How do I sue an unlicensed contractor that does a bad job on my property and reported me to the city that I remodel w/o permit

Asked over 2 years ago - San Jose, CA

I did not know that he has no license as we have known him and trusted him to do job in our property since we first bought our house 15 years ago. I stopped him from doing more when I found out that he has no licensed. He charges me 120K in total and now I have to redo everything the right away and don't have anymore money to fix the problem, what should I do now? The city received the complaint and for our safety we have to fix lots of things, how can I get him to pay for all this?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Frank Wei-Hong Chen

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . California Business & Professions Code section 7031(b) gives consumers who have contracted with unlicensed contractors the ability to sue for restitution or reimbursement of all monies paid to the unlicensed contractor for "any act or contract. "

    Given the amount of money at stake, you ought to hire a litigation attorney to handle this for you. Unfortunately, the chances that you will actually be able to collect from the unlicensed contractor is much smaller than from a licensed contractor.

    if you have no money to pay for an attorney and/or to pay for the remedial work, you are probably out of luck.

    The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice.... more
  2. Robin Mashal

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

    Attorney Chen is correct. Under California law, a person who is not licensed as a contractor is not entitled to compensation for work performed. You may be able to recover the moneys you already spent, and other damages for poor construction. Feel free to contact our office for a consultation.

  3. George William Wolff

    Contributor Level 13

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The law allows you to recover back all money you paid him even if his work was perfect.

    If the work was defective, the law also allows you to recover the cost of repair plus other damages.

    This would require a lawsuit.

    There is an article on our website on this topic (see link below), or you can call us if you have further questions.

    George Wolff
    (415)788-1881, ext 222

    This is NOT legal advice, just a general discussion of the law, as we are not familiar with the specific... more
  4. Nichelo Michael Campbell

    Contributor Level 11

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The prior answers are essentially correct. It does not even matter if the contractor started the job with a license and then lost it partway through. The contractor must be "duly licensed at all times while performing the contract." If the contractor wasn't properly licensed at all such times, they are not entitled to ANY compensation. Contractors have been found to be improperly licensed when they don't have the proper license for the work they contracted, they work outside the scope of their contract, when they have failed to carry workers' compensation insurance but employed workers, and if they have underreported their payroll, even if they had workers' compensation insurance. Not only is an unlicensed contractor not entitled to compensation but you can sue to recover all money already paid to him/her, including money that was earmarked for materials which the contractor purchased directly Additionally, you may be entitled to treble damages up to $10,000.00 and your attorneys' fees and costs, even if there was no attorneys' fees clause in your contract, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 1029.8.

    You can also report the contractor to the Contractors' State License Board which has an arbitration program (limited in amount) and which may take disciplinary action. It is also criminal activity to perform construction work without a license. In my experience, however, with the current economy and budget cutbacks the CSLB can be slow to act.

    From a practical standpoint, an unlicensed contractor likely doesn't have the assets to satisfy a judgment and, thus, it may not be worth the expense to sue him/her. This is an important consideration if your main priority is completing the work on your house.

    You might also consider a construction defect claim to any lawsuit as this may trigger the contractor's insurance and provide a source of revenue at least for any work that wasn't done properly.

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