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September 17, 2012

The Law and Your Home

Remodeling and the Law

What can I do if the contractor violates the contract?

If you believe there has been a contract violation, first bring the matter to the attention of the contractor with a telephone call or conversation. For example, if you came home from work one day and found that the new picture window was in the wrong place, call the contractor immediately. To protect yourself, make a note of the conversation, summarizing your concerns and any agreements, and send it to him. Keep a copy yourself. Next, ask your lawyer to write a letter stating your concerns and asking for the correction.

If that doesn't work, check to see if your contract specifies alternative dispute resolution (ADR)—that is, mediation or arbitration. That means you and the contractor will have agreed to call in a mutually acceptable third party to resolve the dispute without going to court. If your contract does not specify ADR, your initial letter and the lawyer's letter will provide you with a base for further action with a consumer-protection agency or a lawsuit, possibly in small claims court.

Either way, your options are to push for "specific performance" of the contract, which means forcing the remodeler to do the work as agreed, or for the remodeler to pay any extra costs you incur by having someone else do it.

>>Which federal laws are applicable to remodeling projects?
>>What protection do I have once I sign a contract?
>>What kind of state and local laws apply to contractors?
>>What's the best way to guard against swindlers?
>>How do I find a reputable contractor?
>>Should I have a written contract with the contractor?
>>What should the contract include?
>>What should I watch out for when the job begins?
>>What can I do if the contractor violates the contract?

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