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Architect intentionally mislead me about construction costs and failed to refund my retainer when I finally met the builder.

Hermosa Beach, CA |

I hired an architect in for a new construction project to redesign a house plan that came with a lot that I purchased. My verbal agreement with him was to only go forward with his services as long as the cost was at or below my set budget. He referred me to a builder that he works with and based on discussions of the proposed new building the builder claimed that he could easily build within my budget. Well, 2 years later after waiting for the CCC and paying him $9k in fees he provided nothing but a 3-D rendering of the new home he claimed the existing builder skipped town and referred me to two other builders he works with and those builders claimed the cost would be 2X my estimated budget. I'm 100% sure I should sue this architect misleading me just to earn the $9k fee. Any advice?

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer
Posted

You are within the limits to go to small claim court (up to $10,000) and the filing fee of only $75. The main disadvantage will be that you will have a very limited time (sometimes less than 5 minutes) to convince a Judge that the architect owes you the $9,000 or some money; that is your responsibility, prove up your case. There will be no discovery for you to be able to gather information to prove up your case before the trial day. The main advantage is that you will see a judge in about 30 to 45 days.

In the other hand, any case in superior court will take some time to reach to the trial level, sometimes more than a year and may not be that attractive to either you or counsel for the amount in litigation.

You should call an attorney in the area and you may get some help in pursuing your claim. Good luck.

Posted

Yes, hire a real estate or construction law attorney to straighten this out for you. There are way too many facts to describe on Avvo. You could be within the limits for a small claims court case or a regular civil case.

Nick Spirtos is in Santa Monica and handles cases throughout Southern California. I don't know if he'd be willing to represent you although call and ask. His profile is on Avvo.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. I was considering small claims since my loss is only $9k and attorney fees would eat up any possible recovery but I'll touch base with the attorney you've referred to see if this is something he can help for a a reasonable fee. Should small claims be the best option does anyone else have any advice on past cases or experience on dealing with scenarios where the client was mislead? I'm looking for some help as to whether these types of cases are worth fighting and if I have a fair chance of recovery?

Ruben Fuentes

Ruben Fuentes

Posted

The court are somehow sympathetic with consumers but not their advocates. Remember that your case is based on a "verbal agreement" with a big condition to "go forward with his services as long as the cost was at or below my set budget." Another disadvantage of small claim court is you cannot appeal if you (Plaintiff) lose.

Hillary Johns

Hillary Johns

Posted

You're welcome. Mr. Spirtos handles these cases on a regular basis and ought to give you an idea of how to proceed if it's a case he's willing to handle. Mr. Fuentes is right rearding the verbal agreement and small claims court.

Posted

You should really take all your documents and information to an attorney for a consultation.

A lot of additional information would be needed to answer your question.

Posted

Small Claims court is your most economical route. But if your contract has an attorney fees clause a good construction attorney can help.

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