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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Default Contractor Obligation

    I've never seen a board with so many topics and yet nothing for what I want! I hope this is the most appropriate place to post.

    This fall I had a contractor do some concrete work. When it came time for them to poor the concrete the weather had left the lawn rather soaked. The truck tore up the lawn while trying to back in. Also two trees were damaged in the process.

    I was upset about the trees and jokingly asked if his insurance would replace them. He answered with a rather sober "no". He did offer to repair the damage to the lawn (which he made sound like he was doing as a favor instead of an obligation). Supposedly he had some sod from another job that they were going to lay down. Weeks went by and they never did.

    Snow now covers the area and will remain this way into spring. He sent me a bill for the remainder of the contract.

    Is he obligated to repair the damages to my property, can I get him to replace the trees as well? If so, should I be withholding payment of contract until he repairs the damages?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Contractor Obligation

    In my 40+ years sometimes these things happen that are beyond your control, but I've also learned that common sense usually could have prevented it.

    Whenever something was damaged I made sure to put it back the way it was. The homeowner didn't have to beg or even ask, it was implied that it would be taken care of whether it was a result of one of my guys or a sub, I made sure it got corrected ASAP.

    The fact that you had to ask, and he still hasn't repaired it tells you what kind of guy you're dealing with.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,027

    Default Re: Contractor Obligation

    I'd have to agree with libcarp that a responsible contractor would have either not done the damage or would have fixed it, no questions asked. If you expect any cooperation from this contractor at all, withhold final payment until you've gotten satisfied with the job, including resolution to the lawn and trees. Also keep in mind that the contractor is going to be pissed that you're withholding payment so any further work done by him may not be of the best quality, let alone the hassles of dealing with him.

    I would recommend getting quotes from landscapers to repair the damage, then negotiate a reduction in the final bill rather than have this same contractor back.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Contractor Obligation

    Quote Originally Posted by jabbakahut View Post
    I've never seen a board with so many topics and yet nothing for what I want! I hope this is the most appropriate place to post.

    This fall I had a contractor do some concrete work. When it came time for them to poor the concrete the weather had left the lawn rather soaked. The truck tore up the lawn while trying to back in. Also two trees were damaged in the process.

    I was upset about the trees and jokingly asked if his insurance would replace them. He answered with a rather sober "no". He did offer to repair the damage to the lawn (which he made sound like he was doing as a favor instead of an obligation). Supposedly he had some sod from another job that they were going to lay down. Weeks went by and they never did.

    Snow now covers the area and will remain this way into spring. He sent me a bill for the remainder of the contract.

    Is he obligated to repair the damages to my property, can I get him to replace the trees as well? If so, should I be withholding payment of contract until he repairs the damages?
    I'd check what the contract says, may disclaim damage to the area or responsibility for conditions that would promote it (such as waterlogged soil).Be sure to check any tiny print (including on the back) and any mentioned brochures, handouts, etc. referred to by the contract; and any licensure rules/laws etc. Also check with your building office, if permit work might even be a bond in place.

    Did you sign a release? Did you give them the "okay" to back the truck in on the lawn? Wheel barrows and troughs have a purpose in concrete pours from the redi-mixer delivery, so do hoses and pumper stations, but that costs more, as does TIME on delivery of the redi-mixer and the clean-up so he can hit the road for the next delivery.

    Of course asking the contractor what his insurance covers - silly. You should have already acquired a certificate of insurance before you had work done and verified it was in place and active with the issuer before contracting and on any day they were working. Question addressed to the INSURER. Your own homeowner's insurance agent might be a helpful resource for you (familiar with local laws, etc.) regarding your damages questions. What the contract says and what you allowed or consented to (or what contractor aledges you directed or consented to) may affect your position. If the contract says its via redimix truck within x feet of pour and that was only access it would be unreasonable to expect no lawn damage for a multi-ton redimixer even if nearly empty to navigate even a dry lawn without damage, and if trees were in zone, equally unreasonable, unless there was a tree-less path of travel which was designated.

    Who paid for the concrete delivery? who signed for it? Who was directing the redi-mix driver? Got their insurance info? Ever ask them about the tree damage?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    76

    Arrow Re: Contractor Obligation

    I will have to agree with Blue Ridge, as I use to be a concrete contractor pouring decorative concrete, BUT, we always let our customers know that there could be some collateral damage in what we do, as we do work with very heavy trucks, even using wheel barrows to transport concrete to the site vice having the truck pull in will still mess up the yard.

    We would evaluate every situation and let the customer know that if we bring that truck around back, it WILL create damage, but we could use wheelbarrows (less damage, but will require more time, which means more money).

    But we would fix as much as we could, but our contract ALWAYS had a collateral damage clause in it because we just couldn't do our work without some damage occurring no matter how careful we were.

    NOVA Pros

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Contractor Obligation

    There are a couple of things going on here. First, as you probably gather from the other posts, there does seem to be agreement that there is a moral obligation for professionals to rectify excessive damage. That's just a good business practice, but it's not required of the contractor.

    The other, although not specifically part of your question, but seems to be implied, is whether there is a legal obligation for the contractor to fix the damage. This you would have to talk over with an attorney. So, right off the bat, you need to decide if the cost of fixing the damage is so great that it warrants filing suit. The question then would turn on whether the contractor either breached your contract, which doesn't sound like it from your post, or whether he was negligent in performing his duties. This goes to what BRP mentioned about what are reasonable and customary work practices for the job.

    Unless you really envision going to the mat here, and are likely to win, I would be nervous about withholding payment.

    good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Contractor Obligation

    Quote Originally Posted by MrButters View Post

    Unless you really envision going to the mat here, and are likely to win, I would be nervous about withholding payment.

    I wouldn't be too nervous about withholding payment for a couple of reasons.

    first, once you pay the remaining balance you have pretty much guaranteed that you will never see the contractor again. Once he has his money you can forget getting any more repair work done. You lose all bargaining power after you pay that money.

    second, even in a worst case scenario where he refuses to fix the damage and you refuse to pay another dime, he would have to make the same decision that you are currently faced with, i.e., is it worth it to go to the mat over this and are you (he) likely to prevail.

    I don't deal with contracts but I think it is pretty reasonable that you would expect a contractor to complete the agreed upon work without causing other damages. hold his feet to the fire and see what happens.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Contractor Obligation

    Without a signed and notorized mechanics lien waivers and supply waivers - which you'd rarely acquire without final payment having been made or rather about to be paid - and the waivers contingent on the final payment "clearing", you could be subjecting your property to a mechanic's lien being filed by the contractor - which could really mess up your title - and should that same contractor decide to commence a lien foreclosure action - that can get dicey. To dispute a mechanic's lien filed on your property or a supplier's lien filed on your property; you might have to file an action in the courts yourself - sometimes called a quiet title action - another expensive and costly proposition - both areas of complicated real estate, contracts, and contractors law - and that competent legal advice/representation is strongly advised. (The concrete delivery if not paid for by the contractor - could end up coming after you, as could any employees, sub contractors, or other materials - such as forms, gravel, etc. so you want proof of payment and waivers from all these entities).

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