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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Can I fire a construction team? I believe they breached the

Resolved Question:

Can I fire a construction team? I believe they breached the written and verbal contracts?

The construction team and I have both agreed not to continue working together; however, they are trying to make me sign a "mutual rescission and release of contract", which basically says that I can make no further claims against them. I'm not comfortable with this, as I am planning on reporting them to the Contractor's State License Board. Unfortunately, no permit was pulled for this job. I am under a serious time crunch and the construction team is threatening to pull a permit and force a long city inspection process if I do not sign. Do I have sign this? I'm fine with releasing the contract, but not happy about releasing my ability to file claims.

I hoping I can avoid signing if I state some law that allows me to fire for misconduct and null all existing contracts. I really don't want to loose my rights to file claims but more importantly, I don't want a permit pulled (which they are threatening to do).

Background Info:
My construction company, which I hired to perform commercial tenant improvements, has been trying to charge me more for work. The contract is very vague. It says that for x dollars they will "remove lights and install light fixtures of my choice". Before signing the contract, I verbally explained this in detail, saying the removing the lights entails removing all florescent fixtures, closing up the space with ceiling tiles and installing a combination of recessed and flush mount fixtures. They did not say I was limited in the type or quantity lighting I could choose. When it came time to do the work, they sent me an email saying that they were only contracted to "move" the fluorescent lights to accommodate the new rooms. I pointed out the verbiage in the contract. They back-peddled and now said that they only bid the job for one light room (I need 2 because the rooms are large). After many back and forths (all documented via email), we decided to part ways. Now with the threat of pulling a permit should I not sign their contract. Also to be noted, I have not supplied a final payment. They are also threatening to a pull a permit should I not pay them in full.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 1 year ago.

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, thank you for using our service. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I would like to assist you today.

William B. Esq. :

I am sorry to hear that this construction crew is failing to perform under the terms of your contract. Just so that I can better understand the situation, is a permit required to do this type of work under your local building code?

Customer:

Hi Bill.

Thank you for taking the time to provide some guidance.

Customer:

Yes, a permit is required

Customer:

The nature of the job is plumbing, drywall and electrical (which is the problem area). They were also making a ADA compliant bathroom

William B. Esq. :

Understood, thank you.

William B. Esq. :

The threat of going to the city to pull a permit does not necessarily reach the level of blackmail or coercion regarding the contract (as the permit is required), but if the contract is terminated (you tell them that you do not want them to do any further work on the project, including both physical labor, and any clerical work, permit work, or any other efforts, their further conduct can be construed as both a breach of contract and a tortious interference with business relations.


They may have a strong position over you given the nature of your need to quickly finish construction without pulling a permit, but they are still in breach of contract, and their pay is completely reliant on finishing their work. If they did not do the work performed you cannot be forced to pay them.

William B. Esq. :

(My apologies that should read: "If they did not do the work required to be performed you cannot be forced to pay them")

William B. Esq. :

The breach of contract / tortious interference claims could be used to threaten that the contractors are responsible for all "reasonably foreseeable future losses stemming from their ongoing conduct" (such as pulling a permit without authorization). I do not know how successful the claim would be in court, but it would at least have merit.

Customer:

Thank you Bill. I understand what you are saying. My concerning is that if I don't sign their release, I'm fearful that they would pull the permit. Are you saying that if I sent them a message saying that I don't want to do any further work (etc) that would take away their legal right to pull a permit?

Customer:

...therefore I would not sign their release.

William B. Esq. :

They do not have the right to pull a permit on your behalf after you release their services. (They are no longer your agent). They can report the work done without a permit, but they are running a risk as well, being licensed contractors doing non-permitted work.

William B. Esq. :

The release is an easy way to terminate services on both sides (it is "clean"), but if they are not performing under the terms, and you send them a notice that you are terminating it due to their failure to perform, and identify any terms that you are willing to pay as compensation for their work already done ("quantum meruit"), you will have identified the termination, they can file suit if they believe they have fully performed (they will have to show this), and you can go from there (but it would require them to actually file a lawsuit showing they fully performed under the terms of your contract).

Customer:

Ok. Thank you. I believe that answers my initial/primary questions.

Customer:

Before I close out, do you know anything about the Contractor's State License Board. After this is all over, I would like to report them. I read that by law in california a contractor must not d work without a permit (even if requested). If I reported this, do you know what would be the penalty for me (if any)?

William B. Esq. :

Depending on the scope of your work, it is possible that you will end up coming under scrutiny (required to pull a permit and undergo inspections to get the work approved). The scope of this post-permitting process, and any penalties, is something that is fact specific (some work is easily visible and can be inspected without any tear-down, while other work does require this kind of work). - In sum, if you report the contractor for doing non-permitted work, you do run a risk of having to get the permits pulled after the construction is done, and paying the penalty plus undergoing any associated costs if the work cannot be passed on a visual inspection.

Customer:

Gotcha. I figured that.

Customer:

Well, thank you again for answering my questions!

William B. Esq. :

You are welcome. Thank you for using our service, I do appreciate your business. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and please do not forget to rate my answer. I do wish you the best of luck in this matter, and hopefully it will resolve itself quickly (the threat of a lengthy investigation is daunting, but a contractor's liability makes it somewhat hollow).

Customer:

thank you again!! I appreciate it :)

William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4189
Experience: Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq.
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Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.