What to do about the closet system?

I’m annoyed about the drawers on the closet system I installed. Part of the problem is because the drawer rail screw heads are too proud and the drawer wheels snag on them. I showed this video to the retailer, but they offered no solutions. Their only suggestion was that I uninstall the system and return it.

After looking at different systems, I decide to try an repair this one I already have. I do this by removing the drawer rails, chamfering my own fastener holes, and then replacing the screws with flush top ones. My plan works and all of the drawers now work properly. But a new product should have worked out of the box, and never needed my customizations.

Painting and installing trim

Amáda has finished painting every room. I’m installing the trim I cut and marked earlier. Doing the job right means not skipping any steps. We’re carefully priming and painting each piece of trim with multiple coats.

Final hardware installed

I install the final hardware pieces around the finished basement, including door knobs, vent grilles, light trim kits, switch plate covers, and more. In the bathroom, I install a toilet paper holder and towel holders. I hang bi-fold doors in the laundry room and bedroom. I also install some last minute trim and touch up paint in a few areas.

Structured media panel finished

Today I completed the structured media enclosure. Over the last 6 years we’ve had to rebuild half of house, so we took the opportunity to upgrade our household telephone, cable, and CAT6 networks. Everything is patched from this panel.

A structured media enclosure inset into a wall with the door closed.
A structured media enclosure inset into a wall with the door open showing patch panels for telephone, cable TV, a household computer network, security camera system, as well as a modem and Wi-Fi router.

6 years later, it’s finally DONE.

A flipper swindled us, resulting in over $100,000 in house repairs. We spent years undoing his predatory remodeling, rebuilding the house ourselves, and blogging every step of the way. Debt, depression, and therapy will continue for years to come. But today the reconstruction project passed its final inspection from the city building official. I can’t stop sobbing. It’s done. The ordeal is officially done.

Floorplan for a finished basement showing 2 bedrooms, a full bathroom, family room, and a laundry room.
A finished basement without furniture, showing recessed lighting, wood grain vinyl flooring, and double French glass doors.
Double French glass doors in a bedroom.
Two closets in a garden-level basement bedroom with an egress window.
Two empty closets with the doors open showing closet organizing systems and bright LED lighting.
Panoramic view of a bedroom showing double French doors, two closets each with double doors, and an egress window.
A finished basement laundry room with wood plank vinyl flooring, white laundry machines, white cabinetry, laundry tub, a refrigerator, and a commercial rolling shelf.
A finished basement laundry room with wood plank vinyl flooring, white laundry machines, white cabinetry, laundry tub, and a refrigerator.
A bathroom vanity with a marble top, two sinks, two oval mirrors, ornate sconce lighting, and two monogrammed towels.
A bathroom with a tiled shower and towel bars mounted to the back of the door.
And empty family room with a TV mount and structured media panel. The rest of the room is empty.
An egress window in a basement bedroom.
A bare closet shown without doors or shelving.
The underside of a staircase has an arched support, and is finished with textured paneling.
A pet portal is a small archway that allows pets to move between rooms, even when doors are closed.
Beneath a staircase, a pair of crates are used as drawers. The underside of the staircase if finished with textured paneling.

Now, we can move back into the lower level, knowing that it is correct, complete, and there are no more hidden problems hidden by a flipper. This signed building permit is the proof that this awful ordeal is finally done and over with.

A building permit that has passed final inspection, signifying that the project is done.

A story in 11 pictures

Here is the same view from the bottom of the stairs as seen over the years.

What’s next?

I’m going to continue working on local, state, and federal legislation to prevent predatory remodeling and providing real consequences for flippers who practice it.

Will we find more problems that the flipper hid? Maybe. But not on this level of the house.

Flipper screwed into the side of the microwave!

The microwave has died. It’s the same microwave that came with the house when the flipper sold it to us. I started to uninstall it when I noticed something crazy. Normally, an over-the-range microwave hangs from the wall cabinets above. But because the flipper used recycled cabinets, the overhead cabinet is riddled with holes, making it too weak to hang another microwave.

Kitchen wall cabinet for hanging an over-the-range microwave has many holes in the bottom from supporting multiple microwaves in the past.

The flipper’s solution was to hold up the weight of the machine by screwing directly into the side of the microwave with drywall screws! We’ve been living with it this way for over 6 years! No real estate inspector would have ever spotted this hazard.

Drywall screw puncturing the side of a microwave housing.
Drywall screw puncturing the side of a microwave housing.
Side of a microwave that has a hole from a screw.

I uninstalled the dead microwave, ordered a replacement, and reinforced the swiss cheese cabinet with several pieces of plywood inside and out. I installed the replacement microwave in the same spot.

Space where an over-the-range microwave would be installed below some kitchen wall cabinets.

That guy with the horrible house

A laptop showing the Hoodwinked House website.

This blog got a fatal virus in September 2017. It’s online again, backfilled with years of new stories and photos about predatory remodeling. I migrated the entire website from one content management system to a completely different one, mostly by hand. Much like the house, this website is safer and more stable than ever.

What’s this about?

I bought a house in 2013. Just days later, I found out that I had been swindled by a flipper when the house started falling apart. This blog went viral as I documented the unbelievable problems.

What’s happened since 2017?

A finished basement without furniture, showing recessed lighting, wood grain vinyl flooring, and double French glass doors.

The good news is, we completely fixed the house. It took us 6 years of personal labor working long hours every evening and weekend. There were many setbacks. Plans had to change more than once. Things we thought we had fixed needed to be fixed yet again. But in the end, it’s done and done correctly.

The bad news is that I’m still tallying-up 6 years of receipts. I know the repairs cost more than $100,000… probably closer to $130,000. We’re also still paying for those repairs above and beyond our mortgage and other bills.

Did I find out who did it?

Yes. I was able to track down the flipper and his associates. I’ve also worked with over a dozen attorneys, litigators, and investigators to find justice. The bottom line is that there is no way to collect damages from the flipper. None of the options we hoped for were available to us. We were fraud victims the moment I signed the paperwork at closing.

What’s next?

Frost Simula and Amáda Márquez Simula

I’ve learned a lot about real estate fraud over the years. I’ve also learned about the best ways to prevent predatory remodeling. More examples of this fraud has surfaced in our city, so officials have a renewed interest in preventative measures. I’m also currently working to get a home buyer protection bill through the state legislature. I’ll keep you updated about that.

Amáda and I thank you all for your years of ongoing support! Please continue to share this blog and warn home buyers about this type of fraud.

Flipper filled a recessed light with drywall mud!

Back in 2013, I found out that my kitchen had been remodeled, and I knew that a recessed light had been removed from the soffit.

Side-by-side comparison showing a kitchen with a recessed light and the same kitchen without one.

What I didn’t know is that the fixture is still there inside the soffit! It’s still wired up, and everything!

A recessed light as seen from above the ceiling drywall.

I dunno, guys. If I wanted to remove a recessed light from a kitchen, I’d just do that. Instead the flipper just filled it in with mud! No electrical inspector would ever approve of this. This is just one more example of predatory remodeling by a real estate flipper.