Can we request our money back from an builder who delivered an unfinished set of plans?

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Can we request our money back from an builder who delivered an unfinished set of plans?

We paid a builder $10,000 to design plans to renovate and expand our house. Once the plans we accepted, we were going to use the company to complete the work. We set our budget for the renovation/addition at $350,000. We requested that the addition be expanded out the back of the house so we can get a basement in. The company said they couldn’t go out the back because of the Village’s building setback requirements. They proposed an addition in the front of the house. This required additional work including relocating stairs and reconfiguring rooms. They walked me through my existing house and asked me to tell them what I liked and what I’d like to see different in the renovated house. This created a wishlist which is great but at no time did they say it would cost as much as it did. They came back with a plan that was $586,288. That is so far over our budget that it makes it impossible to complete. To make things worse, we spoke with the Village and found that the builder didn’t do their homework and was using the wrong rear yard setback requirement. We could have expanded out back and cut cost down. Is it possible to get our money back?

Asked on December 30, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If they ignored your instructions (e.g. regarding budget) and did not do the work required of them (e.g. used the wrong setback), you could sue them for the money based on both of reach of contract (not doing what they agreed to do) and fraud (lying about what they could or would do). Unfortunately, suing them is the only way to get the money back if they won't voluntarily repay you (e.g. the BBB has *no power to require the refund); fortunately, it appears that $10k is still within the limits for your state's small claims court, so you can file in small claims as your own attorney ("pro se") to save on legal fees.


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