Author Topic: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?  (Read 4399 times)

john6221

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Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« on: August 12, 2014, 07:13:25 PM »
Just looking for some advice, or a push in the right direction...

My wife and I just purchased our first home. During the home inspection, we found some areas behind the shower tiles that were spongy and knew that water had leaked and that whatever had happened behind there would have to be addressed. We assumed it was rot but honestly couldn't start prying back there since it wasn't yet our home. We did a walk-through with a contractor, who put a bid on the job to fix the tiles and rot behind them. As part of the closing deal, we agreed to pay a small percentage of the bid, and the seller would pay the rest.

Fast forward to a week ago. I was replacing the floor in the bathroom and found that all of the rot had not been fixed. It would have been impossible for the contractor to have missed it during his work. So, I called him up, and he ADMITTED to seeing the rot and ignoring it. He also said that he wasn't allowed to tell me this during the process because of "legal reasons". I talked to my Realtor and she said that that was a lie.

So, I'm not really sure what recourse I have. In short, the summary is:
1. Contractor put bid in to fix bathroom rot
2. Contractor discovered during course of the job that it was going to be more extensive than he initially thought
3. Instead of contacting me and discussing options, contractor covered up rot and left it and later claimed that he wasn't allowed to tell me about it


What do you all think?  Do I have legal resource, or do I just have a complaint with the BBB?

Thanks. 

Doomspark

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2014, 05:57:59 AM »
Laws vary from country to country and state to state.  Where are you located?

AlanStache

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2014, 06:13:58 AM »
I might not rely on a Realtors knowledge of the law, and would try to verify independently. 

Also you need to evaluate if this is worth your time to fight, it might very well be worth hiring a lawyer or trying to forget about and learning to do the repair work yourself.

As a general note I have learned that I want to the be one hiring and directly paying anyone working on my property.  Had an issue with a heating repair covered by home 'insurance' that went south and I could not fire them because I was not paying them. 

former player

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2014, 06:16:56 AM »
So, the contractor made an offer (to you?) to do the work.  Who accepted the bid?  Did you pay the contractor direct or did you pay the seller?  The problem here is working out who the contract to do the work was made between.  If you did not pay the contractor direct, then probably the contract was between the contractor and the seller.  In that case, you have no recourse against the contractor.

If you paid the seller, you probably have a contract with the seller.  But what were the terms of that contract?  If it was "a certain sum of money pays for an agreed amount of work", you have no recourse as long as the contractor did the work contracted for.  If the terms of the contract were "a certain sum of money remedies all the rot", you have a claim against the seller, and either the seller and/or the seller and contractor between them should have taken the loss of doing the extra work.  BUT 1) you have to prove this, which is likely to be difficult unless you have it all in writing, and 2) honestly, if you can live with the cost of putting it right, or live with not putting it right until you have the money, you have better options than trying to get recourse through the law.  You cannot overestimate how expensive litigation is, firstly in money, but secondly and more importantly in time, energy, stress and diversion from the better things in life.

WARNING: you don't say what legal jurisdiction you are in, so the law may well be different where you are.  I've just given you the basic common law position.

Short of taking action, you can either write to the seller yourself, or get your estate agent to talk to the seller or the seller's estate agent, to try to get some sort of remedy.

Lesson for next time is: either get the cost of the renovations taken off the price and arrange them yourself, or get a contractor you trust to do the work and inspect it before signing off on the purchase.

MandyM

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2014, 06:18:10 AM »
I'm not sure what recourse you have, but realize that the contractor may only be liable for the portion of his work that would have to be re-done.

Who was the contractor working for? The seller? Did he tell the seller about the rot and the seller told him to leave it? If so, they may be the ones you have an issue with.

tweezers

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2014, 08:51:09 AM »
Look into what your title insurance covers.  Its almost guaranteed that it was part of your purchase/closing costs, and may cover you for these damages.  My mother was awarded a rather large sum through her title insurance when it was found that there was an un-permitted renovation on a house she purchased (discovered during another renovation, but more significant repairs were needed to the structure).  She didn't have to go to court to sue the sellers.....she just filed a claim and an adjuster came out.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2014, 09:29:25 AM »
What exactly did your contract say?  Did it specify "entire bathroom"?  If it said "bathroom wall", I don't see how you have any recourse.  Even if it did say "entire bathroom", I doubt the legal costs of litigation exceed the cost of the additional work.

Jack

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2014, 09:40:59 AM »
You cannot overestimate how expensive litigation is, firstly in money, but secondly and more importantly in time, energy, stress and diversion from the better things in life.

I doubt the legal costs of litigation exceed the cost of the additional work.

Isn't this the kind of thing small claims court is for?

Cpa Cat

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2014, 10:01:32 AM »
If you do pursue this, you will probably want to name both the seller and the contractor as co-defendants.

Numbers Man

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Re: Do I have legal recourse against this contractor?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2014, 10:14:33 AM »
How much would repairs cost to fix the bathroom? If it's relatively small then have another contractor fix it. Yeah, the contractor was wrong in what he did, but sometimes it's better to make a business decision and move on and get it fixed by another contractor.

Just brainstorming here -  How about telling the original contractor you won't sue him if he fixes what needs fixing for a small amount of money (cost of materials) and then watch his work like a hawk.