Home Contractor Disputes Attorneys in Los Angeles, California
California homeowners know that, even with the more recently constructed buildings, problems can arise that need to be repaired, or you may just want to upgrade specific features.
There can be plumbing and electrical problems that need fixing, or you get tired of the downstairs bathtub. As a result, you find a plumbing or electrical contractor to fix the problem, or you contact a bathroom contractor to install a new bathtub.
Along the way, however, something doesn’t appear right. The one-week bathroom job runs on for three weeks and still isn’t finished. The electrical fix doesn’t work right, and you’ve already paid the contractor. What can you do? Are there legal remedies available short of filing a lawsuit?
If you’re in a dispute with a home contractor in or around Los Angeles, California, or throughout Los Angeles County, including Pasadena, Glendale, and West Covina, contact Gomez Law, APC. The team of real estate attorneys at Gomez Law APC will listen to your story, evaluate the circumstances, and advise you of your options.
Hiring a Contractor
You may be eyeing home remodeling, painting, paving, roofing, or electrical services, but taking on a contractor, whether an individual or a company, to update or repair your home can be expensive. Don’t make a hasty choice.
The California Department of Justice advises homeowners to get multiple bids before embarking on a remodeling or repair job. According to state law, anyone performing home improvement work valued at $500 or more is required to be licensed by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and be bonded and insured.
With an unlicensed contractor, the Department warns that “the quality of the work may be poor and you may end up paying more if your home is damaged, the work is incomplete or faulty, or if a worker is injured.” When the contractor is bonded and insured, you have added legal protections and resources for fixing the problem or being compensated.
What Are Contractor Disputes?
Disputes with contractors can assume various forms. The costs of the job may rise higher than initially agreed upon. The work may take longer than you anticipated or were promised. The workmanship could be shoddy, or the materials or products used were not of the quality you were told they would be.
Workers might show up high or drunk, and you fear an injury could result. Even the color of the paint being used on the exterior of your residence is not what you specified. Disputes can arise over issues both big and somewhat minor.
There are also instances of homeowners being defrauded. Typical examples include someone who knocks on your door, says he noticed you needed new fencing, a new driveway, or something else, and offers to do it on the cheap. You pay a deposit – or worse, the whole price – and then never see the person again.
A variation of this is a contractor who offers to do a free inspection and then discovers problems or defects that need fixing because, if you don’t, something bad might happen like an electrical fire, a leaking roof, or a sewage blockage. You fall for the scare tactics and pay for the unnecessary repair.
California Rules Affecting
California laws protect consumers who enter into contracts by giving them the right to rescission, in other words, the right to cancel the contract, generally within three days. The California Home Solicitation Sales Act is one such statute. For any transaction over $25 that is agreed to either in the buyer’s home or outside the seller’s place of business, the consumer can cancel within three days.
The federal Truth in Lending Act also provides a three-day cancellation right for homeowners who are financing improvements that result in the assumption of a security interest in the buyer’s home. California’s Business and Professions Code section 7163 offers homebuyers a similar rescission right.
In addition, homeowners may be able to cancel a transaction if their consent was obtained through fraud, mistake, duress, or undue influence, or if the deal fails in some major way through no fault of the buyer.
Remedial and Legal Options Available
If you’re in a dispute with a contractor, your first recourse is to read the contract to understand your rights and the contractor’s obligations. Of course, you should have done this before signing the contract, but double-checking is also crucial. The next step is to communicate and negotiate with the contractor to see if the two of you can resolve the situation.
If your negotiations break down or lead to an impasse, your next best – and best low-cost option – is mediation. Mediation is conducted by a third-party independent professional who will listen to both sides and try to get the parties to agree to a mutually acceptable resolution. However, mediation is not binding. In the end, both homeowner and contractor must sign off on any agreement.
The next step might be arbitration. Arbitration is a more formal process of alternative dispute resolution. The proceedings resemble a court trial but with relaxed standards of evidence. In the end, the arbitrator will issue a binding resolution. Because of the length and complexity of the proceedings, the arbitration will cost more than mediation but probably less than filing a lawsuit.
Your final option is to file a lawsuit. If your dispute is $10,000 or under, you can file in small claims court, where you can represent yourself and state your case. If your claim is over the small claims monetary limit, you may file a case in a superior court. Of course, for either type of claim, the contractor might choose to counter sue, which complicates matters significantly.
Home Contractor Disputes Attorneys Serving Los Angeles, California
The best route for disputes is to resolve matters between the two of you – homeowner and contractor – but to do this, the help of an experienced real estate attorney is essential. If you’re a homeowner in Los Angeles, California, involved in a dispute with a contractor, contact Gomez Law, APC. The firm’s experienced attorneys can help you seek resolution through whatever means is necessary, from negotiations to legal action.