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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Default Contractor Won't Discuss Home Repairs With the Homeowner

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Iowa

    Our home burned down in March. My husband and I are listed as equal owners of the property. My husband procured a contractor to rebuild our home. He signed the contract and has been handling this from day one. Most recently, after the builder exhausted 92k on nothing but a foundation I contacted this contractor. I requested any and all copies of invoices received and paid to date, considering the bank made me fiduciary of the funds and not the contractor.

    The contractor now is refusing to discuss anything about MY property with me, and downright is refusing to materialize the paperwork requested. What is my legal standpoint on this issue. Please advise.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,726

    Default Re: Home Burned, Trying to Rebuild But

    If you are the fiduciary in control of the funds, how was the contractor paid a penny without you being presented with a bill?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,060

    Default Re: Contractor Won't Discuss Home Repairs With the Homeowner

    Quote Quoting Mzjaxon714
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    What is my legal standpoint on this issue.
    None.

    You didn't sign the contract.

    Why aren't you bugging your husband about this?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    47.606 N 122.332 W in body, still at 90 S in my mind.
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    Default Re: Contractor Won't Discuss Home Repairs With the Homeowner

    There is a lot of missing information that we would need to give you any meaningful answers.
    1)What was the nature of the contract? Was this a lump sum job or time and materials? If lump sum it would be standard practice to overbill upfront and underbill at the back end, it all comes out even.

    2)What is the final value of the contract and how is it broken out? Does it contain individual line items for foundation, framing, etc or just the one big number?

    3)It would be unusual for a contractor to provide information regarding invoicing from subs and suppliers to the customer. This is the sort of thing that causes all sorts of friction when customers see what the mark up is on these things. This is not because the mark up is unreasonable but because most customers don't understand that part of MU is for covering overhead. Also, customers simply aren't entitled to see those unless it's spelled out in the contract. Usually this would be on NTE or cost+ projects. In any event, providing invoicing of suppliers and subs to client would be something covered in the Terms & Conditions in the contract. Are there provisions for providing this information?

    4)As mentioned above, you aren't the client, your husband is. As such the contractor has no duty you. Has your husband attempted to get this information from the contractor?

    5)Is the contractor bonded? If so, and the contractor cannot complete the project for the agreed upon amount (minus some other bonding complexities) you can make a claim on the bond. If the contractor is not bonded you will end up eating it and being left with a lawsuit as your only course of action. This is why a good contractor is licensed, bonded and insured. IF the contractor is bonded do you know the amount of the bond and does the amount of the bond exceed the projected cost of the project?

    6)What are the T&Cs and what are the exclusions? Are things included in the current completed work that are listed in the exclusions? If so, this would account for the excessive costs. Also, if excluded items have been added in then there should be change ordered that include those costs. Does your husband have these?

    If this is a lump sum project the contractor must perform (See above) if he cannot complete the project for the agreed upon price without going into debt, that is the price for his inefficiency. However, do you know if your hubby has requested any changes or additions to the original contract? If so, that can explain higher than anticipated costs.

    I've used the scattergun technique here as you've provided virtually no information except your complaint. Be warned that even poor contractors have lawyers create their contract templates that can be tough to get around for the client. Yes, contracts are drawn up in the contractors favor unless you redline it and have it modified until you both come to an agreement. This is possible...but now is too late. This is not to say that you have no recourse, just that it's not easy or cheap without the cooperation of the contractor. At the end of the day your husband, not you, can sue the contractor. But then no work will be completed on your home.

    Anyway, if you answer the above questions more help can be provided. If this seems a bit muddled I apologize. I'm still drinking my coffee.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,337

    Default Re: Contractor Won't Discuss Home Repairs With the Homeowner

    Quote Quoting Mzjaxon714
    View Post
    Most recently, after the builder exhausted 92k on nothing but a foundation I contacted this contractor.
    The contractor now is refusing to discuss anything about MY property with me, and downright is refusing to materialize the paperwork requested. What is my legal standpoint on this issue. Please advise.
    Most often when a house burns to the ground, the foundation remains intact depending on what material it is constructed of. It may need some repair from heat damage but not replacing.

    Are you building the house with a different footprint because 92K for a foundation seems rather excessive or this is a very large house.

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