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.