We built our custom luxury home in 2010. Since then, we've endured a long list of repairs and replacements due to shoddy workmanship and negligence, including building a groundwater well and perimeter gate incorrectly, necessitating the need for complete replacement. These repairs have caused nothing but financial and emotional stress to our family, especially because new defects seem to be popping up regularly. We would like to seek damages for past repairs, but also funds to inspect and repair any other ill constructed parts of the house so we no longer have to deal with these surprises moving forward (e.g our hVAC system had a leak and was systematically leaking freon, which needed constant service).
We're not sure if the contractor is still in business, but we do know that his subs don't work with him anymore. What is the best approach to this situation for optimal outcome?
Stressed out custom home owner
You have a few options depending upon the scope of the damages and the trades involved. If the scope is relatively limited, the Contractor's State License Board offers a arbitration program that is free of charge and is likely the most cost effective way to pursue a recovery. Material related to the CSLB's arbitration program can be found at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Resources/GuidesAndPublications/MandatoryArbitrationGuide.pdf.
You can also check to see if your general contractor is still in business on the CSLB webpage at www.cslb.ca.gov. Even if the general contractor is out of business, the CSLB webpage will have information on his contractor's bond. It may be possible to make a claim against the bond to pay an arbiter's award even if the general contractor is gone.
However the CSLB arbitration program has a dollar amount limitation and if your claim exceeds that amount then you may need to pursue litigation. You should contact a construction attorney in your area to review your claims and to advise whether there are any statute of limitations concerns, and/or the potential value of those claims.
I would go get a consultation from California Counsel experienced in construction and insurance law. Most attorneys will give a brief consultation for free and it may be worth hiring someone to assess what is going on beyond that (for a limited few hours) so you at least know your options. You want to ask around and get the best construction lawyer you can find in your area. Good luck.
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