San Diego Home Improvement Contracts Lawyer
California construction attorney advises homeowners on noncomplying home improvement contracts
If you are a homeowner considering a home remodel, it pays to know your rights before you enter into a contract and your available remedies should something go wrong. It’s an unfortunate fact that predatory contractors exist, and they take full advantage of the average homeowner’s unfamiliarity with construction and the applicable law. What sounds like a great deal at the outset can produce stress, heartache and unnecessary financial losses down the line. So, before you agree to any home remodel, consult the Law Office of Edward W. Freedman. With more than 15 years of industry-specific legal experience, I protect the rights of homeowners in San Diego and throughout Southern California by offering cost-effective, pertinent advice and aggressive representation that delivers positive results.
The California Business and Professions Code protects consumers’ rights
The Business and Professions Code (BPC) lists in detail the specific requirements for home remodel contracts based on the price of the contract. Your first right as a consumer is to know what you’re agreeing to, so the written contract must be legible and in the language that you and the contractor use to discuss the agreement. The contract must give the contractor’s license number and clearly state the specifics of the job you are requesting, including:
- Contract price
- Down payment (limited to the lesser of $1,000 or 10 percent of the contract price)
- Approximate dates of start and finish
- Scope of the work and the materials to be used
- Payment schedule
- Instructions on extra work and change orders
- List of documents to be incorporated into the contract
The contract must also give you notice of the following rights:
- Your right to have the contractor post a payment and performance bond
- Your right to know if your contractor carries liability and workers’ compensation insurance
- Information concerning a mechanic’s lien
- Your right to cancel within three days
- Your right to cancel within seven days if the work ordered is to repair residential property damaged by a sudden, catastrophic event
Lower value home repair contract remedies
If your contract is for a home repair valued at $750 or less, California Bus & Prof Code § 7159.10 gives you additional rights, included expanded rights to cancel up to the date you received a copy of the contract and the contractor has begun work. You can even cancel the contract after work has begun under certain circumstances:
- The total price of the contract is actually more than $750.
- You did not initiate contact with the contractor to request the work.
- The contractor sold goods and services over and above what is necessary to complete the work.
- The payment is due before work is complete or the contractor accepts any payment before the work is complete.
These are only some of your consumer rights under state construction law. My office provides detailed evaluations based on your specific home remodel project.
Remedies available for a breach of construction contract in California
Unfortunately, many contractors promising cut-rate prices perform shoddy work that must be repaired. In California, you can sue for construction defects within 10 years of the work’s completion. Available remedies include:
- Direct damages —The loss in value of your property due to the deficient work or the reasonable cost of correcting the problem.
- Consequential damages — Additional losses that were reasonably foreseeable in light of the deficient work.
- Punitive damages — In rare cases where there is evidence the contractor committed fraud in the execution of the contract, a court can order exemplary damages. For example, if a contractor deliberately used substandard materials to increase his profit, the court could order additional payments as punishment.
Although these damages are available, the practical reality is that shoddy contractors are often fly-by-night operations with limited ability to pay a judgment. The consumer is always better off consulting an attorney before work begins and thoroughly vetting the contractor with the Better Business Bureau before agreeing to have work done.
Contact a San Diego construction lawyer who protects consumers’ rights
The Law Office of Edward W. Freedman provides reliable guidance to homeowners on contracts for remodels and repairs. Call me today at 858-223-7259 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation. My office is located at 4540 Kearny Villa Road, just off Route 163 at the Balboa Avenue exit.