Saturday, May 12, 2007

Suing a Builder in Massachusetts

Most of the posts from the homeowner side in this blog involve renovations or additions. As such most of these disputes involve contractors who are covered by the Home Improvement Contractor Law, or M.G.L. (Massachusetts General Laws) c. 142A. What should a homeowner do, however, if he or she is involved in a dispute with a builder?

As I have said so many times before, a good contract should actually prevent disputes and spell out the procedure for dealing with problems before they arise. Unfortunately, builders and homeowners alike often undertake large projects without consulting with a lawyer (who focuses on these things) and they then suffer the consequences when a disagreement occurs.

If homeowners develop problems with their builders, they should start off with a demand letter outlining the problem, and the solution that they would prefer. If the claim is in Massachusetts, the demand letter should be under the Consumer Protection statute.

If the issue cannot be resolved, then the parties can consider mediation, arbitration or ultimately filing suit. A lawsuit should always be the last resort. Lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming and emotionally draining. If a lawsuit is going to be filed, then one has to make sure that a judgment would actually be collectible by securing an asset (an attachment of real estate for example) in advance, if possible.

As always prevention is the best alternative. Doing one's homework by finding a good builder (the Builder's Association of Greater Boston-BAGB-www.bagb.org), drafting a good contract and keeping the lines of communication open will make for a positive experience.

26 Comments:

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not every contractor is a crook. Some like myself are honest people who get screwed by the homeowner who is very well protected by consumer laws. I tried to find recourse through research and all I found was how to sue the contractor. I tried the courts and got completely stonewalled no info unable to supply forms for liens or anything I needed ,I did however have no problem getting service and forms for suing the contractor. WHY have I never seen a report on t.v. or newspapers adressing the issue of a homeowner breaking contract and not paying tor work. This happens all the time and it is completely ignored

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, not every contractor
is a crook, some are dead and no longer stealing peoples money. Seriously, I have never met a contractor that did not attempt to skimp and short cut wherever possible (most times in direct violation of the written contract) in order to maximize their profit.

 
At 10:21 PM, Anonymous price per head said...

I wonder why I did not knew this before.... it was a good read. You are working on a very good blog.. I look forward to visit your blog again....

 
At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was ripped off by a contractor and got the AGO after him. The second Contractor who replaced the first Contractor claimed I was paying him $55.00 an hour on top of the negotiated contract and ripped me off knowing what the previous Contractor had already done. Im suing the second GC under 2 separate Contracts in small claims court and asking for treble damages for intentional fraud and misrepresentation. I will never have another home built in Mass, and I will use every tool available to put these Guys out of business.

 
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At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every contractor will butter you by claiming that they are not like the other crooks !! All contractors I came across in the last 15 years turned out to be crooks without exception. No matter what the home owner does. If a homeowner thinks that drafting a contract will protect their rights against a contractor, they are in for a BIG SURPRISE. There is a reason why a contractor rips-off a homeowner 9 times out ten even when everything is spelled out in a contract: They know they can get away with it!!
Tougher consumer protection laws need to be enacted to protect the homeowner. UNQUALIFIED AND CROOKED Contractors has become an epidemic. Homeowners need to stop just paying what contractors ask for and more importantly, stop paying in advance. Think about it. All other professionals get paid when they finish a job, except home improvements contractors. This is the heart of the problem. When we go to work we do not get paid first, we work then get a paycheck at the end of the week!!

 

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