April 18, 2013

How do you handle a renovation that is less than a year old but is already showing signs of serious issues? What can you do and who is responsible for the lack of quality materials or construction?

The majority of major renovations, such as a complete kitchen or bathroom project, will inevitably need some adjustments following its completion. Consequently, warranty terms should always be discussed in detail and put into the contractual agreement before you and your renovator sign binding documents. In addition, when you are checking references of potential remodeling contractors, it wouldn’t hurt to ask about the responsiveness of the contractor after the job was completed.

Responsibilities of the Contractor
With a few exceptions, it is the responsibility of the contractor to repair things that break or start to malfunction, such as doors that fail to close smoothly or faucets that drip within several weeks of being installed. Even if a sink begins to leak or more than one cabinet door falls off after two years have passed, reputable contractors will return to inspect the problem, determine if it is due to low-quality material or amateur craftsmanship and make repairs accordingly.

According to Degnan Design Group’s Tom Degnan, all contractors and builders offer one year warranties, even though no standard policies regarding warranties exist in the construction industry simply because remodeling projects vary so greatly.

When Litigation is Needed
If renovation projects suffer from repeated problems and contractors fail to or directly refuse to honor a signed warranty, then home/apartment owners may need to take them to court.

Issues with architectural aspects of a remodeling project should be covered by liability insurance for what the law called “errors and omissions”. Only when a claim is made and the architect is found to be responsible for faults in the design does an architect’s insurance take over, which is indicates to the insurance company that the problem has not been solved amiably.

Design components involving structural facets such as beams, roof or floor framing are examples of valid claims that could be made against architects. In addition to filing legal action against an architect, clients can also involve builders in the litigation.

How to Avoid Problems with Contractors
You can easily avoid future issues with a planned renovation project by hiring established, experienced contractors who can provide ample references, licenses and pictures of previous projects. Preliminary questions to ask a potential contractor include when can you start the job, how many jobs of this type have you completed, how long have you been in the remodeling business and how accurate are your estimates?

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