Local home remodeler abruptly closes, leaving clients and subcontractors in limbo

fabling built office

Fabling Built’s office at 3823 Gaskins Road has been largely emptied out. (BizSense file photo)

The abrupt closure of a local home remodeling firm has left clients and subcontractors searching for answers – and wondering what will become of their money. 

Henrico-based Fabling Built ceased operations earlier this month, according to an email the company sent to clients obtained by BizSense.

Run by married couple Casey and Adrienne Fabling, the roughly 7-year-old firm offered residential construction services, including kitchen, bedroom, basement and attic additions and remodels, per its website. 

The March 15 email, signed by Casey Fabling, stated that the company was immediately shutting down. 

“Due to financial difficulties, we have made the difficult decision to close our business,” Fabling stated in the email. The letter did not provide detail regarding those difficulties.

The letter also laid out steps on how clients could potentially transfer building permits to another contractor in an effort to keep their renovations going. 

“We understand that your home is under renovation and want to assure you that we will do everything in our power to make sure your project is completed. You have our commitment to this,” Fabling said.

The Fablings did not respond to calls and emails sent seeking comment by press time. 

The company’s office at 3823 Gaskins Road had been largely emptied as of Tuesday afternoon, with neighbors saying the company began moving out this month.

FablingBuilt

Casey (left) and Adrienne Fabling

In the days after the email was sent, some clients promptly sought legal recourse.  Between March 17 and 20, four individuals filed warrants in debt against Fabling in Henrico County General District Court, claiming that they were owed money due to a contract being violated. 

One Fabling client, who asked to remain anonymous, told BizSense they engaged Fabling last summer for a home addition and signed a contract in the fall. Over six months and after paying Fabling close to $50,000, the client said they never received a timeline on when construction on their project would begin. 

“My project never started. Nobody (at Fabling) would ever give me any sort of timeline,” the client said. 

One of the warrants in debt on file with the court showed claims a client is owed $24,000.

For Oscar Torres, owner of Manakin-based hardscaping firm Lone Star Masonry who’d worked as a subcontractor on Fabling projects, cracks in Fabling Built’s business began showing last year.

Torres said he’d done a handful of projects for Fabling beginning in late 2021 but claims that last summer Fabling stopped paying Lone Star’s invoices. 

When that happened, Torres said he decided he’d wrap up work on his remaining projects with Fabling Built and stopped working with the firm after that. 

“I didn’t want to leave him stranded because I knew he had projects pending. We did our last projects in December (2022), and now he still owes us $160,000,” Torres said. 

“We wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and help him grow. We had some capital to throw at projects and I expected this money to come back, but it never did.…I wish we didn’t help him out,” Torres said. 

At least one other local contractor is picking up jobs from Fabling Built’s sudden closure by trying to finish jobs for some of Fabling’s clients.

Kwan Wongvian, whose Henrico-based firm Coastal Contracting offers similar services, said her company has already picked up the contracts of nearly 10 of Fabling’s projects for things like kitchen renovations and attic finishes. She said they range in cost from $10,000 to over $300,000. 

“They’re all residential and very large,” Wongvian said. “And they’re continuing to come in.”

Wongvian said over the 20-plus years she’s been contracting in the Richmond region, she’s built connections with plenty of subcontractors and clients, so when word of Fabling Built’s closure began to spread about two weeks ago, her email inbox began to fill with folks looking for help. 

“I just thought the clients needed help,” Wongvian said. “There’s some that can’t sleep at night.”

Coastal has also hired one of Fabling Built’s former salespeople, Wongvian said. It’s unclear how many full-time employees Fabling had at the time of its closure. 

As the fight for funds continues, the anonymous client said they’re worried Fabling may file for bankruptcy, making it even more difficult for clients to claw back their money. 

“I’m anticipating seeing none of my money back,” the source said. “(Fabling filing bankruptcy) is absolutely what I’m anticipating.”

There were no bankruptcy court filings involving Fabling Built as of Tuesday afternoon, according to online court records.

The first warrant in debt hearing against Fabling Built is scheduled for a court hearing on April 14.

fabling built office

Fabling Built’s office at 3823 Gaskins Road has been largely emptied out. (BizSense file photo)

The abrupt closure of a local home remodeling firm has left clients and subcontractors searching for answers – and wondering what will become of their money. 

Henrico-based Fabling Built ceased operations earlier this month, according to an email the company sent to clients obtained by BizSense.

Run by married couple Casey and Adrienne Fabling, the roughly 7-year-old firm offered residential construction services, including kitchen, bedroom, basement and attic additions and remodels, per its website. 

The March 15 email, signed by Casey Fabling, stated that the company was immediately shutting down. 

“Due to financial difficulties, we have made the difficult decision to close our business,” Fabling stated in the email. The letter did not provide detail regarding those difficulties.

The letter also laid out steps on how clients could potentially transfer building permits to another contractor in an effort to keep their renovations going. 

“We understand that your home is under renovation and want to assure you that we will do everything in our power to make sure your project is completed. You have our commitment to this,” Fabling said.

The Fablings did not respond to calls and emails sent seeking comment by press time. 

The company’s office at 3823 Gaskins Road had been largely emptied as of Tuesday afternoon, with neighbors saying the company began moving out this month.

FablingBuilt

Casey (left) and Adrienne Fabling

In the days after the email was sent, some clients promptly sought legal recourse.  Between March 17 and 20, four individuals filed warrants in debt against Fabling in Henrico County General District Court, claiming that they were owed money due to a contract being violated. 

One Fabling client, who asked to remain anonymous, told BizSense they engaged Fabling last summer for a home addition and signed a contract in the fall. Over six months and after paying Fabling close to $50,000, the client said they never received a timeline on when construction on their project would begin. 

“My project never started. Nobody (at Fabling) would ever give me any sort of timeline,” the client said. 

One of the warrants in debt on file with the court showed claims a client is owed $24,000.

For Oscar Torres, owner of Manakin-based hardscaping firm Lone Star Masonry who’d worked as a subcontractor on Fabling projects, cracks in Fabling Built’s business began showing last year.

Torres said he’d done a handful of projects for Fabling beginning in late 2021 but claims that last summer Fabling stopped paying Lone Star’s invoices. 

When that happened, Torres said he decided he’d wrap up work on his remaining projects with Fabling Built and stopped working with the firm after that. 

“I didn’t want to leave him stranded because I knew he had projects pending. We did our last projects in December (2022), and now he still owes us $160,000,” Torres said. 

“We wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and help him grow. We had some capital to throw at projects and I expected this money to come back, but it never did.…I wish we didn’t help him out,” Torres said. 

At least one other local contractor is picking up jobs from Fabling Built’s sudden closure by trying to finish jobs for some of Fabling’s clients.

Kwan Wongvian, whose Henrico-based firm Coastal Contracting offers similar services, said her company has already picked up the contracts of nearly 10 of Fabling’s projects for things like kitchen renovations and attic finishes. She said they range in cost from $10,000 to over $300,000. 

“They’re all residential and very large,” Wongvian said. “And they’re continuing to come in.”

Wongvian said over the 20-plus years she’s been contracting in the Richmond region, she’s built connections with plenty of subcontractors and clients, so when word of Fabling Built’s closure began to spread about two weeks ago, her email inbox began to fill with folks looking for help. 

“I just thought the clients needed help,” Wongvian said. “There’s some that can’t sleep at night.”

Coastal has also hired one of Fabling Built’s former salespeople, Wongvian said. It’s unclear how many full-time employees Fabling had at the time of its closure. 

As the fight for funds continues, the anonymous client said they’re worried Fabling may file for bankruptcy, making it even more difficult for clients to claw back their money. 

“I’m anticipating seeing none of my money back,” the source said. “(Fabling filing bankruptcy) is absolutely what I’m anticipating.”

There were no bankruptcy court filings involving Fabling Built as of Tuesday afternoon, according to online court records.

The first warrant in debt hearing against Fabling Built is scheduled for a court hearing on April 14.

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Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
10 months ago

Super sad for everyone involved. Managing leverage seems the hardest thing for small businesses. Especially in a rising rate environment & inflationary cost of goods.

Dan Warner
Dan Warner
10 months ago

For anyone who has to find a new contractor now, I had a very mediocre experience with Coastal Contracting. They did the absolute bare minimum to meet the contract requirements and ended up lying about a few things like saying they put in insulation where they didn’t. I ended up redoing most of their work within a few years. I wouldn’t trust them to do anything more complicated than paint.

CLARK CHESSER
CLARK CHESSER
10 months ago
Reply to  Dan Warner

That’s unfortunate. Kwan has been really active on social media getting Fabling customers to have Coastal take over their projects.

Dan Warner
Dan Warner
10 months ago
Reply to  CLARK CHESSER

Their customer service when it came to sales was not the same as their work in my experience.

Kwan Wongvian
Kwan Wongvian
10 months ago
Reply to  Dan Warner

Hi Dan, we do not have you in our system as a current or previous customer. If you are not salified with the work that we provided, please reach out to us so that we can discuss it.

Lisa Williamson
Lisa Williamson
10 months ago
Reply to  Dan Warner

Mediocre? You got off easy.

Ben Nelson
Ben Nelson
10 months ago

For anyone looking for a replacement contractor, Ryson Renovations did a great job on my property. Interestingly enough, Fabling actually put a bid on the project as well, but did not move forward with them due to them not being clear/upfront on all costs associated with the project

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
10 months ago

Seems so strange since these folks got so much exposure, always seemed busy and seemed to have a good reputation. I think they received Best Renovation Contractor in Richmond Magazine a few years ago. With plenty of work, plus additional customers paying in advance, there should have been more than enough money to keep things going.

CLARK CHESSER
CLARK CHESSER
10 months ago

Brett – they were busy as heck, we don’t get it either, and we were customers! They had just finished our project in late February, and I think our PM said he had six other projects he was in charge of. We had extensive exterior work done – gutters, stucco repair, replace front porch, demo a disgusting old out building, new concrete and masonry, painting the house, Fencing, lots of stuff, they started last October. They had done our interior work in 2020, and we really liked the work they did. I feel awful for all the clients that are… Read more »

Dan Buckingham
Dan Buckingham
10 months ago

My condolences to all parties involved having to deal with this. Never like seeing a business go under and the customers suffer. That being said, if you are one of those effected by this and need a licensed contractor with experience in remodels, additions, and custom home building please reach out. My number is 804-441-4576.

CLARK CHESSER
CLARK CHESSER
10 months ago

I am really heartbroken for the subs and former employees of Fabling – not to mention the clients left in the lurch. Fabling did extensive exterior work for us, and just finished in late February – mere days before this announcement. They did great work for us, awesome work ethic and excellent craftmanship. It pains me to think that some of those very hardworking people wouldn’t get paid. I have really conflicting feelings – relief that our project completed, and horror at what might have happened, if they had folded earlier.

Donald Day
Donald Day
10 months ago

Sub contractors that did work and haven’t been paid should file mechanics liens against the homes . May have to wait for house to sell but it can’t unless lien is paid off

Jay Monitor
Jay Monitor
10 months ago
Reply to  Donald Day

Why should homeowners have to ensure subcontractors are paid when the homeowner already paid the company who hired the subs to do the work? Unless I’m completely misunderstanding what you’re suggesting you are way off base with your comment. If I’m misunderstanding then I certainly apologize.

Dean Crouch
Dean Crouch
10 months ago
Reply to  Jay Monitor

My understanding of Virginia mechanics’ lien laws is that the owner can’t be made to pay for the same work twice. If they pay the general contractor, and the general contractor does not pay the subs, then the subs can sue the general contractor, but the homeowner is off the hook. Are they any lawyers reading this chain who can confirm this?

Doug Spencer
Doug Spencer
10 months ago
Reply to  Dean Crouch

You are correct. An owner’s “defense of payment” will be successful if they can prove that they paid the general contractor in full. If the owner made partial payments, the law is not so clear and the subcontractor may be entitled file and collect on a lien. (I am a retired attorney).

Sharon Slayton
Sharon Slayton
10 months ago
Reply to  Donald Day

In this case it’s the home owners who have been screwed not the contractors.

Polgar Concertado
Polgar Concertado
10 months ago

Davidson Builders did the same thing a few years ago. They were a husband-wife team as well. Screwed their subs and clients (many were friends) and moved out west. The home remodeling business is the wild wild west.

Bill James
Bill James
10 months ago

A very unfortunate but all too familiar story in Richmond. Sounds like the Bobby & April Straus and Cobblestone groups that made the news after leaving so many clients on the hook for costly home renovation projects. Hope Fabling’s customers have a better outcome.

Robert Wood
Robert Wood
10 months ago

That’s a shame to hear. I grew up as neighbors with that family and went to school with Bradley, but I was not aware that this had occurred.

Ron Melancon
Ron Melancon
10 months ago

KARMA will find a way….. they took vacations and spent money…. Driving big fancy cars…. Making a great impression on the outside but in the end they lived a lie and toon down many people

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron Melancon

HGTV show is next!

Brian Austin
Brian Austin
10 months ago

AHG Construction & Remodeling does a lot of renovations and Additions in the Richmond Metro Area. We are actively taking on projects similar in scope and size.
804-299-3155 office

Sharon Slayton
Sharon Slayton
10 months ago

Don’t give contractors so much money up front. Get a signed contract and have it notarized with put time limits on the progress and if they are not measuring up, speak up. Send motorized letters and let them know your dissatisfaction. Take them to court before they bankrupt you or themselves.
Have to Watch everything these days. People are not trustworthy.

Isabelle Sadler
Isabelle Sadler
10 months ago

Coastal Contracting has performed a few jobs for us and we could not be happier with the results.

Ryan Snyder
Ryan Snyder
10 months ago

For all the homer owners thinking about hiring a builder. These are a couple easy steps to protect yourself and everyone involved in your project. Make sure all the langue below is in your written contract with the builder. Before you sign any contract with a builder, pay a couple $100 to have an attorney review it. Before construction starts have the builder release all names and info of every subcontractor and building supply house being used on your project. (names, numbers and contractor licenses numbers) Before you release any progress payment have the builder submit notarized and sign lien… Read more »

Vicki Lindsey
Vicki Lindsey
10 months ago

If a contractor uses down payment funds for job number 12 to pay for materials and labor for job number 4, that sets the stage for a Ponzi-style scheme. Down payments ahead of any job that will start at a later date should be placed in an escrow account. Funds should not be disbursed until materials are purchased for your specific job. This will help keep things from going off the rails.

John Ryan
John Ryan
10 months ago
Reply to  Vicki Lindsey

All too common in this size contracting business. Sad, greed and unrealistic visions always eat these guys alive. More appetite than sense

John Swain
John Swain
10 months ago

One additional check of any business owner/operator is the public court records. Twelve moving violations – eight for speeding – tell me Casey Fabling was a bit irresponsible in at least one way.

Last edited 10 months ago by John Swain
S. C. Bowman
S. C. Bowman
10 months ago

https://www.dpor.virginia.gov/Boards/Contractors_Recovery_Fund/ I feel for those who have been (let’s call it what it is) victimized by incompetent contractors. But business-friendly Virginia cheerfully adds insult to injury. The state Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) has a recovery fund for compensating “eligible”victims of “licensed contractors” through a complex and excessively restrictive procedure. It includes absurd limits & Byzantine rules that require, among many other things, a court judgment before any payout will be even considered. Check out the link above. ($20k max payout per claimant, and $40k max payout per contractor for each 2-year period.). Thank heaven we have this… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by S. C. Bowman
Marcos Silva
Marcos Silva
10 months ago

I am only familiar with the commercial side of design and construction where there are procedures and practices set for how much a contractor gets paid and it’s all based on work completed or materials stored. Contractors are required to submit a schedule of values and that becomes the yardstick to measure job progress. However, in the residential contracting world it seems to be common practice for contractors to require payment before work is done, including large percentages just to sign a contract. Most clients would have no clue and just sign whatever is presented. Does the State have recommended… Read more »

Marcos Silva
Marcos Silva
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcos Silva

DPOR actually has recommendations for consumers. Deposits should never be higher than 30% for large projects (should be way less for a new home, I would guess). https://www.dpor.virginia.gov/Consumers/Guide_Contractor#:~:text=Limit%20your%20down%20payment%20or%20deposit.&text=A%20good%20rule%20of%20thumb,total%20value%20of%20the%20contract.

Last edited 10 months ago by Marcos Silva
Israel Lyons
Israel Lyons
10 months ago

TOUGH SITUATION. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, WE CAN HELP! FOR ANYONE LEFT IN LIMBO PLEASE CONTACT KARNAGE CONSTRUCTION AT 804-300-0023 AND ASK FOR MOE. VISIT KARNAGECONSTRUCTION.COM COR MORE INFO. THANK YOI

Matthew Barber
Matthew Barber
10 months ago

Even without any details, I feel comfortable saying that the Fablings are good folks. I’ve known them for years and am saddened by this. Hope everyone gets made whole.

kay christensen
kay christensen
10 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Barber

The Fablings were not likely surprised by their dire financial position. To defraud many unsuspecting consumers and contractors who will not see a dime returned, it’s patently absurd to consider these “good folks”.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
10 months ago

Knowing nothing about the co. discussed above other than the fact that this is a viable industry but HARD to scale up I have to say that it is notoriously HARD to manage this sort of business well due to all kinds of things that make completing a job a hard thing to estimate esp the time catagory. Often, it is easiest to just keep things down to just two highly competent people who trust each other. I know this because I had a friend in the late 90s who was a carpenter-handyman who did exclusively remodeling work in Manhattan.… Read more »