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California Construction Law Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law and Small Claims for California on
Q: During a landscape project the home owner fired me. Are they legally required to pay for materials used so far?

This customer was a problem from the very start. Comparing my methods and approach to youtube videos and telling me I wasn't doing the installation correctly. From then on he constantly complained about every single little step of the project. Eventually Myself and my crew needed a break from... Read more »

Adam Stoddard
Adam Stoddard
answered on Nov 22, 2022

Did you have a contract with the homeowner? You are entitled to be paid for the work performed and materials delivered to the project. Given that you are only out about $3K, this would be a small claims matter.

1 Answer | Asked in Products Liability, Business Law, Construction Law and Small Claims for California on
Q: If a contractor leaves equipment on a property, & someone moves the equipment, causing damage to the home, who's liable?

For instance, if the contractor had left a compact tractor on the property, and over a weekend when neither the homeowner or contractor were there, someone pushed the tractor into the siding on the home, causing damage, would the contractor be liable for the damaged siding since they were the one... Read more »

Dan Rowan Cortright
Dan Rowan Cortright
answered on Nov 17, 2022

No, the person who moved the backhoe actually caused the damage, not the contractor who wasn't there.

2 Answers | Asked in Bankruptcy and Construction Law for California on
Q: If payment for a contractor entered into my chapter 7 bankruptcy, and approved. What of civil suit and mechanics lien?

They charged for work never done, and caused damage. Was preliminary notice needed? Can they force sell my home?

Cristina M. Lipan
Cristina M. Lipan
answered on Nov 17, 2022

The mechanic's lien is a secured claim, secured against the property on which work was done. That doesnt go away just by virtue of the bankruptcy filing. You can file an adversary in the bankruptcy case though to get rid of it, if you believe it is based on fraudulent charges. Also, you want... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Contracts and Construction Law for California on
Q: I signed a contract w/ a GC that included bids from subs we agreed on. GC then renegotiated &kept the savings. Ethical?

I signed a contract with a General Contractor that included work by subcontractors for prices that we agreed upon. The GC then without me knowing renegotiated and reduced the scope of work without telling me. He planned on keeping the savings until I found out what he had done. Is this even... Read more »

James R. Dickinson
James R. Dickinson
answered on Nov 15, 2022

When you say "renegotiated" do you mean you and the GC agreed to modify your agreement? Don't answer here. Speak with a local attorney. [I litigate cases. Anything posted here must not be construed as legal advice, nor as grounds for forming an attorney-client relationship. You... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law, Business Law, Construction Law and Contracts for California on
Q: Roofing contractor had me pay him more than the estimate when jobnot completed and materials not delivered

Is this an unfair business practice and how can I get my money back?

Dan Rowan Cortright
Dan Rowan Cortright
answered on Nov 14, 2022

This may be an unfair business practice, breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, depending on more facts. Was there a written contract for the job? If not, were the terms of an oral agreement later referenced or set forth in an email/text? Was the contractor... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Personal Injury, Construction Law, Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for California on
Q: Dust got into my tenants unit from a roofer's work and now they are claiming damages of $20K+. Who's liable?

Hi, I am a landlord with a tenant who is trying to claim $20K of personal property damages after I hired a licensed/contracted roofer to do work. They are saying that the dust broke their computer and damaged some worn shoes. The roofers are trying to deny responsibility, but they did not require... Read more »

James A. Greer
James A. Greer
answered on Nov 14, 2022

Dear Landlord regarding Tenant Claim about dust intrusion: The tenant's claim is one for negligence, and goes something like this: it was reasonably foreseeable for the roofing contractor to know or reasonable should know that their construction work would result in dust intrusion and... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Construction Law for California on
Q: A contractor I hired has done very poor work, keeps demanding more money and blames me for everything. What do I do?

I hired a contractor to remodel a kitchen and bathroom. He did really poor work, and refuses to fix it. When he was doing th ekitchen he found some damage to the back wall of the house. I agreed to have him fix it and the top floor of my house has dipped. I can't close a window. I have... Read more »

Adam Stoddard
Adam Stoddard
answered on Nov 14, 2022

You should review the terms of your contract. It is illegal for a contractor to request or accept money for work not yet performed or materials not delivered. If the work is as bad as you say, then you should tell the contractor that he should send you a final invoice for all of the work performed... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Civil Litigation, Construction Law and Contracts for California on
Q: I filed a complaint with the CSLB against a Contractor for shoddy work and breach of contract and it has been assigned

to mandatory, binding arbitration.

The Contractor is stating I still owe him the balance on the contract so he will not fix any issues until that is paid. The CSLB states that the same issues should not be filed in a civil suit but the Contractor has now filed a civil suit in Superior... Read more »

James A. Greer
James A. Greer
answered on Nov 14, 2022

CSLB Claim vs. Civil Suit: Your first inquiry is whether the construction contract has Arbitration as a dispute mechanism - if it does, within 30 days of service of the Civil Suit you should file a "Motion to Stay" the civil suit grounded on the argument that the parties are... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: i have a contract with an architect for the design and building of an ADU. He says I have no rights to the work product.

We have agreed he will not oversee the permit and inspections and will stop work. The design is finished, and we have agreed on payment of 1/2 of the total contract, however he says I may not have a copy of his design. I've agreed to pay 9k out of an 18k contract.

Adam Stoddard
Adam Stoddard
answered on Nov 11, 2022

I would look to the terms of your contract with the architect. It may describe what, if anything, you are entitled to as far as the work product. You may need an attorney to review the contract as well.

1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law and Contracts for California on
Q: I need to terminate a contract with a local building contractor. I need to know:- How much am I obligated to pay?

- My interest is in ending the contract and receiving the original design file, more than a pdf file as stated in the contract. The file I need to complete the work was generated by Chief Architect software.

- Contractor has never invoiced me for $1000 deposit, per contract. Told me... Read more »

Adam Stoddard
Adam Stoddard
answered on Nov 9, 2022

This somewhat depends on the terms of the contract. Technically, a contractor can only request a $1,000 up front or 10% of the contract upfront, whichever is lesser. A contractor can also not request money for work not performed or materials not delivered.

1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: Can a general contractor enforce a lien on property if the last time they did work was more than six months ago?

The last time a general contractor (solar installer) did work on my home was nearly seven months ago. Due to number of reasons (incl. breaching terms of their contract, misrepresentation of good & services, poor workmanship, gross overcharging, damaging property, etc), I requested to stop work... Read more »

James R. Dickinson
James R. Dickinson
answered on Oct 9, 2022

Speak with a litigation attorney in your area. [I litigate cases. Anything posted here must not be construed as legal advice, nor as grounds for forming an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for formal legal advice and representation.]

2 Answers | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: I signed a contract with construction co. Three rooms, 1 completed #2 has been in progress for 6 months

have put out extra money for up grades but company keeps putting me off they come one day , do half job and don't see for a month what is my recourse

can I get money that i have put down returned that would be

about $18,000.

thank you

James L. Arrasmith
PREMIUM
James L. Arrasmith PRO label
answered on Oct 4, 2022

You can sue for breach of contract if the company is not fulfilling its terms of the bargain. Unless a specific time period is specified (or a time is of the essence clause was put into your contract), the court would interpret the time of completion as a "reasonable time."

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1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: Can a contractor file a lien on my property, if loan company fully released funds and paid them off for the project?

I've been dealing with a general contractor (that installed solar panels on my roof) ever since February. Loan company released funds and fully paid them off before the project was finished. I've been making loan payment for past few months. I recently received notice from contractor,... Read more »

James R. Dickinson
James R. Dickinson
answered on Sep 27, 2022

You need an attorney to guide you through this. It is very important that you understand, among other things, your agreement with the contractor and how the project is being financed. Speak with an attorney today. [I litigate cases. Anything posted here must not be construed as legal advice, nor as... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: Is there a limit on the markup for 3rd party invoices? It isn't mentioned in the contract.

There is a column on the invoice for the markup amount. The items I'm questioning have nothing in that column.

This was a fire restoration. One room was damaged and the attic and floors throughout. The bill for the engineer was $9,300.

Six joists were replaced, all floors... Read more »

James R. Dickinson
James R. Dickinson
answered on Sep 21, 2022

You've provided some good information here, but more is needed (e.g., what does the contract or agreement state on this issue?). Don't share more here; instead, speak with a local attorney. [I litigate cases. Anything posted here must not be construed as legal advice, nor as grounds for... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts and Construction Law for California on
Q: Can there be intentional misrepresentation post-contract signature where false representations induced me to then amend?

Contract was signed, then contractor sent change orders to alter OG contract. I signed them due to the misrepresentations of the contractor. Can I assert a cause of action for intentional misrepresentation where the contractor intentionally made misrepresentations to me to get me sign the change... Read more »

Adam T. Carralejo
Adam T. Carralejo
answered on Aug 14, 2022

Absolutely. You are exactly right.

Change orders are one of the most likely areas for abuse by contractors because with the project already in progress, the owner has less leverage to deny the change order.

1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: My contractor ghosted me near the end of the job. I have paid him directly but now find out he didn't order the material

He has also not paid the employees or installers. But I have paid him. What can I do legally to get job done and have his vendors paid

Adam T. Carralejo
Adam T. Carralejo
answered on Aug 5, 2022

Abandonment of the job is a serious ethical and legal violation. If you have any contact with your contractor you should make a record (email/text/mail) of demanding reimbursement to you of any amounts owed employees and installers.

Second thing is to verify his CSLB license, if you...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: I own a franchise in California that sells Window treatments. I understand I have to use licensed contractors to do the

installation. Can I encourage the client use whoever I suggest? How does this work?

James A. Greer
James A. Greer
answered on Jul 11, 2022

Dear Franchise Owner: You asked about the protocol for your achieving a desired outcome of having your customers use your licensed contractors for the installation. If I can presume that you are selling BOTH the product AND the installation, then the answer os fairly straightforward: in your... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Employment Law, Construction Law and Employment Discrimination for California on
Q: Covid Vaccine Mandate - Booster

I was recently hired at a Construction Firm and provide covid vaccine card. Today I recieved an email from HR stating that i do not have the booster. There is nothing on the employee hand book nor nothing in the interview stating that the employment requirement that mandates covid vaccine for... Read more »

Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
answered on Jun 29, 2022

You get the booster. If you refuse to do what your employer wants, you get fired. It is that simple. Sorry.

Good luck to you.

1 Answer | Asked in Construction Law for California on
Q: Construction: we are using a contractor who we’ve lost confidence in.

We have a major rebuild for which we have a construction loan. Our contractor rarely comes by our job site and the project is run primarily by his crew. There are many parts that have been poorly constructed. Including support beams that hold up our new roof. His invoices are emails that demand... Read more »

James A. Greer
James A. Greer
answered on May 12, 2022

Dear Major Rebuild With Contractor Troubles: these types of situations are tricky, and it's nearly impossible in this forum to issue out a set of instructions to you (this, from a 35 year attorney who is a developer and a licensed Contractor). You have overlays of Contractor's... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law, Contracts and Construction Law for California on
Q: Does cashing a check from my Ca contractor that says paid in full means I can’t go after for the rest of the funds

They are now out of business and the check is good as of today and I wanted to cash this before going after the rest of funds

Julie King
Julie King
answered on Feb 15, 2022

Yes, cashing a check marked "payment in full" or similar language constitutes the settlement of a claim under California law. If they are out of business, the only way you'll get the rest of your money is to speak with a litigation attorney to see if there is a way to sue the... Read more »

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