What to do when you have a owner-contractor lawsuit

Contractor – owner disputes are common lawsuits heard in small claims court and must be commenced and defended with caution.

Generally owner can sue a contractor for demonstrably shoddy construction, misrepresentation or fraud. The latter two could apply if the builder lies or deceives you about the quality or method of construction in order to hide cheap materials or sloppy work.

To calculate an award for any kind of building deficiencies, courts will consider two things:

  • Diminution of market value (in other words, does the construction reduce the value of your home?)
  • Cost of repairs

Courts will award repair costs if two conditions are met:

  • The costs are reasonable under the circumstances;
  • The owner has, or clearly intends to repair the work.

Absent an express term as to standards of workmanship, it is an implied term of a construction contract that the contractor will exercise the standard of care and skill to be expected of a competent contractor in the industry: Ivan’s Renovations Ltd. vs Arabsky.

A written contract between owner-contractor should include:

  • A detailed list of all the work being done;
  • Information on any subcontractors being hired;
  • Total project cost including taxes;
  • The start and end dates;
  • Responsibility for cleanup;
  • Names and address of the contractor and homeowner.

In should be noted that the judge searches for certain evidence necessary to advance a claim.Some of this evidence may include: photos, videos, agreements, proof of payment and inspection reports.At times, evidence is no longer available and the claim’s fail because parties to the claim failed to obtain necessary evidence, this usually occurs when the owner decides to repair damages prior to consulting with a legal firm. For those reasons, it is a good idea call (647) 270 – 0811″ for consultation prior to commencing repairs, this way evidence may be saved.

A contractor claim/defence may succeed if the proper evidence is in brought forward. In this case Royal Paving v. Marshall, a contractor was supposed to repair and extend some paved asphalt, but extended it in the wrong place, causing drainage problems. However, the judge said the error was slight enough that it didn’t cause diminution of the property and also said that, since 18 months had elapsed, it was clear the homeowner had no intention of repairing it himself.

In another case,Strata Corp. NW 1714 v. Winkler: a contractor installed a too-thin concrete floor, which began cracking. The business owners sought repair costs to have the work done entirely from scratch, asking for $170,000 (the entire building had only cost $200,000 to construct). The court disagreed, saying the cracks could simply be patched and waterproofed at the far more reasonable cost of $12,000.

Let our firm develop your strategy and if you have any questions along the way, remember that our firm is here to offer you  expert legal advice for your matter.

Call us today to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced paralegals.