Emily Thomas and Amir Khalil are first-time homebuyers. They were drawn to a specific community in South Lamar, and this decision led to the purchase of a home that needed remodeling.
Unfortunately for this couple, they chose a nightmare of a general contractor to complete the job. By his own admission, the contractor mismanaged the work and the funds. He spent the money that Thomas and Khalil paid him, but failed to buy the necessary materials, and he didn't pay his subcontractors. The couple is left holding the bag.
Further complicating the situation is their realization that there is no governing agency to turn to. If you have issues with contractors and the work they did or didn't complete, do you know the laws governing these defects?
Breach of Contract
In Texas, one way to address construction defects is via breach of contract or a breach of promise litigation. When you hire a builder, developer, or general contractor to build a new home or remodel an existing one, there is lots of paperwork. You enter into contractual agreements with the service provider that detail the job, what will be provided, materials, design, payments, and much more.
If you realize something is wrong after the work is completed, you can sue the contractor for not providing you with what he contractually promised. This covers a lot of issues, from inferior materials to failing to follow the agreed-upon building design or floor plan. Bear in mind that you have four years to file your claim. This is the state's statute of limitation for contract breach lawsuits. Exceptions may apply if you failed to reasonably discover the detect right away. Your attorney can help you determine if this tolling exception applies.
Another method of handling a construction defect is suing under home-construction negligence. This means that you are claiming that your contractor did not exercise the right standard of care when remodeling or building your home. This approach has a shorter statute of limitation of only two years, but the discovery doctrine applies here too.
You need to demonstrate the following to prove your negligence claim.
- The law establishes a specific duty on the contractor.
- Your contractor did not meet that duty.
- His failure to meet the standard actually caused the construction defect you are claiming.
- You experienced economic damage because of the defect.
Many construction contracts include specific clauses that address potential conflicts that could lead to litigation. These are called dispute resolution clauses, and they may require that you go to mediation or arbitration instead of suing your contractor. They may also include language that shortens the time you have to file a defect claim. Construction defect lawsuits are only one of several ways that consumers can assert their rights through civil litigation. Contract disputes arise in many other areas, such as business claims and real estate matters. When a party to a contract fails to uphold their part of the bargain, litigation can force their hand. If you've been injured by the careless or willful actions of another, you can sue the responsible party in court for damages. Family law and estate planning law often turn to civil litigation, as well. This approach can help to resolve contested probate claims, guardianship issues, contentious divorces, and tough child custody cases. Civil litigation is often a necessity in most areas of law. A savvy and experienced Texas civil litigation attorney is instrumental in helping you resolve contested legal issues, and obtain the results that you require.
Sources: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2016/07/lack-contractor-oversight-leaves-texas-homeowners-unprotected/, http://realestate.findlaw.com/construction-defects/legal-liability-for-construction-defects.html