Hiring a contractor for a residential project is a major investment for most homeowners. But what happens if that contractor fails to fulfill the contract you made with them? What can you do to help ensure that you get the compensation or completion you need? Here are five key steps to take.
1. Consult an Attorney
Working with a lawyer as early as possible helps you avoid making errors that could make your case harder. Many businesses are also more likely to respond positively to an attorney rather than to a simple homeowner's communications. And because the civil law system is often unfamiliar to homeowners, they will help you navigate it without unnecessary expense, delays, or errors.
2. Gather Evidence
Strong evidence is crucial to winning any court case. The stronger and clearer your evidence is, too, the more likely the contractor is to agree to a settlement that benefits you. Evidence includes things like your contract, written communications with the contractor, photographs of the work and the disputed items, notes regarding verbal conversations, and even statements from witnesses.
3. Check Your Contract
Because this is generally a contract dispute, your contract is a lynchpin of your case. So make sure you know exactly what you and they agreed to. Unfortunately, many homeowners don't always understand what was in their contract or how it might work against them. Things like vague wording, missing details, errors, and settlement clauses are challenges you need to know about in order to overcome.
4. Make a Complaint
States and local governments often have agencies that oversee certain businesses. Registering a formal complaint for breach of contract provides additional evidence to support your claim. Your lawyer may advise you to make a complaint with the state contractor licensing board, labor boards, consumer protection agencies, or industrial regulatory agencies, depending on what your contractor failed to do.
5. Get a Second Opinion
Consult with a new contractor about the damage done and what will be needed to complete the work now. It may actually cost more if the next contractor will have to fix what was done wrong or start over again. Get a professional estimate in writing for court. And ask questions so that you fully understand what went wrong and can explain it professionally and calmly in court.
Following these few steps will bolster the strength of your argument no matter how far you need to take your case. Many homeowners find that with a powerful argument in their favor, they can convince a contractor to settle the issue outside a court. But you'll be prepared to go all the way if necessary. Start today by meeting with a civil law attorney in your state today.
My husband has worked in the construction industry for nearly twenty years. Three years ago, he decided to open his own business performing renovation work. Having so much experience helped him land clients and showed him that he has to protect himself from the clients that aren't so easy to please. We started working with an attorney in the beginning to have all of the contracts drawn up and have called when things go badly with clients. This blog will show you what you need to do to protect yourself from legal liabilities when you work as a contractor in today's world.