As a homeowner, you rely on contractors to perform work on your property with care and professionalism. Unfortunately, not all contractors live up to these expectations, and property damage can occur as a result. If you're facing property damage caused by a contractor's work, you may be wondering if you can sue the contractor. Here's what you need to know.
The contractor's duty of care
Contractors have a duty of care to perform work on your property with the same level of skill and care that a reasonable contractor in their field would provide. If a contractor fails to meet this standard and causes property damage as a result, they may be liable for the damage.
Types of property damage
Property damage can take many forms, from cosmetic damage to more serious structural issues. Some common types of property damage caused by contractors include:
• Water damage from faulty plumbing or roofing
• Cracked or damaged foundations
• Slab leaks
• Electrical damage from faulty wiring
• Damage to flooring, walls, or ceilings
• Damage to fixtures such as cabinets, countertops, or appliances
How to prove liability
To enforce your legal rights against a contractor for property damage, you'll need to establish that the damage was caused by the contractor's negligence or breach of contract. This can be a complex process, and it's important to work with an attorney who understands the nuances of real estate law. Often, the lawyer will assess the strength of your case (often review your contractor agreement, change orders, photos, videos, written communications with the contractor, etc.). Based upon that review, the real estate attorney should be able to determine the viability of your case and identify the best method to seek recourse. For example, the real estate attorney may start the case with a demand for mediation. Or, alternatively, if the real estate attorney anticipates that informal methods of resolving the dispute will not be fruitful (if, for example, the contractor is unreasonable and/or non-responsive), the attorney may recommend immediate court intervention through the filing of a lawsuit against the contractor.
If you're successful in suing your contractor for property damage, you may be able to recover damages to cover the cost of repairs or replacement. These damages can include the cost of materials and labor, as well as any additional costs you incur as a result of the damage, such as temporary housing, storage costs, and/or attorney’s fees.
How to prevent property damage
The best way to prevent property damage from occurring in the first place is to work with reputable contractors who have a history of performing quality work. You can also take steps to protect your property by carefully reviewing your contractor agreement and ensuring that it includes provisions that require the contractor to take responsibility for any damage they cause.
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