Q: What action can I take against a solar company that has not met completion time line?
Started in August 2022 and there original statement sent to me states completion within 16 weeks. It is now end of May and I'm making payments on a system that is not completed. They have reimbursed me for 2 payments but I have been ignored on the last few payments. Now I have a water leak due to install and they have ignored my request for this as well.
Unless time is of the essence in your installation contract, a statement as to the time of completion does not set a firm date. Instead, your contractor has a reasonable time to complete the installation. What constitutes a reasonable time depends upon the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. For example, sometimes construction projects are not completed as quickly as anticipated based on adverse weather conditions. In recent years, such projects have been delayed due to supply chain issues affecting the delivery of materials needed to complete a project. On the other hand, a shortage of labor is not something that is usually considered in determining whether a reasonable time has passed.
It is likely that a judge or jury would conclude that a reasonable time has passed from August 2022 to May 2023 for a project with an estimated completion time of 16 weeks absent unusual circumstances.
You should send a demand to the company indicating that it originally stated the completion time would be sixteen weeks and that, after forty-four weeks, the project has not yet been completed. If accurate, you might consider adding that there have been no unusual adverse weather events justifying any delay, and that no unexpected delays in the availability and delivery of materials has been reported to you. Carefully read your installation contract and include anything else it requires in any notice of default provisions. If your contract specifies a period of time to cure any default, demand that the company complete the installation within that period of time. If no period of time is specified, give them a specific time to complete the project (e.g. 14 days). If there is a third-party financing company (lender) associated with the transaction, you should cc that company with your demand letter.
If the company does not complete the installation within the time specified in your demand, you likely have the right to hire another company to complete the installation. If there is a third-party financing company (lender) associated with the transaction, you will need to notify this lender that you have hired a new company to complete the work and instruct the lender not to release any additional funding to the original company. You, or your lender, need to pay the new company first, and then pay the original company the balance of the price you originally agreed upon for the work that they have already completed. If the new company requires you to pay more than the price you originally agreed upon, you will have to pay it, but you can then send a demand to the original company for the difference.
As always, the terms and conditions of your contract with the original solar company and any third-party lender are very important. Anything you may have agreed to in that contract could potentially affect this answer and your best strategy on how to proceed. It is highly advisable that you take your contract with the solar company to an attorney who practices construction law for review and analysis, as the terms of that contract may change things. You should expect to pay $500-1,000 for such a review and analysis depending on the length of that contract.
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