Can You Sue a Contractor for Using Substandard Materials?
Our California construction disputes attorneys can provide assistance if you are involved in a conflict with a contractor who is doing a construction project for you. Many different things can go wrong during the course of a construction project which can impact your investment if you are a property owner. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide assistance negotiating a detailed contract with a builder or contractor who will be performing the work in order to maximize the chances the project will go smoothly.
One of the key issues that can occur which impacts the outcome of a finished construction project is when a contractor substitutes in a different – and often lower quality – material. Avoiding the substitution of substandard materials is important and Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide assistance in negotiating detailed contracts to ensure quality materials are used.
We can also provide help taking legal action when a contractor fails to use the specified materials or uses a material that is inadequate for the job being performed.
When Can You See for Using Substandard Materials
Your rights when a builder utilizes a substandard material in a construction project will vary depending upon the agreement you have with the contractor as well as depending upon the impact that occurs as a result of the contractor’s choice of materials.
If you have a detailed construction contract which specifies the nature, brand, type, or quality of materials that a contractor must use for a particular project, the contractor must abide by the terms of that contract. If a change needs to be made, all parties to the agreement should sign off on the change in material selection and a written update to the contract should be made. If the contractor simply substitutes in different materials without the consent of the other contracting party, this could be considered a breach of contract.
Whether the breach is a material breach or not, and the remedies available, will vary depending upon the specifics of the substitution. If the contractor’s choice of replacement materials renders the completed project substantially different than what was contracted for, then the breach may be considered a material one. Potential remedies could include monetary damages for actual losses caused by the material substitution or, in some cases, specific performance – which would mean the contractor would need to complete the project as agreed upon using the specified materials.
If a construction contract does not specifically detail the types or nature of materials that must be used in a finished project, this does not mean that the contractor cannot still be sued for using substandard material. It may be more difficult to prove that the contractor has acted wrongfully since you cannot simply make a breach of contract claim – you will need to identify another legal basis for making a case against a contractor who you feel used a lower quality material than was appropriate.
There are typically both express and implied warranties with construction projects, and California Civil Code section 900 specifies that a builder must provide home buyers with a minimum of a one-year express warranty covering the fit and finish of certain building components such as cabinets, exterior walls, countertops, and paint finishes. Express warranties are written and spelled out clearly. Implied warranties are warranties created by law, such as a warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or a warranty of merchantability.
If you believe that the choice of materials the contractor made is in violation of a warranty because it makes the property unsafe, unfit for use, or inadequate in terms of fit and finish, it is possible to make a breach of warranty claim. It will be your burden to prove the contractor failed to fulfill some obligation he had in regards to the work that was performed.
If the choice of materials puts you at risk of harm or causes actual injury, such as if a contractor substitutes in a low-quality drywall with mold problems that causes respiratory issues, then you may also have grounds to make a claim for damages due to the use of the inadequate and unsafe building materials.
Getting Help from an Irvine Construction Disputes Attorney
Our California construction disputes attorneys at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can offer you assistance with the process of negotiating a construction contract or can help when problems with your contract arise. To find out more about the ways in which our legal team can help you, give us a call at 866-237-8129 or contact us online today.