<<You can not go back after the fact and try to hold an unsupervised
contractor responsible for items you neglected to specify in advance
and since you voluntarily decided not to supervise the work in
Not true. You can easily hold them to what is called a "reasonable standard
of care" in many cases. If the contract doesn't hold the contractor
harmless for *any* mishap, then all sorts of legal avenues open up if
there's damage caused by their actions or inactions.
Those "hold harmless" contracts are rare and usually reserved to things like
cement delivery. If the owner/builder asks the delivery driver to go beyond
curbside delivery they are almost always asked to sign a contract that holds
the delivery company harmless for going beyond the normal state/county road
Why? Because they know the first kiss of a 10 ton truck on almost any kind
of landscaping is not a pretty sight. They crush conduit, collapse septic
tanks, take parts of the house structure itself down and more. The
visibility from the cab of a cement truck is not just not very good, the
size so huge and weight so heavy that it's unreasonable to expect they won't
harm anything. SO many trucks have crushed SO much stuff SO many times that
a "total indemnity" contract became industry standard. Getting it signed
curbside and not when the main contract is signed is also, unfortunately, an
industry practice as well. )-: People are reluctant to sign "hold
harmless" contracts and that's one reason why they are usually not found in
single home painting or other kinds of maintenance contracts entered into
with casual labor.
<<you gave up any ability to renegotiate the conditions of the work as
it took place and have to live with what you have unless you can prove
intentional vandalism of your property...>>
Hmmmmm. Also not true. The civil courts would be empty except for dust and
spiders if liability for damage ended where you claim it does. If the
contractor can bring another painting specialist or some other authority to
testify that Painter A did not exhibit a "reasonable standard of care" when
performing the job, they are likely to recover some money. Small claims
courts are clogged with this sort of litigation because either the contract
was oral, or it was a two paragraph "I will paint your entire house for
$5,000. Old paint will be scraped off."
As for a renegotiaton after completion, it happens all the time. If I
thought the contractor was a real flake and performed horribly I'd fill out
a small claims court form in advance, asking for the maximum damages I
thought I could get. Then I would meet with the contractor (who would not
be paid the last installment without my final approval) and say "You really
tore up my landscaping. I think that's at LEAST X$ in repair work. He
might get pissed but he also might agree to a rebate - hence a post job
renegotiation. If he was a real hardass about it, I'd serve him
(informally) with my papers and ask one last time if he felt that he wasn't
careful enough and an adjustment was in order.
If he still thought he did an A-1 job he would now get the chance to prove
it in court. I might even buy a postal money order in the amount of the
last installment due to attach a copy of to the court filing, indicating it
wasn't lack of funds that caused me to sue. The contractor surely wouldn't
be getting the last installment if I thought he did significant damage
because of substandard work practices. I would also have a *lot* of before
and after photos to submit as evidence, which I would have shown to the
contractor during our final negotiation.
The deal is *mostly* done when there's a "meeting of minds" about how much
the job was worth in reality, factoring in things like damage to
landscaping, poor quality work, etc. An interesting side note: if a
contractor used substandard materials, below the quality of the contract
specs, the statute of limitation can be suspended because of fraud and start
running again only when that fraud comes to light.
Contractor "fall off" is the main reason most smart people pay in
installments. If they get all their money up front, contractor interest
"falls off" greatly. (-: I have seen numerous cases where contractors have
done a job in a clearly substandard way and their workmen even admitted so
in court! (A good reason not to pay them in Popsicle sticks.)
In the big leagues it often has to do with concrete that didn't meet test
specs. In the homeowner's arena it can be as simple as not prepping a floor
before refinishing or cleaning a wall before painting. The contractor (and
this is the part that makes them really, really hate the court system) can
be liable for the additional cost to remove his work, in addition to him not
getting paid for the original job.
That is a pretty good reason for contractors to have a good boilerplate
contract. If you don't, and if you did a substandard job, you could really
lose in court. There is a possibility of not only not getting paid and you
could have to pay the cost of bringing the job back to the condition where
you screwed it up. Making the client "whole" again can get incredibly
expensive in the world of skyscrapers or bridges built with substandard
cement. Expect "tons" of litigation to come out of the NYC concrete
(That last story is the scariest - it says NYC officials haven't decided
whether they will retest completed buildings that were never correctly
tested in the first place. They KNOW how many cases of cans of worms that
would open all at once. I'm also sure lawyers have already contacted the
building owners to explain the statute of limitations to them and how if
THEY don't test, THEY could become liable for a building collapse!)
Unreasonable standards of care can certainly cost a lot for any contractor.
There are so many good contract templates out on the internet free that it's
crazy for a contractor not to download one and modify it for his particular
needs. Yet they often don't bother and wonder why they end up in court.
Michael Angelo: Thanks for alerting me to a possible moisture
problem. Why do you think it’s on my siding? The peeling spots
certainly were caused by moisture, but not from the inside.
'Prolly' excess humidity in house?