Dealing with property damage is stressful. Especially when it’s caused by someone you hired to improve your space, it’s not fun to deal with as a homeowner. When contractors damage your house, it’s hard to know what to do. Depending on the severity of the damage, contractors can face serious jail time for breaking things during a project. Whether it’s a broken window or a major structural issue, knowing what to do if a contractor damages your property is crucial.
Dealing with Property Damage by Contractors
As a property owner, you are entitled to have the work done as agreed in the contract. If a contractor damages your property, they are generally responsible for repairing or compensating for the damage. We aren’t dealing with properties in Monopoly that aren’t worth any value. It’s a huge deal if a contractor damages your home.
How accountable are contractors when they break things during a project? This varies based on the contract terms and nature of the damage. Review your contract for any clauses related to damage or liability. In some cases, contractors are required to have liability insurance! This should cover the costs of repairing any damages caused during the work.
Steps to Take After Property Damage Occurs
When you discover the damage, the first step is to document it thoroughly. Take clear photos or videos of the damage from various angles. This evidence will be helpful to prove how and when the damage occurred.
Many properties that get wholesaled to investors come with damages. It’s important to identify when the damage happened and by who. This guide on wholesaling real estate outlines what to expect when dealing with off-market properties. Keep a look out for existing damages before diving into a project.
Notify Contractor in Writing
Next, notify the contractor immediately. It’s best to do this in writing, such as an email or a certified letter. This keeps a good record of your communication. Give them the opportunity to inspect the damage and propose a solution. In many cases, reputable contractors will be willing to fix the issue at no extra cost.
Navigating Insurance Claims
If the contractor is insured, file a claim with their insurance company. Contact the contractor to get their insurance information. When filing a claim, be prepared with all the documentation of the damage and any correspondence with the contractor. A good insurance company will call an adjuster and tell them about the property damage situation. From here, they will go out to your property and see how bad the damage is and calculate compensating you.
Be aware that this process can take time. The initial offer may not cover all your repair costs. You have the right to negotiate or seek legal advice if the compensation seems insufficient. If the claim doesn’t satisfy the financial and emotional damages you’ve suffered from the contractor damaging your home, you can close this chapter and move on. Selling a home with an open insurance claim is an option. However, it’s about finding the right house buyer who purchases property as-is. They won’t mind if there are existing damages when they buy your house.
When to Consider Litigation
If the contractor is unresponsive, unwilling to fix the damage, or the insurance claim doesn’t cover your losses, consider legal action. Consult with an attorney who specializes in property damage or construction law. They can let you know how strong your case is. If your case doesn’t carry much weight, you’ll know not to sue the contractor.
Litigation is typically long and expensive. Use this as a last resort when deciding what to do when a contractor damages your property. Sometimes, mentioning that you are consulting with a lawyer can prompt a contractor to take your claims more seriously. Don’t be afraid to flex on a contractor who broke items throughout your house.
Preventing Future Property Damage
Choose the Right Contractor
To prevent such incidents in the future, choose a contractor you can trust. Look for licensed and insured professionals with good reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask for proof of insurance and check their credentials. A reputable contractor should be transparent about their qualifications. If they want your business, they should be happy to provide references from previous clients.
Documentation and Evidence
In any case of property damage, document all evidence. Keep a detailed record of all communications with the contractor. This includes emails, texts, and notes from phone calls. Store all documentation related to the project. For example, the contract, invoices, and payment receipts are things to organize. This evidence will be invaluable if you need to file an insurance claim or take legal action.
Establish Effective Communication with Your Contractor
Effective communication with your contractor is crucial, particularly when handling disputes or damages. Open and transparent dialogue can often lead to a quicker resolution. When addressing the damage, be clear and factual about what has occurred. Encourage the contractor to discuss their viewpoint and possible solutions.
Misunderstandings can often escalate into bigger issues. Maintain a calm, respectful tone. Document these conversations as they may become important if the situation progresses to insurance claims or legal action. If necessary, consider a mediation service to facilitate communication and find a mutually agreeable solution.
Understanding Construction Laws
Different regions have varying laws regarding construction. This makes contractor responsibilities different depending on where you are. Familiarize yourself with local building codes and contractor licensing requirements. Protect yourself and understand the laws contractors must adhere to. If a contractor has violated local regulations, this may strengthen your case in an insurance claim.
Dealing with Property Damaged Caused by a Contractor
Dealing with property damage caused by a contractor can be a frustrating experience. Understand your rights, take immediate action, and be prepared. Don’t hesitate to pursue legal action against a contractor that destroyed your property. Stand up for yourself and protect your home.