is now $1M over budget on the home and out at least $75K from money she claims was paid to Nahal, but not paid to the contracted companies.

Castanet viewed a breakdown of the home cost, which appears to show that Richmond paid roughly $2.1M towards her home, plus commission to Sunterra.

Another construction company has also placed a lien on her home, after not seeing payment for their services. Richmond provided the invoices for completing that payment as well, even though the company is still claiming to be owed $11.5K from Sunterra.

“Sunterra keeps sending us cursed gifts from the grave. We are struggling to get even the smallest items completed, as the trades that were stiffed are all quite pissed off and have no one to take it out on.”

Another Osoyoos-area homeowner, Lloyd Lockhart, said he last met with Nahal on Jan. 4, 2024, and then two or three days later, noticed communication was cut off with no return phone calls.

“We have paid him for a lot of the work, for the electrician and plumber and all that and I think a lot of them have not got paid so he's just taken off with the money,” he claimed.

“When people realize that they didn't get paid for something, they get really upset with me and [say] ‘Okay, well, I want my money’ and I go, ‘Well, it wasn't really with me. It was with him and I got bills to show that I've paid him.’”

Lockhart said he has contacted the BC Building Association to report Nahal and is still unsure of how much money has been paid by Sunterra to the other contractors who worked on his home.

Pattern of non-payment

Reagan Wangler, owner and operator of Wangler Electric, said he first got involved with Sunterra in June 2022 about a job.

“We were awarded the contract right off the bat, it seemed good, Nahal is a smooth talker and he’s charismatic,” he said.

However, as time progressed, Wangler claimed communication was difficult and he couldn’t get Sunterra to sign the full contract.

Wangler said he was not getting paid on time, and began billing the customer directly due to what he described as the “headache” of working with Nahal and his team.

A project invoice provided to Castanet appears to show he is still owed 10 per cent of the total cost. The last time Wangler spoke with Nahal and Sunterra was at the end of December, and he said he has not heard from them since.

Krystina Lowther, co-owner of family business Lowther Electrics, claimed her company is owed upwards of $10K by Sunterra.

“At the beginning of the project, things seemed to be pretty good. Communication was good, emails were back and forth. Everything was working out okay. And then as soon as the project started to come kind of towards the close, we sent invoices to Sunterra and were promised that there would be payment,” she said.

“We spoke with the homeowner, the homeowner said that they had made payments to Sunterra for the invoices already,” Lowther said, but as 2023 drew to a close, Sunterra disappeared.

“There was nothing, phone calls went straight to voicemail. There's no email responses, no anything.”

Communication between Lowther and the homeowners viewed by Castanet show them reaching out to settle unpaid bills with Sunterra, to no avail.

“When we started the project with Sunterra, I went onto their website, I went onto their Facebook, I saw the awards, the accolades and everything else from before and so I was like, ‘Okay, well, this is a legitimate business’ … And then it just totally stopped and there was nothing,” Lowther said.

Daniel Cahoon, a contractor in the South Okanagan, claimed he was hired by Sunterra and sent his final invoice for work in August 2023.

“[Nahal] still owes me $7,077 for unpaid work, plus interest,” Cahoon claimed.

“I was getting paid on time and then all of a sudden, the payments started getting less and less than what I invoiced for. And then all of a sudden, he owes me thousands of dollars … I'm not a big company so that hit me really hard. I couldn't afford to pay my employees so I let everybody go.”

Court cases mounting

Since the end of November, there have now been five court cases filed against Ranbir Nahal, Sunterra Custom Homes and his other companies.

The first comes from Rona Inc., who filed in November 2023. They allege that Nahal was provided credit to purchase construction materials, and has since reneged, now owing $34K.

Pro Builders Supply, doing business as Home Hardware Centre Penticton, filed two lawsuits in January against Sunterra Homes Ltd. and Nahal, with one also naming ModTrend Exteriors Ltd, a company Nahal co-owns.

Both lawsuits claim that they provided building materials for Sunterra last year and claim no amount has been paid as of the date of filing, and claim a combined total of more than $44.5K owed.

Pro Builders Supply claims that numerous attempts to contact the company through phone and email have been unsuccessful.

Amber Millworks also filed against Sunterra Custom Homes and Nahal early this year, seeking $20K for allegedly unpaid invoices, and claim that after multiple statements were sent and promises for payment dates passed, communication simply stopped with Nahal and Sunterra’s accounting team.

Image Earthworks is the most recent company to file against Sunterra Homes, Nahal and the homeowner they completed the work for.

The company claims they entered into a contract with Sunterra and the homeowner in November and December 2023, for excavation and construction of a block retaining wall and septic system, and is now seeking roughly $106K in alleged money owed. A lien has been placed on the property in the meantime.

Fires on the home front

Ranbir Nahal is also wrapped up in multiple legal battles with his cousin Harpreet, who shares the Nahal last name. Harpreet has filed suits against Ranbir for alleged unpaid bills and demands that a shared business, Saath Development Corporation, be sold.

Each of them holds 50 per cent shares in Saath, which allegedly owes well over $200K in unpaid bills and taxes.

Harpreet and Ranbir are also registered co-owners of ModTrend Exteriors, which shares the same legal address as Sunterra in Vernon.

A lawsuit filed by Harpreet claims that Saath has the following assets: $94K in a trust account, $238K in shares of another company and office furniture and supplies to sell, and that at this time, Saath is alleged to owe a minimum sum of $230K in outstanding debts, including $127K to the Canada Revenue Agency, $60K for a Canada Emergency Benefit Account loan, broken lease debt and credit card bills.

The lawsuit states the cousins were not on speaking terms at the time of filing, and that Harpreet wants to be paid for Saath shares or ModTrend shares, or have ModTrend liquidated.

Harpreet claims that a sale of his stake in ModTrend to Ranbir was in the works in 2021, orchestrated by Lake City Law Corporation, the law firm owned by Harpreet, which was also apparently the corporate solicitors for Saath and ModTrend at the time.

But those documents were allegedly never finalized, according to Ranbir’s only known court action this year, a countersuit to his cousin’s claims.

Ranbir claims that his company Sunterra loaned ModTrend $100K to cover liabilities in late December 2021, and is still owed $45K at this time, and that Harpreet locked Sunterra and ModTrend from the common office shared with Saath and Lake City Law on June 3, 2022, which created a “complete breakdown” of the partnership, among other grievances.

Harpreet Nahal did not respond to Castanet’s request for comment.

Castanet also made multiple attempts to contact Ranbir Nahal, Sunterra and ModTrend via phone and email. No response was received. The allegations contained in the lawsuits remain unproven in court.

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