One of the first things a contractor learns and is advised to do by training institutions and Contractors Boards alike is to retain an attorney before they begin their contracting business. Makes sense, given the problems and challenges that are likely to arise for the “newbie” or up and coming general contractor. Truth be told, the majority of contractors are not personally well-versed in business management and ethics. More importantly, there are those individuals who are lured by the potential to make a whole lot of money – easily – and aren’t committed to truly building a business; there out to get their hands on the consumers hard-earned money.
Given this very real scenario, it is imperative that homeowners consult with an attorney specializing in construction / defect law before they hire a contractor and sign a contract. Even if it’s just a kitchen remodel – which requires a number of different tradesmen, where important decisions will need to made, with consistent supervision, permits etc – having an attorney review andred line the contract is key. After that, a homeowner needs to have that attorney in their back pocket should issues or questions arise, just like the contractor. And if you’re remodeling or building from the ground up, you absolutely need to consult with an attorney. There’s just too much that can go wrong or overlooked legally in terms of protection and your rights.
Does consulting with and retaining an attorney guarantee a perfect, problem-free home remodeling project? No – there are no guarantees in life that I’m aware of other than death and taxes BUT you will be able to mitigate anyunforeseen problems, have greater control over your project and have some assurances that your behind is covered. Additionally, you’ll have access to your legal queries more quickly than if you had no one or no idea of who to turn to when you need them the most. Like the contractor who is advised to seek legal representation before beginning the business of contracting a homeowner needs to do the same before contracting with a home remodeling contractor.
We had the same thing happen in So California after the wildfires. I sat on the "Don't Get Scammed" panel where experts shared ways in which to avoid scammers and unethical contractors. These guys definitely seek out unsuspecting victims who are hurting. Shameful but they're out there and it's up to homeowners to protect themselves.