Construction loan is tough to get, but scrutiny not enough to help if contractor doesn't finish job

NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. - Jordan McInnes just bought a home in North Palm Beach, but her memories go back years.

"When I was a little girl I had sleepovers here. I bought the house from a family friend," said McInnes.

McInnes looked forward to her own son having sleepovers, but knew she'd have to gut her home first.

The rehab project left McInnes with an empty feeling.

"I hate coming over here. It just breaks my heart ever since this happened. It turned my world upside down," said McInnes.

McInnes said the rehab project stalled when her contractor took the $15,000 check given to her by the bank, and didn't complete the contracted work.

"Everything you see here is what we've done and our friends have done," said McInnes.

McInnes hired Leonardo Gulino, of Gulino Construction to do all the work. She jumped through a lot of hoops to secure a construction loan to pay for it.

"You have to produce a lot of paperwork," said mortgage banker Josh Ulmer, of Ideal Lending Solutions.

Ulmer said a consumer needs to provide a contractors references, insurance, and an itemized list of work.  If a bank doesn't like what's provided, you have to find another contractor.

"I think the scrutiny upfront has definitely protected my borrowers," said Ulmer who did not work on McInnes's loan.

Borrowers like McInnes can still lose out.

The bank requires homeowners give the contractor 50-percent up front, even though industry standard is usually around 30-percent.

"That's just the norm. That's just the industry standard for the mortgage business," said Ulmer.

He said some contractors won't even take these jobs.

McInnes said she followed the mortgage company's rules thinking that protected her, but the bank said only 6-percent of the work was done and half the money is gone.

"That money is not his. He did not work for it. He is not entitled to it. It is my money, and I want it back," said McInnes.

In a December email, Gulino promised to pay back the money after he calculated his expenses. McInnes said she hasn't seen it. There are no sightings of Gulino. The construction business is no longer at its address. Phone calls, text messages, and Facebook messages were not returned. We got no response to certified mail.

"He's just taken everything from me to the point where I hate this house now," said McInnes.

Jordan filed a complaint with the state licensing board, Department of Business & Professional Regulation .

She can also go to arbitration per her loan contract, but it's unclear if the contractor will show up.

If you hire a contractor for any job, you can't be too careful. Make sure you do your research because ultimately you are responsible for the work done and permits that need to be pulled.


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