TROUBLESHOOTERS: Contractor Issues at Aspenwood House

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jun 26, 2024

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — We have a new Troubleshooters report bout a familiar topic.

A homeowner has a complaint about a contractor she hired, and partially paid, yet the job is nowhere close to being done. She said she called us for help getting this resolved.

The Troubleshooters spoke with the contractor who told us he'd take legal action if the story aired.

All Maria Kenerson wanted was to have a room addition built onto her home in her backyard. But after making 2 payments totaling nearly $15,000.00 to Gerald Hinojosa, the second contractor she hired, she invited us to take a look at it, and we did 2 weeks ago.

"He came to visit frequently and was very nice. He told me he would get the job done in 6 weeks, so I agreed to pay him 4 payments of $7300.00," she told the Troubleshooters.

Even though Kenerson had receipts showing she made the first 2 payments to Hinojosa, she claims he has never presented her with a contract explaining exactly what he would do.

In fact, while at Kenerson's home, the Troubleshooters called Hinojosa and left a message. We explained we were doing this story, and offering him an opportunity to give us his side of it.

He has never returned our call, but within minutes after leaving our message, Hinojosa sent us a text message which read in part, "Will I finish the work? If I don't return by the 15th of this month, I will return the money. Thanks you have a good day."

Today is June 26. No one has shown up at the house to give Kenerson any money for a refund...or to do any work.

The Troubleshooters were accompanied on this story by Nina Martinez of Telemundo. Hinojosa answered her call and was adamant in telling her, in Spanish, he did give Kenerson a contract.

Joe Ortiz is a long-time architectural technician, civil rights activist, and member of the G-I Forum.
He told us a different contractor referred him to Kenerson and he recommended Hinojosa to her.

"Never would have thought that this was going to happen. If I knew that I would have never recommended him. But that's life," he said.

Ortiz drew up the plans for the job, and in May 20-23, helped Kenerson get permits for the job from Development Services.

He also crafted a demand letter they sent to Hinojosa Monday, June 24, giving him till July 5 to refund Kenerson $15,000.00, or she'll take him to court.

While speaking with Telemundo's Martinez on our visit to Kenerson's home June 7, Hinojosa threatened Kenerson with legal action as well if she pursued this story.

"He threatended her that if she...if you give out his name, that he's gonna sue her for defamation," Ortiz told us.

At this point, Kenerson isn't even sure she wants Hinojosa coming back to her home to finish the job.

"He came by and asked for forgiveness," Kenerson said. "Said he had to tend to another problem, but I'm here now, if you'll let me finish the job. I said you've already destroyed everything. Why don't you just finish or just pay me my money? He said because I don't have the money. So I asked, well how are you going to build it?"

This situation is causing Kenerson more issues. She's on a fixed income and had to take out a loan to help pay for this project. She needs to repay the loan.

The Troubleshooters also reached out to the city's development services department, since they're the ones who issue permits. They told them they are looking into this.

We'll let viewers know what happens next.