Cape suspends permit privileges for Aranda Homes
In the wake of complaints from customers who say their new homes have been left unfinished despite payment made, the city of Cape Coral has suspended the permitting privileges of a Cape-based builder.
Aranda Homes, a self-described custom builder that has operated in the city for more than 40 years, has had its privileges placed on hold because they have been “unresponsive” to both customer complaints and city queries concerning the status of pulled permits, city officials said.
“They cannot pull additional permits; that (the suspension) is done by me as the building official,” said Paul Dickson, building official for the city of Cape Coral. “In order to reinstate those privileges, they would have to come and meet with us, obviously, and they would have to come up with a plan to complete the six outstanding permits and pay any outstanding liens. Only then would we consider reinstating their permitting privileges.”
Attempts to reach the license holders for the company have been unsuccessful, Dickson said.
“We have made repeated requests for a phone call or a meeting. They have not responded,” he said.
The license qualifiers listed with the city are John Conti and Dominick Izzo.
Officials identified with Aranda Homes by phone and email could not be reached for comment.
In addition to suspending the company’s ability to pull permits within the city, building officials have taken two other actions: They are working with clients who paid Aranda but have been left with work uncompleted, and they have referred those complaints to the state Department of Professional Regulation.
“The city, understanding that these people are victims, we work very closely with them to make the process as easily as possible to complete their homes,” Dickson said of the six in-city customers. “We do want to make sure that it is done right.
“Calls coming from clients are fielded by DCD (Department of Community Development) and are referred to our licensing investigators who work closely with the state of Florida,” he added.
One of those clients is Robert Pott. Construction began on Pott’s house last October and is well past the contracted completion date 180 days later. He said he paid almost all of the construction costs up front.
Now he stuck trying to finish the home himself.
“I’m stuck painting baseboards and other work with help from a friend. I’m not giving up. Now I have to pay twice and build once,” Pott said.
Some help, though, has come from within the building community – at least one subcontractor who worked with Aranda has offered to provide some substantial assistance.
Royal Air Systems owner Charlie Dellorso has offered to supply him with an air conditioning system for free, Pott said, adding the company installed systems for Aranda, but stopped due to payment issues.
“I gave them the calculations today, so we’ll see what happens. I have trust issues right now,” said Pott on Tuesday.
Royal Air has committed to providing the system, which is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $6,000, officials with company said Thursday.
“He just wanted to help them, he wasn’t even concerned about it, the cost,” said Linda Dellorso, co-owner of the family-owned business. “We’ve been in business a long time and Royal Air has a very good reputation. Charlie, he just wanted to help, we’ve lost money, too.”
In addition to the six homes in the Cape, Aranda Homes also left houses uncompleted in other areas of the county, according to city officials.
“I understand they have outstanding permits in other municipalities,” Dickson said. “I don’t know how many.”
Several years ago, Lee County and the city received similar complaints concerning unfinished homes by a variety of builders when the bottom fell out of the housing market.
“This is reminiscent of 2007, dozens of people (license qualifiers) just walked away,” Dickson said. “There was a large number of contractors that did not survive the down times.”
Aranda underwent a financial restructure in December of 2014 which brought in Andolino & Associates of North Palm Beach as financial advisors while leaving Izzo as chief executive officer and chief operating officer.
“Aranda Homes has a rich history in the Cape Coral area with 42 years experience and builder Dominick Izzo at the helm,” Joseph Andolino said in a press release announcing the financial restructuring. “We are confident that this arrangement will pave the way for a bright future for Aranda Homes and its customers.”
Until its apparent exit from the local market the Builder’s Showcase of Homes award winner had good reviews.
“Aranda always built a decent home. It was a surprise to me, it was unfortunate,” Dickson said of the company’s failure to complete homes under construction.
Officials with Andolino & Associates also could not be reached for comment by phone or email.