Navigating Contractor Disputes
Home repairs are daunting. Whether homeowners seek a full-blown kitchen renovation or minor tile replacement, they often rely on experts to get the job done. All projects run the risk of imperfection, however, and in the worst possible scenarios, result in contractor negligence that causes more harm than good.
When a contractor is found guilty of negligent work, the homeowner, or beneficiary of the contractor’s work, has several options. Though ill-advised, the beneficiary can overlook the mistake and seek another contractor’s help, or they can seek money for damages through mitigation or litigation.
Before pressing forward with any remediation efforts, review your home repair contract. What you perceive as negligence or unprofessionalism could simply be a misunderstanding of contract terms such as approved materials, agreed upon completion phases, parties responsible for payment, etc. If you find that the contractor is, in fact, in default on one of these terms, then the contractor is considered in breach of contract, supplying you (the plaintiff) with the evidence for a potential civil lawsuit.
Prior to entering court, you may wish to consider mediation or arbitration. Both options are less formal, yet more affordable than a visit to small claims court. Like a civil suit, however, mitigation and arbitration strive to reach a just conclusion for both parties. Depending on the severity of the contractor’s mistakes, the plaintiff may be owed money or complimentary repairs. In extreme cases, the contractor could face jail time.
When mitigation proves fruitless and you enter into a lawsuit with a contractor, you’re considered in litigation. Talk to your attorney about the difference between suing a contractor personally and suing his or her LLC; the liability of the contractor differs greatly between the two cases. In court, your case is dependent on evidence, so be sure to keep a strong record of any carelessness demonstrated throughout your home renovation process.