Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog should be interpreted as a substitute for professional advice from an attorney practicing in your community. Only local counsel can appreciate the business and legal environment under which a construction contract is drafted, negotiated and executed. Gary W. Moselle represents Craftsman Book Company, publisher of Construction Contract Writer.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog should be interpreted as a substitute for professional advice from an attorney practicing in your community. Only local counsel can appreciate the business and legal environment under which a construction contract is drafted, negotiated and executed. Gary W. Moselle represents Craftsman Book Company, publisher of Construction Contract Writer.

Ty and Carissa Schott planned to add a pool in the back yard of their Allegheny County Pennsylvania home. Country Pools bid $53,160 for the work and got the job. The Schotts advanced $26,580 as a deposit. To get their backyard ready for the pool, the Schotts paid separate contractors over $20,000 to install a retaining wall and perimeter fence.

Before signing the contract, the Schotts asked Country Pools whether permits were required from their municipality, Franklin Park Borough. Country Pools suggested that “no permits would be necessary until installation of the swimming pool.” After completion of the retaining wall, the Schotts applied for their permits. Surprise! Franklin Park’s zoning regulations prohibit construction of their swimming pool. The Schotts applied for a zoning variance. No luck. Application denied. The Schotts weren’t going to get their pool.

The Schotts demanded a full refund, including money spent on the retaining wall, fence and permit fees. County Pools refunded $20,429 but refused to refund the remaining $6,151.

The Schotts filed suit and made three claims: (more…)

Ty and Carissa Schott planned to add a pool in the back yard of their Allegheny County Pennsylvania home. Country Pools bid $53,160 for the work and got the job. The Schotts advanced $26,580 as a deposit. To get their backyard ready for the pool, the Schotts paid separate contractors over $20,000 to install a […]

More on HomeAdvisor (ANGI)

If you’re a residential contractor, you’ve probably been solicited by HomeAdvisor, better known as Angi or Angi’s List. HomeAdvisor was back in the news last week. A federal court certified a class of “service providers” authorized to bring suit against HomeAdvisor. If you’ve paid HomeAdvisor for annual membership or leads in the last 20 years, you may have skin in this game. But don’t expect a windfall from the suit. I’ll explain. (more…)

More on HomeAdvisor (ANGI) If you’re a residential contractor, you’ve probably been solicited by HomeAdvisor, better known as Angi or Angi’s List. HomeAdvisor was back in the news last week. A federal court certified a class of “service providers” authorized to bring suit against HomeAdvisor. If you’ve paid HomeAdvisor for annual membership or leads in […]

Every Contract Every Contract Requires a Meeting of the Minds

Dr. Julie Clark, a Tennessee veterinarian, wanted to fix up her home before selling. After a meeting on site, Dr. Clark selected Jeffrey Givens, a handyman, to do the work.

According to Dr. Clark, she agreed to pay Givens $9,775 for a total of four tasks:

Givens didn’t remember it that way. He remembered bidding $11,575 for the entire job, including work on the driveway and garage floor, painting and replacing handrails on the porch. Dr. Clark admitted asking for a quote on that extra work. But Dr. Clark insisted none of this extra work was authorized.

Dr. Clark hoped the work would be finished in two weeks. But she didn’t specify a deadline or completion date. Givens estimated six-weeks would be needed just for painting the inside of the house. But his understanding was he could take as much time as necessary to do a good job.

Dr. Clark kept detailed notes on their conversation and the bid price. But there was no written contract. You know what’s going to happen next. When the job ran off the rails, Dr. Clark and Givens launched a 7-year court battle. Here’s how it happened. (more…)

Every Contract Requires a Meeting of the Minds Dr. Julie Clark, a Tennessee veterinarian, wanted to fix up her home before selling. After a meeting on site, Dr. Clark selected Jeffrey Givens, a handyman, to do the work. According to Dr. Clark, she agreed to pay Givens $9,775 for a total of four tasks: $8,500 […]

Get Reimbursed for Your Attorney Fees: Dianne Lee bought a new home in Contra Costs County, just east of San Francisco Bay. Her new house didn’t have a pool. And she wanted some exterior improvements. Dianne selected David Cardiff of Advantage Pools Bay Area to do the work: a pool and spa for $88,400, a pavilion with outdoor kitchen, fireplace and landscaping for $143,000.

It didn’t go well. After a dispute, Cardiff stopped work and walked off the job.

Dianne filed suit, claiming Cardiff’s work was defective. The trial court rejected most of Dianne’s claims about the pool but agreed with some of her claims about the pavilion and landscaping. The court also agreed that Cardiff had violated state law by hiring workers as unlicensed independent contractors and not employees. The court ordered Cardiff to refund $238,470 plus contract and tort damages of $236,634. Of that, $35,000 was for defects in the pool.

Dianne won the case. But the court didn’t award reimbursement of her attorney fees. That was a surprise. California Business and Professions Code § 7168 authorizes an award of attorney fees to the “prevailing party” on swimming pool claims. Claims on other types of construction don’t qualify for an award of attorney fees — absent specific language in the contract. Dianne’s contract with Cardiff didn’t say anything about attorney fees.

Dianne appealed the trial court decision, asking for an award of attorney fees. The appellate court had to decide: (more…)

Get Reimbursed for Your Attorney Fees: Dianne Lee bought a new home in Contra Costs County, just east of San Francisco Bay. Her new house didn’t have a pool. And she wanted some exterior improvements. Dianne selected David Cardiff of Advantage Pools Bay Area to do the work: a pool and spa for $88,400, a […]

When a job goes bad, you better have a good contract. That’s a point emphasized many times on these pages.

But a New York case decided last month offers an interesting twist on this theme. When a Syracuse, NY job went south, the contractor claimed the agreement he drafted was void and unenforceable. Let’s see how a New York appellate court handled that. Hint: It cost the contractor plenty. The case is White Knight Construction v. Haugh.

Holly Anne Haugh of Madison County, NY wanted a new custom home. Kenneth Kovalewski of White Knight Construction agreed to build the home Holly Anne wanted. Kenny drafted the agreement, including a “New Home Cost Breakdown” listing both projected and actual expenses. The contract price was $93,287. But it wasn’t that simple. According to the court, Holly Anne and Kenny developed a “romantic relationship” before breaking ground.

This blog is about good and bad construction contracts. I’ll leave other issues to your judgment. (more…)

When a job goes bad, you better have a good contract. That’s a point emphasized many times on these pages. But a New York case decided last month offers an interesting twist on this theme. When a Syracuse, NY job went south, the contractor claimed the agreement he drafted was void and unenforceable. Let’s see […]

Construction Contract Writer - State Specific Construction ContractsFrank Salame owns a home in Pomona, California. Eleven months out of the year, Frank works in Lebanon as an engineer on building projects. When no one is home in Pomona, Frank has a friend, Antoinette Auon, look after his house.

While Frank was in Lebanon, neighbors noticed a liquid leaking from under the garage door. Turns out, a water filter under the kitchen sink had sprung a leak. By the time Frank got word of what had happened, water had seeped into kitchen cabinets, flooring, down walls and into the ceiling of the garage below. Mold was blooming everywhere.

Because he was in Lebanon, Frank asked his friend, Antoinette, to “take care of” the problem. She did, signing contracts with Star Restoration to put Frank’s home back in livable condition.

Star Restoration got to work. A plumber removed the leaking water filter. A mold expert assessed what had to go. When contaminated materials had been removed, restoration started: framing, sheetrock, plaster, painting, tile floor in the kitchen, kitchen cabinets, new countertop and sink.

Meanwhile, Frank filed a claim with his insurance carrier, giving Antoinette “full power of attorney to handle” his claim. Frank collected $28,000 from the insurance company. But when Star Restoration sent their invoice for $42,360, Frank refused to pay. Instead, he offered to settle for $28,000. Star refused the offer and filed suit.

You decide. Did Frank owe the full $42,360? (more…)

Frank Salame owns a home in Pomona, California. Eleven months out of the year, Frank works in Lebanon as an engineer on building projects. When no one is home in Pomona, Frank has a friend, Antoinette Auon, look after his house. While Frank was in Lebanon, neighbors noticed a liquid leaking from under the garage […]

Laura and Daniel Holland wanted a custom home built on their Pocomoke City, Maryland dairy farm. They selected an architect to draw plans for a 3,912 SF residence. After several rounds of negotiations and changes, Don Littleton of Wicked Professional Services Inc. (WPS) agreed to build the house for $700,250. Don emailed Ms. Holland a construction contract created from a template on RocketLawyer.com. The Hollands signed the agreement. Work was to be completed by May 16, 2018.

If you know anything about Maryland construction contracts, you can see trouble coming. (more…)

Laura and Daniel Holland wanted a custom home built on their Pocomoke City, Maryland dairy farm. They selected an architect to draw plans for a 3,912 SF residence. After several rounds of negotiations and changes, Don Littleton of Wicked Professional Services Inc. (WPS) agreed to build the house for $700,250. Don emailed Ms. Holland a […]

Every contractor knows the temptation: use cash from job A to cover expenses on job B. That’s called diversion of funds. It’s perfectly legal in some states and a crime in others. But it’s not good business in any state. The Massachusetts case of Damian Anketell illustrates my point. (more…)

Every contractor knows the temptation: use cash from job A to cover expenses on job B. That’s called diversion of funds. It’s perfectly legal in some states and a crime in others. But it’s not good business in any state. The Massachusetts case of Damian Anketell illustrates my point.

What does your standard contract say about interest on late payments? If little or nothing, you may be making an expensive mistake. Here’s an example. (more…)

What does your standard contract say about interest on late payments? If little or nothing, you may be making an expensive mistake. Here’s an example.

Craftsman’s National Estimator Cloud includes 10 costbooks which are updated quarterly. Here’s a partial summary of recent costbook-specific updates.

CONSTRUCTION, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated:

 

ELECTRICAL, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated:

 

IMPROVEMENT, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated:

 

INSURANCE, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated:

 

PLUMBING, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated:

 

REPAIR, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated:

 

PAINTING, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated:

 

 

Craftsman’s National Estimator Cloud includes 10 costbooks which are updated quarterly. Here’s a partial summary of recent costbook-specific updates. CONSTRUCTION, JULY 2022 — sections (and pages) updated: OSB  (203) Plywood (202-204, 460) Carpentry (32-37, 39-51, 56-57, 61-62, 67, 98-100, 283, 331, 389-397, 403, 476, 591, 593) Concrete Formwork (87-89, 93, 338-346, 352-353, 360, 363-369, 377-378) Framing […]