Q: Can I insinuate or "threaten" to break a solar contract that's already been installed?
I recently had solar panels installed in MD. It was verbally stated and explained how it would be installed: inverter inside in the basement, shutdown switch outside in the front, and conduit running on the side of my home hugging the downspout. The installers didn't do this and performed the path of least resistance, the front of home.
I was told that the install will take a full day (9hrs), which they got done in 3. I was planning to be home by 2pm so that I can be there to sign the paperwork. Instead they told my wife that she had to sign it even though she isn't on the mortgage or the loan for the solar.
1. There is a "good workmanlike manner" clause
2. They left the mess from cutting into my drywall on the floor and a gatorade bottle.
3. The install isn't up to code (NEC 2017) for multiple things.
4. All I really want is for them to move the mechanicals for free. I do want solar but am willing to give it up after being lied to.
You have a breach of contract action that is unlikely to be material enough to allow you to rescind the contract, give back all the solar panel equipment, and get a full refund. You will be stuck with your contract. Your damages will be measured by the cost to correct and repair any faulty workmanship or noncompliant performance under the contract.
You must provide the contractor with a reasonable opportunity to correct the cited defects in performance before hiring another contractor to fix the problems and then suing the contractor for those costs. What a reasonable opportunity means is not defined in the law, but depends on the nature of the contract and work involved. You must provide the contractor with a written list of the defects you want corrected, and a clear demand that the contractor return and perform the repairs, and request the contractor give you a timeframe within which the work is to be performed. If you do not hear back from the contractor within a reasonably stated deadline for a response, with an acknowledgment of the issues and a timeline for repairs, then you may proceed with hiring your own contractor to correct the defects in performance and then sue the contractor for the cost of repairs.
Because this installation was to your home residence, this contract falls under the Maryland Home Improvement law, and you may elect to file a complaint with the MHIC. The complaint form is on the website for the MHIC. If the complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction after filing the MHIC complaint, then you will be provided with a complaint form for filing a monetary damages claim against the Guaranty Fund. The Guaranty Fund pays up to $20,000 to homeowners for actual financial losses suffered on account of faulty or defective work under a home improvement contract. If successful, you will be paid the costs you incur repairing the defective work directly from the Guaranty Fund. The contractor will then have to reimburse the Fund or have its license to operate in the state suspended. You must document and prove that you gave the contractor a reasonable opportunity to return and repair the defects before you proceed with your comlaint and before you incur the cost of repairs with another contractor. You also can proceed with three estimates from MHIC-licensed contractors for the cost of repairs.
Alternatively, you can choose to sue the contractor in court, and try your case, and if you win and obtain a judgment, try to collect the judgment on your own. However, you cannot simultaneously file an MHIC complaint and Guaranty Fund claim as well as pursue a civil suit in court for damages, or MHIC will suspend the claim process pending resolution of the civil suit. Given your description of the defective work, I doubt your claim adds up to enough monetary damages to justify hiring a lawyer and paying those fees.
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