Disputes during construction and remodeling projects are common, from general breaches of contract to disputes over boundary lines and the quality of the work performed. Most home remodeling disputes can be resolved without the need for lawsuits, but it’s important to understand your legal options. The following is an in-depth look at the various types of disputes you may face during a construction project and how to resolve them.
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What is a breach of contract?
A breach of contract occurs when someone makes a promise that is legally binding, such as a written contract, and fails to fulfill their end of that promise. With respect to home remodels, these promises or agreements are typically included in the contract for the remodeling work. The four main types of contract breaches are:
- Anticipatory breach. This occurs when someone announces prior to the due date on the project that they will not fulfill their side of the agreement.
- Actual breach. An actual breach occurs when someone fails to fulfill their side of the contract.
- Material breach. This occurs when one party receives something significantly different than what was agreed upon. For example, a contractor was hired to build a three-seasons room, but instead built a covered patio.
- Minor breach. A minor breach or partial breach occurs when some part of the contract gets dropped, such as a missed deadline or a failed portion of the remodeling project.
If you feel that the contractor has committed one of these breaches, then you may have the right to file a claim. Even so, a breach may stem from an honest misunderstanding or otherwise may be resolved amicably just through communication.
What are some examples of zoning or property boundary disputes?
Property boundary disputes are quite common with large remodeling jobs. If one homeowner is expanding their home, and the expansion comes close to the property line, that neighbor may state that the expansion infringes on their own property line. These kinds of boundary disputes are often resolved by a friendly meeting between the two neighbors, but sometimes require a court’s intervention.
Zoning disputes can also happen during a remodeling project. This typically occurs when a commercial building impacts a residential area, or visa versa. Homeowners can file zone disputes with the construction company or commercial property owner because of problems such as:
- Parking areas too close to residential homes
- Construction obstructing the homeowner’s view
- Excess clutter from commercial signs
- Building too close to property line, creating a setback issue
- Noise, air, or water pollution near a residential area
Both zoning and boundary disputes may sometimes lead to a claim or other legal action to get the construction team or property owner to make some changes.
What can I do if the quality of work is subpar?
Shoddy craftsmanship is a common concern with home remodel projects. When you hire a contractor, you have the right to expect them to do a good job as agreed upon in your remodeling contract. If they fail to do so, then you may have the right to hold them accountable for breach of contract. The key will be having a carefully worded contract that shows your expectations for the completed job.
Can I file a home remodeling disputes claim for damaged property?
Unfortunately, sometimes in the course of their work, contractors can cause damage to your property, either because of poor work on their part or because of accidents. This can lead to another type of construction dispute.
For example, if a contractor carries a board into your home and turns too quickly, pushing the board through a window, you have the cost of a broken window to add to the overall cost of the project. Sometimes the damage can be even more serious, such as if the contractor digs a hole and hits a sewer line, causing a serious leak and damage to your landscaping. Most contractors will have insurance to protect against this, but what can you do if you find yourself without insurance protection and damaged property from a poorly executed remodel job?
First, check the terms of your own homeowner’s insurance. You may have coverage for your damages. However, check coverage limits carefully, as they may not cover all of the damages. If neither you nor your contractor have sufficient insurance to cover the damages, you may need to file a claim.
Protect Your Investment with Legal Know-How
Hiring a contractor is a major financial investment. Before you sign on the dotted line, you want the confidence that you’ll be getting quality service that will make your home or business better, not leave you with new problems. If you feel that the contractor is not fulfilling their duties, take some time to understand your rights in home remodeling disputes and consult with a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney if you need specific legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.