Troubleshooter: Avoiding headaches in home improvement

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Fred Ruffin just wanted to add more room to his home, but never thought it would come with a year's worth of frustrations.

Ruffin hired J&J Home Improvements in November of 2014. Jorge Garcia is the owner and Ruffin says at first work progressed as expected. Garcia put in new floors, and renovated one of Ruffin's bathrooms. Ruffin says he was happy with that work, but when it came time to the big addition of a master bedroom and master bathroom, there were problems.

"There's supposed to be a master bedroom from here all the way back to the corner," Ruffin said. Instead, Ruffin says Garcia just kept giving him excuses. "Texted me last night and said they'd be here at 8, but no one is here," Ruffin added.

Ruffin says he paid Garcia more than $50,000 for the work, work Garcia is not licensed to do. Ruffin added, "You pay someone to do a job. You expect it to get done."

Ruffin got me involved, and I talked to Garcia. Garcia immediately refunded Ruffin $10,000 and got crews right to work. Ruffin says work slowly progressed and he liked what he saw.
"I'm satisfied with it for the most part," Ruffin said.

Ruffin says he is happy that he can at least use the addition, which includes a new master bedroom and bath, but he's still frustrated with some of the items that haven't gotten done.
Ruffin says, "There's a crack from the one side of the ceiling all the way to the other side."

At this point, Ruffin says he's done waiting and just wants to move on.

RELATED: SEARCH FOR A GENERAL CONTRACTOR LICENSE HERE

Because of the items not completed, Garcia says he will refund to Ruffin another $10,000. So far he says he's paid $4,000 back, and will take care of the rest as soon as he gets it. Ruffin says he's worried Garcia won't follow through.

A major problem with this job: Garcia did not get any permits and is not licensed to do any job over $30,000.

The best advice, when you have a job this big is to make sure the person you hire is licensed to do this work, ask for their license number, and check to make sure it's legitimate.

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