Whether it’s a household repair or new construction, if you’ve owned a home for a significant length of time, you’ve probably worked with a residential contractor. Ideally, the contractor’s work is completed on time, on budget, and to your standards. But unfortunately, issues do arise. There can be problems with the permits, materials, or even the contractor’s work itself. What can you do if things go wrong?

Contractor Warranty

Under Georgia Law, before the contractor begins their project, they must provide the homeowner with a warranty for their work. This warranty should be written; it should detail the specific project, what is covered (ex: faulty materials, defective work), and how long the warranty is in effect. The document should also address how a homeowner can make a legal claim, if the contractor fails to fix any construction issues. Typically, contractors will issue warranties on projects that are valued $2,500 or more.

Right to Repair

If there’s a construction issue that the contractor doesn’t fix, the homeowner has the legal right under Georgia’s Right to Repair Act to file a lawsuit against the contractor. At least 90 days prior to filing a lawsuit, the homeowner must provide written notice to the contractor, explaining that they’re planning to file suit due to construction defects. That document should describe the defects in detail (ex: type, cause) and include any photographs or professional inspection reports. Note: If someone was severely injured or killed because of the construction defects, the homeowner does not have to provide a 90-day written notice.

After the homeowner provides the contractor with written notice, the contractor has 30 days to reply in writing. During that time, they may ask to inspect the house and the construction defect in question. The contractor may then settle the claim by making the repairs, paying the homeowner, or a combination of both. Or, the contractor may refuse to settle and serve the homeowner a written statement explaining why they are not fixing any issues.

If the homeowner chooses to accept the contractor’s offer to repair the defects, the homeowner must make that acceptance in writing, within 30 days of receiving the contractor’s offer. If the homeowner wants to reject the contractor’s offer, the homeowner must provide a written rejection. In the rejection letter, the homeowner should explain why they’re rejecting the offer.

Filing a Lawsuit

If the homeowner rejects the contractor’s settlement offer, or if the contractor fails to fix or respond to the issue(s), the next step is filing a lawsuit. The homeowner can file a lawsuit for failure to use proper materials, inadequate work, or construction that is below industry or state standards. The court will decide damages based on the facts of the case and other contributing factors (like whether the contractor tried to fix the issues).

Have Additional Questions? Contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates

Dealing with contractors and construction can be incredibly stressful – especially when the work is not being done correctly. If you’re having problems with a home construction project and you need some legal advice, please reach out to our team of experienced real estate attorneys. We serve the entire Atlanta area, and we’re happy to help answer any questions. You can reach us by calling (770) 933-9009 or by visiting our website.