When one begins a building project, the planning stage is fundamental to successful project completion.
Part of the planning stage includes hiring contractors essential to the project’s construction and overall success.
However, disagreements frequently arise in construction projects due to timelines, coordination between contractors, purchasing material, and warrantying craftsmanship. Doing your due diligence ahead of time and clarify your’s and the contractor’s expectations before the project can eliminate uncomfortable confrontations.
Our May 29th, 2021 Blog “What Is Contract Law” discusses contract law; therefore, we won’t spend time on the essence of a contract. Instead, we look at key elements that should be in place to promote success rather than the breakdown of a project.
Let’s break it down by looking at the duties of the Contractors versus those of the Homeowners.
First & foremost, each side is responsible for upholding their end of the contract agreed upon between the parties. These could include duties such as:
- Contractor – Assess legal issues and regulatory requirements by obtaining the appropriate permits before construction. Provide a professional and competent workforce along with non-defective materials and equipment.
- Homeowner – Provide a collaborative & cooperative partnership and ensure financing is secured to cover the project’s cost along with any additional add-ons.
- Contractor – Provide a timetable of the projected finishing date along with updates of any adjustments to the timeline, maintaining open and honest communication with the owner.
- Homeowner – Provide a mapping of water lines, septic/sewer lines, sprinkler lines, electrical, etc., not covered under the dig-line survey. Prompt reviewing of changes and clarification will promote timely changes, avoidance of confusion & scheduling delays.
- Contractor – Oversee the project progress by supervising, scheduling, and inspecting the job site regularly from start to finish to ensure compliance with contract obligations and timeliness of project scheduling. Provide detailed invoice breakdown of work & material completion along with regular job site walkthroughs with homeowners.
- Homeowner – Pay each invoice upon receipt or within the agreed-upon timeframe written in the contract. Address all issues in a timely and professional manner to avoid missing the opportunity to correct the problem leading to possible future conflict.
- Contractor – Certifying the completion of the project through satisfying the construction or rehabilitation per the plans, specifications, scope of development, and budget agreed upon. Notices of completion have been filed, and statutory lien periods have been satisfied or released, certificate of occupancy is issued.
- Homeowner – Final walkthrough has been performed and signed off, and final payment made.
Both the owner and the contractor have entered a legally binding commitment to act in good faith throughout their contractual obligations. Contractors need to be aware that per the Idaho Contractors Registration Act (ICRA) Idaho Code 54-5214(2), a contractor registered pursuant to this chapter shall prominently display his contractor registration number for public view in his place of business, on advertising, contracts, permits, company or business letterheads, and purchase orders and subcontracts within sixty (60) days of issue of registration (Idaho Legislature). However, homeowners need to be aware of Idaho Code 6-2501, known as the construction defect Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (NORA). NORA requires homeowners to provide written notice of the claim in reasonable detail to the contractor before filing a lawsuit. If one should fail to provide a written notice, the courts will dismiss the lawsuit, giving the homeowner a statute of limitation of 60 days to file the written notice with the contractor. Once the contractor receives the written notice, they have 21 days to respond in writing, stating one of three things.
- The construction professional will inspect the defect and, after the inspection, propose a remedy, pay the owner, or dispute the claim;
- Offer to settle the claim; or
- Dispute the claim (Idaho Legislature).
In addition, homeowners must provide reasonable access to the property should the contractor want to inspect the area of concern. Once the contract has performed an inspection, they must give the homeowner a written offer to fix, offer of settlement, or a refusal to resolve within 14 days. Should the contractor not respond or the homeowner refuses the proposal in writing or fails to respond within 30 days, the offer can be terminated, and the homeowner may then sue. The existence of a written paper trail is of the utmost importance for both the contractor and the homeowner should the courts have to get involved in helping resolve the matter. By working together throughout the project, the homeowner and the contractor can forge a partnership that can lead to a successful project outcome while avoiding a costly and unpleasant lawsuit.
Should you have questions regarding your rights as the Contractor or as the Homeower here at Dean Law, PLLC, we are well versed in construction law and would be happy to provide you with a free 30-minute consultation to help you determine what would be your best mode of action.
Idaho Legislature. (n.d.). Idaho Legislature. Idaho State Legislature. https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title6/t6ch25/sect6-2503/.
Idaho Legislature. Idaho State Legislature. (n.d.). https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title54/T54CH52/SECT54-5214/.