Home remodeling is often referred to as property renovation. This entails changes or improvements that are made to a home or to real property. Making home improvements may refer to improving commercial and business properties, as well as improving residential properties. Some of the most common examples of home remodeling or renovating include:
- Repairing broken structures or fixtures;
- Additions or upgrades to functional aspects of the property, such as adding on to a home;
- Cosmetic changes intended to increase the attractiveness of the property;
- Adding more space or levels to a building; and
- Altering exterior aspects of the property, such as the garden or the parking lot.
Property renovation generally consists of measures to keep the property maintained and upgraded. Remodeling and renovating can also involve changes that are intended to enhance the property’s safety, as well as disability accessibility.
Property owners do not have an automatic right to renovate their property. An example of this would be how property cannot be renovated if the changes would result in a violation of state law or city ordinance. Generally speaking, property renovation may only occur with the consent of the land owner, or the manager of the property. Any unauthorized renovation could result in a private civil lawsuit.
However, there are some types of property renovation that may actually be necessary. An example of this would be if there is an issue involving a dangerous building. The property owner may be required to make specific renovations in order to fix the potentially hazardous conditions. Renovation could also be necessary in response to recently issued city zoning or health code ordinances.
What Are Some Common Home Renovation Disputes?
Some examples of the most common types of property renovation lawsuits include, but are not limited to:
- Negligence, as failure to repair dangerous building structures can lead to a premises liability claim;
- Breach of contract, such a violation of construction contract terms;
- Loan defaults, as home improvement loans are common for property renovation projects; and
- Various zoning laws and ordinance violations.
In some cases, the violation may only be discovered once the renovations have been completed. Because of this, it may be difficult to request that the property renovations be undone. The court will likely issue a monetary damages award, as opposed to issuing an injunction to have the renovations undone or destroyed.
Home remodeling is a type of home improvement. Instead of repairing or remodeling just one part of the property, the entire property receives a “makeover”. Home remodeling disputes refer to legal disputes that arise between contractors and property owners, or between property owners and mortgage companies. Examples of common disputes include:
- Failure to pay for the work completed;
- Providing substandard work; and
- Damaging the property instead of improving it.
As previously mentioned, there may be issues involving the breach of a loan contract. A home improvement loan is money that a property owner borrows from a mortgage lender. This is for the purpose of remodeling, repairing, or adding to property. Home improvement loan disputes involve the homeowner failing to fulfill the terms of the loan, such as failing to make payments on time.
Another example would be fraud, such as the property owner unknowingly applying for a home improvement loan with a fraudulent company. Another example of fraud would be how the property owner may also provide false documents in order to obtain the loan.
What Are Construction Defects?
Construction defects are problems with the condition of a building. These problems reduce the building’s value. It is most common for defects to result when the work of the contractor or subcontractor is not up to industry standards.
There are four general categories of construction defects:
- Design Deficiencies: These are deficiencies which typically result from design professionals, such as engineers and architects. An example of this would be how a roof that is not built following the building code could result in water intrusion, or inadequate structural support;
- Material Deficiencies: Material deficiencies refer to the use of bad or improper building materials. Some of the most common examples include leaky windows, bad asphalt, poorly installed roofing shingles, and inferior sheetrock in especially damp areas;
- Construction Deficiencies: Construction deficiencies result from poor workmanship during the home construction process. Construction deficiencies commonly result in issues such as cracked foundations, dry rot, electrical problems, plumbing problems, and various different pest infestations; and
- Subsurface Deficiencies: Subsurface Deficiencies occur below the surface, when soil conditions cause the home to become unstable. These deficiencies most often occur in homes built on hills or otherwise unstable locations. Physical examples of subsurface deficiencies would be cracks in the walls, floor, or foundation of the home.
You may be able to recover damages for construction defects. Legal theories most commonly used in relation to construction defects include:
- Negligence: When developing property, developers are required to use reasonable care during the construction process. Thus, construction professionals must act as a reasonably careful person would have acted under similar circumstances. If the construction professional acts unreasonable, then you may recover damages associated with their negligence. It is important to note that you may still have a claim for negligence even if you were not the original purchaser of the property, as the original construction professional may still be liable for damages they cause;
- Breach of Contract: Real estate owners or homeowners may sue a construction professional for not abiding by the terms of the real estate contract. Breaches of contract usually involve one party breaking an obligation that they owe the other party. Damages for breaches of contract will be governed under the contract breach section of the agreement between the two parties;
- Strict Liability: Strict liability claims typically involve the implied warranty of habitability. What this means is that if a construction professional was the cause of a defect in the property, and there were damages associated with the defect that made the property uninhabitable, the construction professional may be strictly liable for those damages or injuries to the property owner; and
- Fraud: Simply put fraud occurs when a construction professional intentionally misrepresents their construction. Intentional misrepresentation occurs when a construction professional makes false statements or false advertisements concerning their services. For example, a construction professional may advertise that this special type of roofing repels heat at “x” rate, when in fact the roofing does not repel heat at all. In such cases, the property owner may sue the construction professional under the legal theory of fraud.
Should any of the above lawsuits go to trial, the construction defect will require proof provided by the help of expert testimony. Examples of damages awarded by courts in cases of construction defects include:
- Costs associated with repairs made necessary by the construction defects;
- Decline in property value;
- Cost of temporary housing from being displaced by the construction defects;
- Court costs; and
- Occasionally, attorney fees.
Should I Contact an Attorney about Home Improvement Disputes?
If you are experiencing any sort of home improvement disputes, you should consult with a local property attorney. Because state laws regarding the subject vary widely from state to state, an experienced local property attorney in your area would be best suited for understanding the laws of your state.
An experienced property attorney can ensure you are aware of your ;legal rights and duties, and help you gather evidence to support your claim. An attorney will represent you in court as needed while working towards an appropriate damages award when available. If you are the party being sued, an attorney will determine if any defenses are available to you based on the specifics of your case.