By: Genevieve CurtisEL PASO, Texas-- An El Paso family was in the middle of building their dream home when construction all of a sudden stopped.
“This was my living room,” said Sofia Reyes walking through the home she and her husband started building almost two years ago. Like many, Reyes dreamed of what her home would look like someday, three bedrooms, a walk-in closet and a big backyard with plenty of room for their two kids to run in. “It starts like a very big dream,” said Reyes. It eventually turned to plans when Reyes and her husband hired a contractor to build the house they always wanted. The family of four thought they'd soon be living in their home in the Upper Valley. "It’s very exciting to have a house like this,” said Reyes. At the end of 2012 they signed a contract with Carlos Martinez of Cube Home Construction. They agreed the home would cost a little more than $137,000. The couple began making payments totaling $127,00 and progress was being made. A frame, a roof and four walls. Then Reyes said her husband asked Martinez for proof of work; Reyes said that’s when construction came to a halt. “All of a sudden it's just a nightmare,” said Reyes. Martinez left the home a little more than half done. No windows or doors, nothing to protect it from the elements. Martinez also allegedly didn't pay the workers he hired, so the workers placed a lien on the house for unpaid wages. The El Paso County Attorney's Office couldn't speak about this specific case because it is under investigation. But the trial team chief of the criminal unit, Patricia Lopez, said it’s important to pay attention to a contractor's workers. “If you see workers aren't really showing up or they say they haven't gotten paid, that can be a warning sign,” said Lopez. Also be wary of a businesses that frequently changes its name on the county's website under the assumed names also known as "doing business as." “If they notice that the business name has changed every couple years or once a year, it's usually because they are trying to continue doing the business without having a record,” said Lopez. KFOX14's chief investigative reporter found Martinez registered several different business names in the last 10 years. The name of his current business, Cube Homes, isn't even registered under his name, but rather, his wife’s name. “It's made me cry; it's made me very upset,” said Reyes. When KFOX14 Investigates contacted Martinez, he said the couple kept making changes to the house that would cost more money. But none of those changes were documented. A week ago, Martinez agreed to meet KFOX14 for an interview but then stopped answering phone calls. KFOX14 Investigates went to meet him at his home. The woman who answered the door said Martinez was not home. But right after we left, Martinez called. He said he had a verbal understanding with the couple, which he admits may have opened him up to some problems. He also claimed the couple didn't pay him on time. Martinez said he was advised by an attorney not to do an interview with KFOX14. Reyes filed a report with the El Paso Police Department. Police tell KFOX14 Investigates they've assigned a detective to the case. Standing in the shell of her house, Reyes says they hired another contractor to finish the job, which will cost them more than $75,000. “I just wish I could move in right now but I can’t,” said Reyes. Reyes hopes one day soon, the house can finally become their home. The county attorney’s office also said if you hire a contractor, make sure your contract is as specific as possible. Also be sure it includes a completion date. If you have a similar experience with a contractor, you are urged to report it to the Better Business Bureau.
The county attorney’s office also said you need to file a report with police because that begins to establish a paper trail and a history of potentially deceptive businesses. It can also help prevent others from using the same contractor.
Genevieve Curtis' Bio
Terms & Conditions
Contact KFOX14 El Paso
FCC Public File
EEO Public File Report
© 2014, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
KFOX14 provides local news, weather coverage and traffic reports for El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, NM and nearby towns and communities in Clint, Fabens, Socorro, San Elizario, Canutillo, Vinton, Anthony, Ysleta, Horizon City, Fort Bliss, Van Horn, Fort Hancock, Tornillo, Westway, La Mesa, Mesilla, Mesquite, San Miguel, Vado, Deming, Alamogordo, White Sands, Chaparral, Berino, Chamberino, Dona Ana, Elephant Butte, Hatch, La Union, Radium Springs, Sunland Park, Santa Teresa and Truth or Consequences (Tor C).