A Nelson couple dreaming of a future in a tiny home are instead looking down a large financial hole after the company they bought the house off took their money – but failed to deliver the home.
PopUp Homes advertises on regional Facebook pages around the country, and it was a poster for a cancelled order – ready to ship locally – that piqued the interest of Dale and Nicole Cooley.
For $30,000 the couple could have a ready-to-go crib, shipped and placed on their land at Cape Foulwind on the West Coast.
“A big part of it was what we could afford,” said Nicole.
“We’re not down there all the time and we were going to AirBnb it to recoup some of the money.”
PopUp Homes advertises that it has delivered 99 houses across New Zealand. Its showroom is in Tokoroa, where owner Richard Hadlow lives.
Hadlow was in constant contact with the Cooleys – right up until the moment they paid for the house.
“We were requesting updates and not hearing from him. The alarm bells started to sound at that stage,” said Nicole.
The pair have spent weeks asking where their house is, but calls, texts, emails and lawyers letters go largely ignored.
“I was ringing him and he wasn’t answering … I was working with a friend and asked if I could borrow his phone. [I] dialled the number and he answered it straight away. [He] got quite a shock that I was on the end of the phone,” said Dale.
But even then, Hadlow wouldn’t provide any details of the vessel or container their tiny home is supposedly being transported on, claiming he didn’t know what boat the goods had been assigned to.
Eventually, Nicole and Dale asked for their money back.
“We said if you can’t produce the shipping details of our home, that we’ve fully paid for, then we want the money refunded. And he’s taken that, and twisted it to make it that we’ve cancelled the order.”
Hadlow wouldn’t speak to Fair Go when visited at home, nor would he reveal anything about where the house – or the Cooley’s money – was.
He did tell Fair Go he would answer questions in writing – but he didn’t.
Instead, after three weeks of sending emails, texts and phone calls requesting comment, PopUp Homes responded with a short statement to say it was in negotiations with the Cooley’s lawyer.
The Cooleys say that’s not true – and they just want their money … or their house.