When you hire a contractor to renovate your home, there are certain obligations that they must fulfill under the terms of the contract you both sign. Unfortunately, sometimes things go south in a hurry and your contractor might fall far short of the mark on your home renovations.
What's a homeowner to do? One option is to litigate the matter in the California civil court system. But there may be a far easier and cheaper way to resolve the matter.
Communicate with your contractor
Was the contractual breach a result of shoddy workmanship on the part of the contractor or did the two of you simply have a misunderstanding that was never resolved? If it was the latter, a frank and civil discussion between you and the errant contractor could get the project back on track without further delays.
But if it's the former or the contractor is dodging your calls, this method is not likely to produce the results you desire.
Document your case
If you suspect that your contractor breached your agreement, that gives you the grounds to fire him or her. But if the case winds up in court, you will need to present solid evidence that backs up your allegations. Before taking any legal action, take photos that show how your contractor missed the mark.
Photos of the faulty construction can speak volumes in court. Make sure that your pictures clearly show the alleged problems with the contractor's work and have a timestamp on them.
Send a certified letter
Before you can legally file suit in such matters, you must first attempt to get the contractor to rectify the alleged problem. This is done by detailing each breach and failure to live up to the contractual obligations. You must then send this letter certified and wait for a response.
Alert your attorney
While some homeowners may send their own certified letters, it is at this point that the disgruntled clients often seek legal advice. A Los Angeles construction defect attorney is well aware of the tricks contractors may use to avoid accepting liability for any flaws in their work and may be able to prevent them from dragging out the litigation process.
Re-check your contract
Before filing suit, re-read the terms of the contract to make sure that the matter doesn't have to be settled via arbitration. Some contracts contain binding arbitration clauses. That means that the parties agreed to resolve any disputes that arise through arbitration and not litigation.
This is a cheaper alternative dispute resolution where the two sides make their respective cases in front of an independent arbitrator instead of a judge or jury.
Should you leave bad reviews?
Social media sites like Yelp and websites like Angieslist.com provide forums for disgruntled clients to vent their anger at contractors who failed to live up to their contractual promises. The bad news is the posts could bring a libel lawsuit. While truth is always a defense to libel, the truth can be quite subjective in these type of cases. Letting your attorney take the lead in resolving the matter is typically wiser.