OKWOOD, TX (KBTX) — A Leon County family has lost more than $270,000 after they say a contractor left their home unfinished and their property in ruins.
Mark and Jeanie Haas have always dreamed of a home in the Texas countryside where they can enjoy the fruits of their labor while entertaining family and friends.
Mark, a disabled Marine, and Gini, an accountant who is now battling stage five kidney disease, say their dream home has become a nightmare that hasn’t stopped since they hired Luis Carrillo, owner of LC Custom, in September 2021. Homes in Buffalo.
The Haas family told KBTX they have outlined 11 projects they wanted Carrillo to complete, including building a new home, installing a new generator and HVAC system, new fencing around the property, underground fuel storage, concrete work, and more. . The family says they have invested more than $300,000 in total in real estate, including building materials, appliances and wages.
Because Carrillo was local and highly recommended, the Haas family says they decided to pay him upfront. They say that in addition to feeling comfortable with Carrillo, they also wanted to lock in lower material and labor costs in the face of persistent inflation.
“We invested $341,000 in real estate. Some of that amount was spent on new appliances, furnishings, a well and a generator, but the actual cash we gave him is roughly $270,000,” Mark said.
Mark says that the last year was difficult not only for him, but for the whole family.
“I hate to sound cliché, but it was a living hell. My wife and I seem to be living in a landfill. We had so much hope to fulfill our dream and enjoy the fruits of our labor,” Mark said. “I have worked for 41 years. My wife had to return to work even with kidney disease. She has to visit her specialists regularly. She takes medications that have very, very adverse side effects.”
“It affected our marriage. It affected our physical health, our mental health,” Mark said. “It’s just, it was like something I never wished on anyone.”
The Haas family says the challenges go beyond new construction, affecting their current home and how they interact with their children and grandchildren.
“We live in this cabin. We don’t have heat because he turned off the gas lines, and this is incomplete,” Mark said. “We are working on heaters. We don’t have proper sewerage when we flush the toilet. Untreated sewage seeps in here. We have electricity, electricity that lies next to you, it is hot. It’s 220 volts of power just sitting there.”
“It’s very dangerous when [our grandchildren are] here. We can no longer let them off the porch to play the way they played, because we are afraid that they will get hurt, ”Gini said.
“We are just prisoners of our own home because of this man’s decisions,” Mark added.
Mark says one of the most frustrating parts of the situation is what he calls Carrillo’s “constant lies”.
“The last time we met was in August when we had a meeting right here on this porch. Actually, we filmed it. It lasted 42 minutes and I just said, “It’s time to tell the truth,” Mark said. “You’ve been working on this house for a year now and it’s still not finished, nothing has been done. You have come up with nothing but excuses and lies.”
“His excuse was, ‘I made mistakes and I don’t know how to handle money.’ It’s just one lie after another after another,” Mark said. “We tried to contact but he blocked us on his phone and he is just a ghost. He won’t come out here and won’t talk to us.
Bank documents provided by the Haas family show that thousands of dollars were transferred and paid out in cash to the Carrillos. They say they not only squandered the money they gave him, but also paid off the construction loan they took out to carry out the work.
“We haven’t completed the project yet, but the loan is still there,” Mark said. “And I’m paying $2,500 a month on a mortgage that didn’t exist before he came here.”
The Haas family has since filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation after learning that Carrillo does not hold an electrical or HVAC certification.
“I have asked him several times if he is indeed certified/licensed to do my Generac setup and the electrics that it all entails, and he has repeatedly told me yes,” Mark said. “He said he got his license working at the power plant in Limestone, which turned out not to be the case. I never asked him about the air conditioner because by the time it became a problem, it was gone after only a few days.”
KBTX made several attempts to meet with Carrillo to get his point of view, including two trips to Buffalo. We spoke to him on the phone, and he again refused to be interviewed, but declared that he was innocent. We also requested a written statement, to which Carrilo replied: “According to my lawyer, I cannot tell my story with all the evidence and facts, but I will do it as soon as the investigation with the sheriff’s department is completed.”
Mark and Gini say they just want Carrillo to take responsibility for his actions.
“We are not asking for any special treatment. We are not asking for a favor. We are asking for nothing but due process and we rightly understand that we have been the victims of a very serious and costly crime,” Mark said. “We just want what any other American in the same circumstances would expect. No favors, nothing. Just what is right. That’s exactly what’s right.”
“No one gave us this. We worked. We’ve worked all our lives for this,” Jeanie said. “Every day of our lives goes into the past for decades, and we deserve it. It’s no different than someone working in retirement for 40 years, and they retire, but they have their pension check taken.”
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