Have you encountered a problem with your contractor based on the quality of their workmanship or their breach of your agreement? When homeowners feel out of their depth, many times they hire the help of a contractor to perform renovation or repair work on their homes. However, what happens when something goes wrong? If a dispute arises between you and your contractor, it usually arises out of several common reasons: lack of quality workmanship, delays, results that are not in accordance with agreed upon plans, defective installations, or disagreements over the terms of the contract.
What recourse do you have, as a homeowner, when you feel like you aren’t getting what you paid for? Several options are available, and their use typically depends on how much money is at stake. One useful tool for homeowners in North Carolina is a legal concept known as Accord and Satisfaction. In North Carolina, if there is a genuine, bona fide dispute between two parties to a contract, the paying party may submit a payment that is “in full satisfaction” of any debt or payment owed. If the receiving party knowingly deposits such payment, they can no longer try to obtain any further payment from the paying party.
For instance, if you had a dispute with a contractor where the workmanship of the finished product was genuinely below standard, and the contract price for the finished work was $5,000, you, as the homeowner, could attempt to pay less than that amount, in good faith, with what you believe to be a reasonable amount for the work actually performed and the results actually obtained. If your payment was conspicuously and obviously marked with writing that such a payment was to be considered in full satisfaction of your debt under the contract, and the contractor accepted and deposited such a payment knowing that the payment contained such limiting language, your debt under the contract could be considered paid in full.
For more expensive renovations or for wholly new construction, actions for breach of contract are more likely to occur. If a contractor has materially breached a term of your contract, you likely have the option to sue to either recover the money that it will cost someone else to fix the problem, or to force the original contractor to perform properly under the contract. Often, courts are wary about forcing people to perform certain actions, even if those actions defined under the contract. Instead, courts will calculate the amount of damage the breach has caused to you, and will award you with that amount in money. This way, you only end up paying for the results you received, and you can use the money to fix the problem that caused the breach of contract.
Many of these disputes can lead contentious negotiations before turning into litigation. If you are having a dispute with a contractor, it is a good idea to contact an attorney before taking any action that could limit your rights, cost you more money, or create legal consequences against you such as laborer’s or materialmen’s liens. Contact the attorneys at Miller Law Group today for a consultation if you are having a dispute and are unsure which potential remedies could work best for you and your construction project.