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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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A contractor hired to level home has dug a large ditch without

Customer Question

A contractor hired to level home has dug a large ditch without my knowledge or permission and destroyed a cement walkway and patio. He is refusing to repair same.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
I am sorry to learn of this situation.Did you have a written contract, or estimate, from this contractor prior to the start of work?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I had an agreement to level the house there was nothing said about destroying walkway, patio or ditch.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
contractor says destruction was necessary to drain water from under house
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
Unfortunately, the scope of work with house leveling often includes removing sidewalks and patios that adjoin or abut the slab or foundation (there really is no way around this).However, I do think that your construction contract is at least a little bit sloppy. Most contractors will include a clause that discusses what is going to be removed, how it will be replaced, or if it will be replaced (to avoid disputes later on).Depending on the amount in question (how much it is going to cost you to replace the sidewalk and patio), you may want to consider mediation with the contractor to try to get him to at least contribute to the cost of replacement, or contribute labor to it. - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There was no contract, just an agreement and no fore warning was given about the destruction. in addition there was really no need for the ditch to be dug and two there was another shorter route that did not require the destruction
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
after ditch was dug I was told that he was going to add a drain pipe to a city catch basin so there would be no more flooding under house. he has refused to add drain pipe
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
I would recommend mediation for this type of issue. Keep in mind, I don't have all of the facts of your case, but in general, house leveling does end up destroying a lot of adjoining structures (sidewalks and patios are almost always damaged). I don't claim to have the answer to your specific situation as I don't have all of the facts of your case - so please don't take this as specific legal advice. But I can tell you how you would go about bringing a claim against the contractor.If you do decide to sue the contractor, you can sue for negligence. This is a standard of care issue, and you would have to bring in an expert (another contractor in the same field, or an engineer that can testify regarding what the proper scope of work would be for this type of project), they can testify as to whether your contractor's work fell below the standard of care, as well as whether the damage was outside what was actually required for the job. (As you can see, litigation can get a little pricey, which is why I recommend mediation as a good first step - if mediation fails, you can always sue afterwards).
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
your answers are very general and can be found on just about any web site for free, you are definitely not worth your 45.00 basically you are tell me that a contractor can come onto my property and tear up and destroy anything he see fit to accomplish his goals " the means justifies the end" what a crock
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
We cannot provide you with a specific legal opinion (it both violates the terms of service that we both agree to in order to use the forum, and it is a violation of my rules of professional conduct - since I do not have all of the facts to form such an opinion, this is what you would provide a local attorney with in a consultation so that they could assist you in deciding whether or not it is worth hiring that construction expert to sue the contractor, etc.).This forum is very helpful for customers to take a look at the damages (in your case, how much is it going to cost to replace your sidewalk and your patio) and decide the next step - should I hire a mediator for a half day to try to work out a solution with the contractor, or is this something I want to go and hire a civil litigation attorney for and pursue a civil judgment against the contractor (meaning, do I have several thousand dollars in damages - or more - that I need repaired and the contractor isn't going to budge).I do believe that mediation is probably going to be your best bet, and I do hope that the information on standard of care is helpful in identifying the issues you will want to raise with the mediator to help negotiate your position.

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