NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - A 92-year-old retiree decides he can't live without his sunroom which was in dire need of repair. When he hired a contractor to fix it up, the project almost got scrapped because of a building code barricade. But a community stepped up to give him the space he dreamed of.
Frank Stern saved up for about a year before he hired a contractor to repair his sunroom and replace its windows.
Contractor Marty Unch said, "Frank wanted to replace all the windows in his sunroom. He enjoys this sunroom, he sits in this sunroom, he has a little trampoline that he actually works out on and he's 92 years old."
But years of wear and tear meant he'd have to replace more than just his windows.
"We found some rotted wood from the old Florida jalousie windows that you see here that have been leaking," Marty pointed out.
And the more work that needed to be done, the higher the cost.
"Everything kept adding up... Frank was working on his budgets and thinking, gee this is getting expensive-- but hey, I really want to use my sunroom, let's go ahead with it," Marty explained.
With his budget to the max, the next blow almost caused Frank to scrap the entire project.
"[Building services] had to reject our plans because the windows we were putting in, although they're high efficient windows, they are not impact windows," Marty told WINK.
If Frank didn't spend more to put in impact windows, he'd have to install a shutter on the sliding glass door leading from the sunroom into his home, before the project would be approved. While the move would protect his home in a storm, because his condo is on the second story, he would have to install electric shutters, which cost more. Both options were just too expensive for Frank.
"I decided that this project is going to go if I got to give him the shutter. One way or another," Marty said.
That's when he started making calls.
"Thank goodness we've got such a great community here in Fort Myers. Storm Smart industries is making up the shutter at 50% under wholesale price; we're putting the shutter on at no charge. And we still have that 50% to deal with. I call Custom Window Systems out of Ocala, Florida, who is providing the windows, through Town and Country industries, another Fort Myers company, and they've discounted the windows," Marty explained.
And with that, the project was back on and Frank couldn't be happier.
He told us, "Marty's a wonderful contractor. He knows his business and he's a nice person."
While the community chipped in to get Frank his sunroom, Marty says that's not usually the case. He wants Florida lawmakers to change building codes, so construction crews won't lose business.
Lee County Building Services tells us the codes on the books protect everyone from harm, no matter how rich or poor. They say there are no exemptions for anyone when it comes to safety.