Who built their house? WBTV Investigation surprises new homebuyers who didn’t realize who their contractor was
The company they contracted with listed itself as the licensed contractor but doesn’t have a license.
INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. (WBTV) – Customers of a self-proclaimed building company tell WBTV they were having trouble getting the contractor to honor their warranty and fix dozens of issues in their newly built homes. A WBTV Investigation into their expensive predicaments revealed a different licensed general contractor was actually responsible for building their homes, one they had never even heard of.
WBTV spoke with half a dozen of JEMA Builders’ customers who say they have serious concerns about the quality of their homes, some of them worth upwards of $400,000, after cosmetic issues, water damage and a host of other problems have plagued the brief time in their new homes.
“I guess you could say concerning things too, now that it’s been a year since we moved in,” Mario Flores told WBTV.
Mario Flores lives with his parents Mario and Sandra in their new JEMA Builders home in Indian Trail.
WBTV first started investigating JEMA Builders after the younger Flores mentioned his parents’ new home troubles to Investigative Reporter David Hodges. The two are teammates in an adult soccer league in Charlotte.
It only took one visit to the Flores home to find out the problems were not exaggerated.
Exposed screws and nails, marked with tape, covered the walls and ceiling. Busted drywall greeted visitors entering the front door. Gaps in the panel siding of their home have them concerned about long-term exposure to the elements that might damage their home.
Mario and his parents said one day, water was running down the outside of their house after the shower was turned on.
“After that, we were concerned there was some type of water damage that was running down the house,” Mario Flores said.
His parents, Mario and Sandra Flores, said they reached out to the company they contracted with, JEMA Builders, to fix the problems.
“They came, checked, and saw several defects. They didn’t return to fix anything” Sandra Flores said.
In an interview with WBTV, Jaime Moreno, who claims to own JEMA Builders, said the problems weren’t covered in the warranty in the contract.
“That’s not a structural warranty issue, that’s a cosmetic issue,” Daniel Medina, who was translating for Moreno, said.
“There are no complaints that they’re aware of,” Medina said for Moreno.
But WBTV has video that was shot by the Flores family of Moreno and his wife Paola Alban, a realtor with Paola Alban Realtors and was also involved in the property transaction, at their home talking about the issues with the exposed screws and nails. Alban was not present at the interview with WBTV, despite her phone number and business address being listed on JEMA Builders state business filing.
The Flores contract clearly states the one-year warranty requires the “Seller and General Contractor will make all necessary repairs and corrections” “either interior or exterior, structural or nonstructural.”
An attorney representing JEMA Builders wrote in an email that “faulty construction” does not cover cosmetic issues like nail pops and paint wear.
However, a simple internet search reveals many homebuilders include repairs of nail pops and drywall cracks in their one-year warranty, even if they don’t offer to paint over the repairs.
But the WBTV Investigation revealed JEMA Builders isn’t actually the builder of their home, which came as a surprise to the Flores family as well as Fernando Ferro, another JEMA Builders customer. They tell WBTV they were under the impression that JEMA Builders and Moreno was the contractor for their home.
“She (Alban) told me in the beginning, we are the contractors, we sell the houses,” Ferro told WBTV.
Permits for Ferro’s project and others show that the licensed general contractor for the homes was DHM Designs and Daniel Medina, the person translating for Moreno during the interview with WBTV.
“Had you ever heard of Daniel Medina before?” an Investigative Reporter for WBTV asked Ferro.
“Daniel Medina? No,” Ferro said.
“Had you ever heard of DHM Designs?”
“No, Sir,” Ferro said.
Ferro tells WBTV there are 25 separate problems with his house he notified JEMA about, but he says they haven’t fixed most of them. Walking through his house, Ferro pointed out cracked drywall, missing cabinets, a broken window and more problems he says aren’t being addressed.
On its corporation filing with the North Carolina Secretary of State, JEMA Builders lists itself as a “home builder” under the business description section.
Not only that, but on the contract with the Flores family, JEMA Builders is marked as the general contractor, and Medina’s license number is written as JEMA’s license number with the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.
“From my understanding, there was a typo on one contract where the office people put JEMA builder as the ‘GC’,” Medina said.
But WBTV has copies of three other contracts where JEMA Builders is marked as the licensed general contractor. On one of the contracts, the seller is listed as Jennifer Pains, who Moreno said is his daughter. JEMA is clearly marked as the GC on that contract and a license number other than Medina’s was listed. WBTV contacted that general contractor, who said his company terminated the relationship with JEMA Builders because of disputes over money, payments, and construction of the home.
Out of the four contracts WBTV has obtained, only Ferro’s lists DHM Designs as the licensed general contractor.
JEMA Builders largely advertises in the Spanish-speaking community. All of JEMA’s customers WBTV have spoken to speak Spanish as their primary language, except one.
Customers like Ferro said they had huge expectations for their new homes. He is paying a lot of money to live in a new house he planned on spending the rest of his life in.
“It’s the most important purchase that you do in your life, for your family. This is the dream for everyone,” Ferro said.
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