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Question DetailsAsked on 1/10/2018

Contractor did not get a permit for foundation and its wrong. Its a tiny home, and it should have been a stem wall.

He put it on blocks, and now the project can't move forward. Should I only pay for materials? I would have to have everything he did removed, building pulled back and stem wall foundation installed. This is a big mistake not getting a permit! I paid him 60% down, and now he is pressing me for the rest. Can I take him to small claims court? Its because of his mistake I have to pay more money to get it right. I feel I shouldn't have to pay him for a big mistake. What do you think?

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1 Answer


Did you have a design, or was he supposed to get that done too - because if you live in an area where a building permit is required, almsot certainly would also require a design from a licensed architect or engineer to get the permit in the first place. This assumes you did not have an architect on the contract - who should have caught the foundation error, so you might have a claim against him for professional negligence if you did have one designing the project UNLESS his scope was specifically limited to the building itself, not the foundation.

You should owe him NOTHING for the job to date, if he did it without a design and permit. This assumes you did not specifically tell him how to do the foundation, and that he does not have a legitimate argument that he thought it was backyard playhouse or shed, which would not require a formal foundation if under a certain size (commonly 100 or 120SF). If you just told him you want a say 10x12 foundation put in your yard, without any discussion of it being for a tiny home, he might be able to argue he thought you were building a shed (maybe a storage shed for materials preparatory to a house construction on the same lot), so he might have an out there if he had no indication this was for a home.

While you could sue him (small claims if amount is under the small claims limit for your state) or in regular civil claims court otherwise, the first step would be to file a claim with his Bonding company to get the job redone correctly at no added cost to you. (He was licensed, bonded, and insured - right ?) You may or may not need to get an attorney on board to get that pushed through - some bonding companies are pretty fair, some play the game of yeah, we will issue insurance (which bonding is basically a form of) but don't expect up to play any claims.

Other pressure you could put on him though it will not (in most states) directly get you any remedy but may pressure him to do the job right to make the basis of your complaint go away, is to file a complaint with the city/county/state (whichever one or more applies) if he is operating without a valid business license, and with the state contractor licensing board if home building / general contractors are required to be licensed in your state. The latter complaint whether or not he is actually licensed - if licensed they can suspend or pull his license for this sort of thing, if not licensd they can go after him for doing contracting without a license.

In a few states, if he was licensed, even if he or his bonding company does not make good on it, there may be a state contractor fraud claims fund which provides some reimbursement.

And of course, after all is said and done, an appropriate Angies List Review would probably be in order.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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