OAKWOOD, Texas (KBTX) – A Lyon County family lost more than $270,000 when a contractor left their home unfinished and left their property in disarray.
Mark and Jenny Haas have always dreamed of owning a secluded home in rural Texas where they could enjoy the fruits of their labor while entertaining family and friends.
Mark, a disabled veteran, and Jenny, an accountant who is battling stage 5 kidney disease, say their dream home has become a new home since they hired Luis Carrillo, owner of LC Custom Homes in Buffalo, in September 2021. a nightmare.
The Haas family told KBTX they outlined 11 projects they would like 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. In total, they invested more than $300,000 in the property, including building materials, appliances and labor costs, the family said.
Because Carrillo is a local and came highly recommended, the Haas family said they decided to pay him up front. In addition to being happy with Carrillo, they said they wanted to lock in lower supply and labor costs amid stable inflation.
“We invested $341,000 in the property. Now, some of that went to new appliances, furniture, wells and generators, but the actual cash we handed him was about $270,000,” Mark said.
Mark said the last year has been challenging not only for him but for the whole family.
“I hate to sound cliche, but it’s a living hell. My wife and I feel like we’re living in a landfill. We want so badly to be able to fulfill our dreams and enjoy the fruits of our labor,” says Mark. “I’ve been on the job for 41 years. My wife has had to go back to work even though she has kidney disease. She has to see a specialist regularly. She’s on medication with very, very serious side effects.”
“It’s taking a toll on our marriage. It’s taking a toll on our physical health and our mental health,” Mark said. “It’s just, it’s like what I was, ever wanted anybody to do.”
The Haass say the problem is not limited to the new construction, but affects their current home and the way they interact with their children and grandchildren.
“We live in this cabin. We don’t have any heat because he disconnected the gas line, which is incomplete,” Mark said. “We’re working on space heaters. We don’t have proper sewage when we flush our toilets. Raw sewage seeps out of the pipes here. We have electricity, right next to you that’s hot. It’s 220-volt electricity, just over there.”
“It’s a very dangerous time [our grandchildren are] here. We can no longer get them off the porch to play like they do because we’re worried they’re going to get hurt,” Jenny said.
“Because of this man’s decision, we are just prisoners in our own family,” Mark added.
Mark said one of the most frustrating parts of the situation was what he called Carrillo’s “constant lies.”
“The last time we met was in August, and we had a meeting on this very porch. We actually recorded it. For 42 minutes, I just said, ‘You should confess,'” Mark said. “‘You’ve been working on this house for a year, and nothing is done, nothing is done. You’ve got nothing but excuses and lies.'”
“His excuse was ‘I made mistakes and I’m not good at money.’ It was just one lie after another,” Mark said. “We tried to contact him but he blocked us on the phone, he was like a ghost. He wouldn’t come out and he wouldn’t talk to us.”
Bank records provided by the Haas family show that Carrillo received thousands of dollars in wire transfers and cash payments. They said they not only spent the money they gave him, but also repaid the construction loan they took out to complete the work.
“Our project is not finished, but the loan is still there,” Mark said. “And I’m paying $2,500 a month on my mortgage, which didn’t exist before he came here.”
The Haas family has filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation after learning that Carrillo was not certified as an electrician or HVAC.
“I asked him multiple times if he was in fact certified/licensed to complete my Generac installation and all the electrical equipment needed to do that and he told me repeatedly yes,” says Mark. “He said he was licensed while working on a power plant in Limestone, which turned out not to be the case. I never asked him about air conditioning because when it became an issue, he disappeared after a few days.”
KBTX made multiple attempts to meet with Carrillo to learn his story, including two trips to Buffalo. We spoke to him by phone, and he again declined to be interviewed but said he was innocent. We also requested a written statement, to which Carrilo responded, “According to my attorney, I cannot present my history with all the evidence and facts, but I will do so as soon as the Sheriff’s Department investigation is concluded.”
Mark and Jenny say they just want to hold Carrillo accountable for his actions.
“We are not asking for any special treatment. We are not asking for help. We are not asking for anything other than due process and a fair understanding that we are the victims of a very serious and costly crime,” Mark said. “We just want what any other American would expect in the same situation. No good, nothing. What’s right. That’s it, what’s right.”
“Nobody gave us this. We worked. We gave our lives for it,” Jenny said. “Every day of our lives, decades ago, we deserve it. It’s no different than someone working 40 years for retirement, and they retire, but their retirement check is taken.”
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