my new home (2 yrs old) has wiring problems stemming from incorrect wiring installed .

Who is liable for the incorrect wiring installed the builder or the electrician who did the installation? Currently it is a safety hazard and a fire could occur.

Asked on June 13, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Kansas

Answers:

Sean C Santoro / Santoro Traffic Law Office

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Sean Santoro

Attorney at Law

Licensed in KS and MO

    Potentially they can both be liable. I wouldn't wait for the outcome of a lawsuit to correct the problem. Inform both parties in writing of the problem and tell them if it isn't resolved immediately you will fix it yourself and sue them. Call me at 913 441 5025 or sean@roadlawyer.net if I can be of assistance.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Both would potentially be liable--electrician as the contractor who did the work, the builder as the one who hired the contractor. However, unless *you* contracted with the electrician, then your party to sue is the builder (the one you had the contract with) and in turn, the builder could look to recover from the electrician.

If the flaws were things that you were on notice of when you bought, or reasonably should have been on notice of (i.e. some problems were obvious, like sparking when lights were turned on, or were things your home inspector caught) when you bought, your builder could probably raise a reasonable defence, if it came to a lawsuit, that by buying the home when you were aware of the problems, you accepted them and waived your right to complain of them later.

If that's not the case, then you are good shape to recover. If it's a safety issue, since safety comes first, you should begin the process of remediating the problem. You should probably get 2-3 quotes from electricians about fixing it, then take them right away to the builder and ask them to either pay for the repairs with an electrican you'll contract or to provide their own electrician to repair it. If the builder refuses, then if you can afford the repairs, you should probably get them done than ask for repayment from the builder. (By getting quotes in advance, you strengthen your case that you selected a reasonably priced electrician to do the work and were not frivolous with the builder's money.) If the builder still refuses to contribute, your next option then is to go ahead and sue, though you should, as a practical matter, always weight the cost of the lawsuit vs. the amount you might  win. Even if you're legally in the right, if the work ends up costing, $3,000 say, to fix, it's hard to imagine that a lawsuit would be worth it economically (whether it's worth it emotionally is obviously a very personal decision). If it looks like it will come to a lawsuit, see if you can't set a free or low-priced consultation from a lawyer to evaluate whether to go ahead.


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