Home Renovation Laws

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 What Does "Home Renovation" Mean?

Home renovation, also known as home remodeling, is a general term that refers to the process of repairs or improvements being performed on a home. Home renovation can refer to an entire remodeling of a home, or a simple upgrade of a certain part of the home, such as the kitchen, basement, or bathroom.

Home renovation commonly involves executing a home improvement loan, which is a loan that is specifically granted to eligible homeowners for the specific purpose of making home improvements or repairs. Although most home renovations involve the homeowner(s) themselves making improvements or repairs, there are instances where the homeowner may require the assistance of a home renovation contractor.

In cases of major home improvements, the homeowner may enter into a home improvement contract between them and a renovation company that will govern the terms of the home renovation project.

In most cases, home renovation involves do-it-yourself projects. However, for more major projects, the homeowner may work with a home renovation contractor to assist with the renovations. This may require the use of a home improvement contract to govern the terms of the project.

What Are Some Common Home Renovation Disputes?

As mentioned above, home renovation projects are often simple home improvements or repairs made by a homeowner. However, home renovations may also be more major projects, and involve the homeowner working and contracting with outside parties for either funding for the project or contract work. As such, home renovation disputes are fairly common.

Examples of common home renovation disputes include, but are not limited to:

  • Breach of Contract Disputes: Major home renovations and repairs often involve the homeowner(s) contracting with an outside home renovation company or private contractor in order to assist the homeowner(s) or completely perform the home renovation.
    • Then, when either party fails to perform their obligations under the home renovation contract, the other party may sue the breaching party for damages;
  • Damage to Property: Property damage is also a common home renovation dispute. When a third party does damage during a home renovation project, the homeowner may sue that third party for damage done to their property in civil court; and/or
  • Boundary or Zoning Disputes: Depending on the location in which the home renovation is taking place, many home renovation projects may require a property owner to first obtain a permit or get approval from their local housing board before they start making changes to their property.
    • Additionally, in some jurisdictions some renovations may be illegal and require the homeowner to fight the local legislation;

Home renovation disputes generally require the assistance of an attorney that is experienced in real estate disputes. This is especially true in major renovation projects that involve multiple home renovation contracts or home renovation loans. Further, as mentioned above, the real estate and property laws are different from state to state, and can even be different from one locality to another.

Further, there may be additional disputes that may arise during a home renovation project, such as tax disputes, property improvements made to a marital home during a divorce case, and disputes regarding the financing of the home improvements.

How Are Home Renovation Disputes Resolved?

As mentioned above, major home renovation disputes often involve a home renovation contract that governs both the homeowner and contractors involved in the home renovation project. As such, home renovation disputes are most often resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution project outlined within the home renovation contact.

For example, one common dispute resolution clause present in a home renovation contract is that any party that has a complaint or dispute must first allow the other party a period of time to correct the cause of the complaint or dispute. Then, the parties may be subject to arbitration, or they may be granted to file a private civil lawsuit in a designated court.

However, in the case of there not being a contract that outlines the dispute resolution process, the avenue available for home renovation disputes is often initiating a private civil lawsuit. For example, in a case that involves sub-quality work, the individual that performed the sub-quality work may be sued privately by the other party that contracted them to perform the work.

Examples of other common home renovation dispute resolution options include:

  • Contacting the Responsible Party: One of the most common dispute resolution options is directly communicating with the party responsible in order to allow them to correct their mistake; and
  • Mediation: Another common alternative dispute resolution process is mediation, which is an attempt to settle a legal dispute through the active participation of a third party, known as a mediator, who works with the disputing parties to find points of agreement and resolve conflicts in a binding mediation agreement.

What Types of Home Renovation Laws Govern Property Improvements?

Home renovation laws are the set of state property and local property laws that dictate which types of property improvements may be performed on a home, and which improvements are not allowed. These sets of property laws usually involve aspects of health and safety codes, and in some cases can also involve business laws.

In general, an individual cannot renovate a home in a way that would violate any local zoning and land use laws. For example, the addition of a second story to the home that obstructs the view of a neighbor, will typically result in zoning disputes. Additionally, a fence that is overly large or non-standard may also violate local zoning laws.

Another common example of a home renovation that may be found to be illegal is where the home is renovated in order to accommodate a home business. These renovations may be illegal if businesses are not allowed to be within the neighborhood plan. Alternatively, if the renovation causes the property to become more dangerous resulting in an injury, or results in a boundary dispute, the renovation project may also involve some overlap with personal injury laws as well.

Regardless of whether a home renovation project is minor or major, and regardless of whether the project involves private real estate or commercial property, it is typically a good idea to consult with a local real estate lawyer before undertaking the project. Home renovation lawyers can ensure that the home renovations project is permissible and compliant with state and local laws, as well as help an individual dispute the laws if the renovation is not permitted.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Home Renovation Laws?

As can be seen, home renovation laws may become increasingly complex as they involve a wide array of legal statutes that differ from state to state, and even from locality to locality. As such, if you are involved in a legal dispute involving home renovation laws, it is in your best interests to immediately consult with an experienced real estate lawyer.

An experienced real estate lawyer will be able to explain your best course of legal action in relation to the state and local laws that govern your home renovation project. Additionally, an attorney will also be able to initiate a civil lawsuit on your behalf against a party that may have harmed you during a home renovation project.

Additionally, a real estate lawyer can also review any contracts or laws that your home renovation project may be subject to, as well as represent you at any necessary in court proceedings.

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