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Troubleshooters: Woman has contractor issues, city deems home remodel not up-to-code

Troubleshooteres Cosner home.PNG
Posted at 4:18 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 19:48:52-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A homeowner and contractor are at odds over a job. Permits were not pulled and a lot of money has already been paid.

The Troubleshooters asked the City of Corpus Christi's Development Services Department to take a look at the work that has been done, without permits, to see if it's up to code. Turns out, the house has been red-tagged, which means no more work can be done until permits are pulled and inspections are done.

"I hired Juan Gardunos Remodeling to remodel the house inside and out, and turn the garage into a master bedroom," Fadua Ferdin told Luke Fry, deputy building official with the Development Services Department.

Fry was there, upon our request, to assess the job.

Ferdin says she's lived in this house on Cosner with her mom for more than 20 years, and figured it was time to give it a make-over.
So in July 2021, she hired contractor Juan Gardunos, who told her he could do what she wanted done, by August, for a little more than $36,000.

"I said, 'are you sure you could take this job?'," Ferdin recalled. "The house is a very old house, and it needs a lot of work as you can see. He goes ‘this is my kind of job Fee. This is what I do for a living. I can make it work.'"

But the job is not complete, and that's why Ferdin and her mother have been forced to live elsewhere until they can go back into the place they've called home for a long time.

"It’s gonna be awhile before y’all can move back in here," the Troubleshooters told Ferdin.

"It’s been a struggle, It’s been a struggle," she replied, choking back tears.

As Fry walked through the inside and outside of the house, he pointed out work that is not up-to-code.

"The general rule when you start removing walls, you have to have an engineer involved ‘cause that’s structural," he said.

According to Fry, not only is a structural or building permit required for a job like this, but so are electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits. Ferdin says she remembers talking to Gardunos about permits.

"Hey can you give me the permits? Proof of permits that you went and got," Ferdin recalled asking Gardunos.

"'You don’t need them. You don’t need them because it’s cosmetic work. It’s all inside," she said was his reply.

Ferdin's vision of the remodel included having the garage, now with rotted wood, converted into a master bedroom.

"Converting a room like this, it’s not conditioned to condition phase," Fry pointed out. "It requires a plan review. Permits. Inspection."

Speaking of permits, Gardunos told the Troubleshooters by phone Tuesday morning, that he would pull permits, and that a big reason why the job’s not done is because he had COVID-19. He also mentioned Ferdin’s mother interfering with the work, and that he did a lot of work on the house that wasn’t part of the contract. He said he would also be contacting his attorney.

After speaking with the us, he sent a text to Ferdin, which read in part:

"I never quit on that job, I told you what was going on. You send me that picture and I was going to go get the permit…it’s alright I don’t care, I’m not scared because I’ve done nothing wrong…but I do got my lawyers get back me up…"

After Luke Fry's visit to the home, he called for it to be red-tagged. Now, no more work can be done until an engineer is hired to design a plan and proper permits are pulled. In the meantime, Fry says development services will put Fee in touch with people who can help her.

"It’s unfortunate that this happened to you," Fry told Ferdin, "but now we want to help you get across the finish line with permits and proper inspections, and get you back in your house, rebuilt in a way that’s to code and one that’s safe."

Ferdin and Gardunos met with Fry and Development Services Director Al Raymond early Tuesday morning. At this meeting it was explained to Gardunos that he needs to have an engineer submit plans for the job. Those plans have to be approved before permits can be issued.

This is an example of how the Development Services Department's new S.T.A.R Program can help. It's designed for contractors to register with the city. That way, whenever residents are looking to hire them, they can first check to see if they're registered.

We'll continue following this story and let you know what happens next.