I bought an old home a few years ago in which many things were not up
to code. I had a contractor in to do some remodeling, and in the
course of the trim work, he put a finish nail into a copper plumbing
pipe. Apparently the nail sealed the hole for a while, but just in the
past 3 months it started to leak. I fixed the problem myself and there
wasn't much damage.
I called the contractor and he claimed since the copper pipe wasn't
centered in the stud, and thus not done to code, he wasn't responsible.
I feel that since it wasn't leaking before he started working on the
house, and it was his nail that caused the leak, he is ultimately
responsible regardless of whether the plumbing was to code or not. I
am hoping to settle this dispute and I haven't been able to find any
authoritative legal precedent. Does anyone have any ideas on this?
This doesn't just happen on old houses. I did the same thing a few months
ago in a newer-ish house when installing some trim along the ceiling in a
bathroom. Not only was the copper pipe not centered in the wall (or the top
plate, which is where I hit it), it was fastened to a stud immediately next
to the drywall. In the course of fixing the leak - yes, I fixed it - I
discovered that when the installers attached the vanity to the wall, they
also hit the pipe; their nail glanced off to the side, though.
Probably, your contractor doesn't want to pay for the damages because he
wasn't given a chance to do the repairs himself. In all likelihood, he, as
the omnipotent contractor, could have done it cheaper than you did, being a
mere homeowner. If that is the case, he should at least pay you something
for the repair work.
If there wasn't much damage done, he should be jumping through hoops to make
sure you're happy because it wouldn't cost him much. Now it's costing him
future work from you and any referrals you might have sent his way.
If you were asking him to pay several thousand dollars, which is easy when
there's water damage, he might want to gripe and groan about it. He should
be complaining that he should have been allowed to do the repairs, though,
not griping about grandfather laws.
Contractors have the tools, the experience, the resources, and the contacts
to get jobs done faster than the average homeowner can. Time is money.
Bearing that in mind, would you rather pay somebody to do something you're
capable of doing or do it yourself? Which will cost you more? That
depends, of course, but I'm sure in this case the contractor would rather
have the option to do it himself rather than just be handed a bill for work
that's been done by somebody else.
Yes. You definitely need to get out more. Get a life. You had a problem.
You fixed it. Move on. You're an adult..................... COPE!
What would make you feel better? Going over and shooting the guy? Be my
guest. Other than that, go on to the next thing, learn to pay closer
attention to workmen in your home, and be thankful you got off cheap.
On 25 Nov 2006 17:16:19 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
This is what I would say to you if I was the contractor's lawyer.
"You Admit that it must have been 3 months after the work before it
"So if you have this mystical idea that my client caused a fault that
only revealed itself after 3 months, how do you know the actual fault
wasn't 6 months, or a year earlier? Meaning, do you know it was my
clients nail, or maybe work you did (trying to set the nail deeper),
or the previous owner, or the orginal home builder. Can you prove it
was my client?"
"if I put this glass on the table, you and I leave and come back in 3
months, and the glass is broken, using your logic, I must have been
the one to break it, right? No one else could have done it, no
earthquakes, wind storms, it had to be me. Can you say that
"If the pipe didn't immediately leak, your case is weak"
Ok, seriously, you need to pick your fights. If the contractor used
normal nails, and the piping was too close to the edge is it his
fault? He/she didn't activly violate any common sense, so the
condition was preexisting. Right? Pick your fights, if the damage
was nominal, then you already won.
Good luck, and keep us up to date about the problem.
And then, after you won your case (assuming the slippery bastard
didn't duck your summons), you would find out that he had his assets in
his wife's name, has an Bahamas bank account, Florida real estate, or
some other untouchable nest egg, just like OJ Simpson. SOP for those
he actually admitted to doing it and there was no question the plumbing
was misplaced. something i left out of the initial post was that the
wall where the plumbing ran was actually open on the backside (the
other side of the wall was a closet that was open due to the remodel).
so nothing would have stopped him from taking a quick look. i fixed it
myself and it only cost me about $40 as i had to buy the tools. at
this point its more of an academic debate.
We just ripped up a bathroom tile floor and discovered a rotted subfloor
portion near the shower. We believe it is because the bottom track of the
shower door was a half inch short and when installed the track was caulked
all the way around. Inevitably, water got under that track and because
there was caulk on the inside towards the shower pan, the water had no place
to go and eventually, invisibly, found its way to the tile floor and soaked
in slowly and rotted the subfloor. The shower door supplier for my house
built 8 years ago is still around. I plan on calling him and educating him.
If he is receptive, I will find that positive enuf and hopefully he will do
a better job in future homes. I won't be asking him for any money.
I am an electrician by craft so I have seen such issues from both sides.
The implied warranty that is the standard of the remodeling industry
is one year unless otherwise negotiated and agreed to in writing. The
applicable codes require both plumbers and electricians to keep their
work at least one and one quarter inches from the face of the framing
for the purpose of avoiding contact with fasteners used to apply the
finishes. Were that is not possible the code require that "kick plates"
be applied to resist fastener penetration to the installed work. Let me
be clear. It is always my responsibility as an electrician to guard my
work in place in order to protect it from physical damage. It is not
the obligation of other crafts to somehow magically avoid work that is
not protected as required by the code governing the work to be
protected. You may indeed have a cause of legal action against a crafts
person but that person would be the plumber who installed the work
without proper protection. The reason that the rules are structured
that way is that the other crafts cannot avoid work that they cannot see.
Tom Horne, Electrician.
Well we aren\'t no thin blue heroes and yet we aren\'t no blackguards to.
Both parties seem to have a defective understanding of
both building codes and common law.
1. In most jurisdictions, the only part of the building code
that is retroactive (i.e. obligates both home-owner and
contractor after a house has been OKed for occupation)
is the fire safety code. E.g. code nowadays often specify
bathroom doorways must be wide enough for wheelchairs.
But this does not obligate homeowners (or repair
carpenters) to rip out old doorways to make them comply
with the new code.
2. Unless specified beforehand in writing, your
assertion that the contractor is liable for damage he
caused is a common-law claim. Defending himself, the
contractor can say he assumed the pipe was where the
code said it ought to be, so he is not liable for nail damage
where no pipe was expected. You would then have
to prove to a court's satisfaction that you had some
basis to expect he could tell in what non-code place
the pipe was located. Since you have already put the
damage right, you would need unusual oratorical skill
to get a court to listen. But only a court judgment
could enforce your claim.
Did you see the original post that the one he's trying to get to pay
for it is the carpenter, not the plumber? And he may very well not
know who the plumber is, since it was existing work that may have been
there for a long time.
If it were me and I fixed it for $40, including tools, I wouldn't waste
my time worrying about it. If he went to small claims for a decision
and they ruled in his favor, how much is he going to get? They won't
award labor for a job he did himself and I doubt they are going to
award for the tools he bought. So, he gets $5 for materials.
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