How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask CalAttorney2 Your Own Question
CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
71563194
Type Your Legal Question Here...
CalAttorney2 is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

We hired a landscape contractor and the oral agreement we had

This answer was rated:

We hired a landscape contractor and the oral agreement we had was not followed by him. We will have to have some of the work redone. He also made us pay over20% at signing then half of balance at start of work. We also had a signed contract and as far as it goes, he followed that. e has been uncommunicative with us, except when his wife calls for the remainder of money. He has never seemed interested in his work or if we were happy with it. No follow up. Where do we stand with our rights?

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, thank you for choosing Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I would like to assist you today.

Customer:

Thank you in advance for any help

William B. Esq. :

I am sorry to learn of this situation with your landscaper. I want to ensure that I understand the situation properly. You have a contractor that had 2 contracts: 1 a written contract, that was roughly followed; and 2 an oral contract that he breached. Is that correct?

William B. Esq. :

(It is my pleasure to work with you).

Customer:

Yes

William B. Esq. :

Okay, the breach of oral contract is actionable (I assume this happened less than 2 years ago). How much money was at issue in the oral contract?

William B. Esq. :

(Plus you can be compensated for the damage/litter he left behind)

Customer:

$13,400 was the contract. Which is a very high quote, which I realize now.

William B. Esq. :

How much is in dispute? (Meaning, if you have not paid him in full, how much does he want, OR; if you have paid him, how much do you want back)?

Customer:

He wants $5,450.00 more.

William B. Esq. :

Okay, one further question - do you have an idea of the approximate value of the work the contractor actually did (this can be a lower end value - but reasonable).

Customer:

$5000.00

William B. Esq. :

Alright, the contractor, by breaching his contract is not entitled to compensation under a strict interpretation of contract law. However, under a theory of equitable law, he is entitled to "quantum meruit" compensation, or the value of the work that he actually performed.


This means that if the contractor attempts to enforce the terms of the contract (in a small claims suit - California's small claims limitation is $10,000.00 in dispute, your amount in dispute is the full value of the contract minus the amount paid), he will claim the full value, you can assert as a defense (1) breach of contract by plaintiff; (2) amount paid


Here are 2 websites that are helpful for small claims actions (CA Courts and CA Dept of Consumer Affairs):


http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm


http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/


The good part, is you do not have to worry about this until and unless your contractor files suit against you (unless you want to file a lawsuit to recover the additional money that you feel you overpaid him.

Customer:


We just want to forget him. The money paid is money spent, We didn't get what we asked for but it is a start. I have hired another company (fully checked into ) and it is another $3800. We are willing to pay that but not willing to pay any more moneys to the first contractor.

Customer:

I have filed a complaint with Ca. contractors licensing agency

William B. Esq. :

That is one thing you can do. A regulatory complaint with a licensing agency will not result in any compensation for you, but they will look into the acts or actions of the professional (it won't make him very happy).

William B. Esq. :

You can try mediation through BBB or a similar agency as well if you wish, but frankly, with a complaint against his license I do not know if that will be effective.

Customer:

Exactly. My thoughts are to just not pay. We really thought we would reach an agreement today. But when you have an appointment, you should keep it or call and explain that you will be late. So, that didn't happen and I have a feeling (from the tire marks on the drive) we won't be meeting, again. So, if I understand right, just let it be and see if he files

William B. Esq. :

I can't give you legal advice or instruction, but your position is defensive as opposed to offensive in this situation - unless you wish to pursue the smaller amount you believe you overpaid, or want to file a lawsuit for "declaratory relief" to say that the contract was breached - which isn't a very cost effective tool, you really don't have anything further to do. If he takes action, then you can bring your defenses.

William B. Esq. :

While I do not know if this is going to be an issue, the time frame for contractor's mechanic's liens are very short, so here is a link to the State Contractor's Board website on how to deal with them if they are filed and what your procedure is to oppose one if it is filed against your home: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/consumers/legalissuesforconsumers/mechanicslien/understandingmechanicsliens.asp

Customer:

Thank you. It was good to talk with you. I guess I will rate you now, as our work here is done, lol.

William B. Esq. :

Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thanks for using our service, and have a great weekend. If you have further questions, please let me know.

CalAttorney2 and 13 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you

Related Legal Questions