After construction litigation begins, every homeowner inevitably thinks about what they could have done to prevent the nightmare of being stuck with an unfinished project. As in any case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Prior to hiring a builder a property owner should consider doing at least the following to help protect themselves from an unscrupulous or incompetent builder:
1. Check references of previous work. You might be surprised by what you hear. Doing your homework is a simple step, however, it can save you a lot of headaches and possibly a Georgia litigation.
2. Get in your car and go view the previous work. You might be surprised by what you see.
3. Make sure your agreement is in writing and covers all important points. Establish deadlines and completion metrics.
4. If the project warrants it, you may want to get a real estate attorney to help negotiate and write the agreement between you and the builder. Paying an attorney a few hundred or a few thousand dollars will almost definitely be cheaper than what you will pay for a Georgia litigation.
5. Ensure that all materials are paid for prior to them going on to your property, if the builder does not pay for the, lets say the lumber, then the supplier will likely put a lien on your property and demand payment. Clearly, you do not want to pay someone twice for the supplies.
6. Ensure that you know of any subcontracts that will be used and ensure they are paid for their work. Again, you do not want to pay someone twice for the same thing and you definitely do not want to have to pay for a Georgia litigation if you can avoid it.
7. Ensure payment terms are such that they require work to be performed in order to receive payment. Only hand over money that you are prepared to lose, because you just might. You want to have the builder to have an incentive to work, not just take your money. On the other hand, do not be so tight as to appear that you are not going to pay.
8. As the customer, you need to pay on time and only make necessary changes. If you make changes, you need to get those changes in writing, signed by both parties, and clarify whether there is any additional cost.
9. Take pictures or video of the before, during and after.
10. Keep all paperwork. Demand receipts and a written change orders be signed by both parties which detail any changes and the associated costs.
If your contractor walks off the job, please read our article: What to do if a Contractor/ Builder Walks off the Job.
At Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys, Georgia injury lawyer John Breakfield welcomes anyone with any litigation or reimbursement questions to Call or Email Us. Please remember that all personal injury and reimbursement initial consultations are free of charge.
About the author: John Breakfield is an attorney with Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys in Gainesville, Georgia and handles matters regarding litigation surrounding contractors/ subcontractors and home/ property owners. Our law office can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), White County (Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Gwinnett County (Buford, Sugar Hill, Lawrenceville), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), Jackson County (Braselton, Jefferson) and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.