Why weren't permits pulled for $60,000 home renovation?

Posted at 2:48 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 15:17:50-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — How would you feel if you paid a contractor $60,000 to do a project at your house?

And then had to fire him because the job just wasn’t getting done the way you wanted it done?

It’s what today’s Troubleshooters report is about.

The family’s son had just received news that he was in remission from colon cancer.

He’s also a father of three.

Plus, his grandmother, who lives in the house, is in hospice.

And now, he has troubles with the contractor the family hired.

The Rodriguez family has lived in this house on Bluebelle Lane since the 1950’s.

After working and saving for years, they decided it was time to make home improvements.

So in January of this year, they hired Woodwerk Carpentry to do a full house remodel, including a 24 x 12 addition.

Total cost? $60,000.00, payable in five installments.

Estimated time of completion? Thirty days.

But the first red flag was that no permits were pulled.

Jose Rodriguez Sr. told Troubleshooters that there was never any discussion between the contractor and him about permits.

"No discussion?" Rodriguez said. "All he said is that we didn't need them."

The family told the Troubleshooters Perez promised them his workers would show up to work and clean up the trash every day they were on site.

But as the days passed, the Rodriguez’s say they grew increasingly frustrated with the quality of work being done.

Jose Rodriguez Jr. recalled one particular incident.

"You saw one of the workers go on YouTube to figure out how to do what kind of work. Plumbing," Rodriguez Jr. said.

By February 5, according to terms of the contract, Perez had been paid in full.

The total of $60,000 had been delivered, yet the job was far from complete.

A month later, frustrated, the Rodriguezes fired Woodwerks Carpentry by text message.

And they’ve been living in their home like this, ever since.

The Troubleshooters contacted Woodwerks Carpentry's Lupe Perez, who agreed to an on-camera interview as long as we didn’t show his face.

He said it was to protect his family as he explained his job.

"I believe that when I told the family that I was building then a 24 x 12 addition, the homeowner didn’t fully understand the size of the 24 x 12 addition," Perez said. "So whenever we finally framed it up, built it, she expected it to be an additional 20 feet longer than that."

The Troubleshooters asked the city’s Development Services Department to inspect Woodwerk Carpentry’s work at the house.

And on Friday morning, Director Al Raymond, and three other department officials, showed up at the house, and did their inspection.

It was easy to see they didn’t like what they saw, inside or outside the house.

Especially since permits had not been pulled, and should have been.

Raymond points out the cost for permits is generally less than 1 percent of the total cost of a job.

In this case, that would have been approximately $600.

And in many cities across the country, Raymond added, code compliance only requires the contractor to meet minimum standards.

By the way, the Rodriguezes admit Perez didn’t charge them to build this front porch, however, Raymond pointed out it’s not built correctly.

"Andy, it’s unfortunate," Raymond said. "This happens a lot. Unfortunately, individuals who parade as contractors or subcontractors really take advantage of people."

Raymond says he’ll recommend a professional designer who can help the Rodriguezes and others, draw up specific plans for their project.

He further told the Troubleshooters the city does not have an ordinance that protects people, like the Rodriguezes from unscrupulous contractors, but he’s working on establishing a contractor registration program.