ROWLETT, Texas – For Rene Rushatsi, hope gave way to frustration long ago.
"They stole the money. I've been ripped off," he said.
Rushatsi and his family purchased their first home just three before that tornado hit Rowlett in December 2015.
They survived. But their home did not.
Rushatsi hired GCH Construction from Dallas to rebuild it.
His insurance verified GCH and began writing checks to both Rushatsi and GCH. One for $20,000. Another for $40,000.
"So, they have gotten $80,000 in total,” he explained. "This is what we have for $80,000 and as you can see the slab is not even poured yet."
Worked stopped in January, Rushatsi said. A month later, he added, he got an email from the company which states in part:
Due to many jobs having delays with construction and extended delays obtaining funds from insurance companies and mortgage companies, GCH has encountered major cash flow problems which have contributed to the loss of operating capital. We have been working very hard to come up with solutions to help get our contracted jobs completed, but this has proven to be an uphill battle. I sincerely apologize for all of the distress this has caused for all parties involved. It is our plan to continue to try to find a good solution that will allow us to complete the construction of your home.
That was February 17.
The owner, Josh Varnado, did not return messages from WFAA on Monday. The address for GCH Construction is an Eagle Postal Center in on McKinney Ave. in Dallas’ Uptown.
"I did everything right. I checked them on-line. The Better Business Bureau rated them with an A," said Rushatsi.
Five months since he said the company stopped working, Dallas’ Better Business Bureau still shows that A rating for GCH Construction.
In all, the tornado a year and a half ago damaged or destroyed 1,200 homes in Rowlett. Today, about 70 lots remain empty. Of those 70 vacant lots, homeowners told WFAA about 35 of them remain that way because of disputes between contractors.
Rushatsi’s neighbors shared similar stories of trouble with him. The City of Rowlett even created a registry which it hoped would prevent problems with contractors. In most cases, it has accomplished that goal.
Rushatsi said he is currently unable to afford an attorney since he pays rent for an apartment and remains stuck with an empty lot and a $1,200 mortgage for a house he does not have.