All they wanted was a nursery for their baby, paying more than $7,000.
But instead they say their contractor took the money and left them with an unfinished room.
The only worry the Rodriguez family should have this week is the baby boy that’s due any day.
“This is supposed to be in the nursery. That’s the crib,’’ says Jose Rodriguez, who lives in Brandon.
But the baby furniture and other supplies are still sitting in the living room.
“We paid him $7,300,” says Rodriguez.
The nursery isn’t close to being ready. It’s all because they paid a contractor who didn’t finish the job to turn their garage into a new office, so Jose’s old office would be the new nursery.
“He came in and did some drywall. This wasn’t done,” says Rodriguez.
This is where that new office would be. The contractor started the project in July but only worked for five days. Since then, he’s been a no-show.
“We got a loan to do this and now we're paying monthly for something we don’t have,” says Rodriguez.
That contractor is Joel Chapa. According to sunbiz.org, he is the owner of Joey’s Property Group.
But according to a mug shot from August 27, he is also unlicensed.
Something the Rodriguezes had no clue about until they started researching his name.
We were able to reach Chapa by phone and asked him why he was doing construction work unlicensed.
“I was able to get a permit if I needed one. I told them this needs a permit. I can’t do it without having a permit. So it took time,” says Chapa.
Chapa says although he’s been in business for years, he had no clue he had to be licensed with the state until his arrest a few weeks ago.
He says moving forward, he is not going to be running his own company anymore now that he knows it’s illegal.
He also says that because of his arrest, he is behind on the Rodriguez’s addition. He says since he can’t finish the work now since it’s not licensed, he will give them a partial refund.
Chapa says that his business is registered with the state, but Bryan Oglesby with the Better Business Bureau says that doesn’t matter.
“Anytime a contractor is doing something structural, plumbing, renovations, those are going to be regulated by the state of Florida and will need a license,” says Oglesby.
Oglesby says unlicensed contractors is one of the top complaints, and the best defense is doing your research and pay with a credit card.
“Always good to put the minimum down. We always promote pay 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, then hold 10 percent until the job is completed,” says Oglesby.
If you need to verify a contractor, we’ve made it really easy for you, just visit myfloridalicense.com.
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