What to do about payinga contractor for work that had to be re-done in order to comply with code?

I recently purchased my first home. Right now there is a contractor that is fixing the house. The house was $60,000 and I had to take an additional $32,000 for repairs. Now the contractor is trying to make my pay for a lot of stuff out of my own pocket. Some of these things he didn’t do right the first time according to village standards so he had to redo it and I have to pay. Not only pay him more but at 10% Interest. He wants my wife and me to sign a contract. My wife isn’t even on the loan.

Asked on November 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When you hire a contractor, there is an agreement between you (it should be written--that's always best, and avoids many misunderstandings or disputes--but could be oral). In that contract, you agree to pay the contractor for doing certain work; furthermore, that work must be legal (i.e. up to code) and while it does not need to be perfect, must meet reasonable commercial standards of quality for that industry.

If the contractor fails to do what you asked him, or fails to do work that passes code, or fails to perform at a reasonable quality level (though this last one, since it is more subjective, is harder to prove), he either has to redo the work at his cost, or else pay damages equal to the cost of having it corrected or the diminution in value. You should pay for work occasioned by his violation of the agreement or building/housing/etc. code.

The exception would be if the failures were due to something you did--if, for example, you made him use a certain quality or type of material, or specifically had him do things in a certain way, that would not pass code. If you caused the failure, then you would have to pay to remediate it. However, again, if the failure was his, he should pay for the remediation or repair, and you'd only pay for any changes to specifications or additional work you decide to have done at that time.

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