If a plumber provides an estimate for a repair and I agree but in the end does not do what they promised, am I liable for the entire cost?

UPDATED: Jan 10, 2012

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If a plumber provides an estimate for a repair and I agree but in the end does not do what they promised, am I liable for the entire cost?

I signed an agreement to allow a plumber to perform a repair at a quoted price. The plumber did not complete the job in the time promised and to what I agreed to. Am i liable for the full amount of the quoted price if I want to hire someone else to complete the job?

Asked on January 10, 2012 under General Practice, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the plumber for breach of contract.  When there is a material breach of the contract, which is a breach that goes to the heart of the contract, the basis of the bargain, you can sue the plumber for breach of contract without tendering your performance (making the payment).

Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit for breach of contract) if you hire someone else to complete the work would be the cost of completion.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by hiring another plumber whose fees are comparable to other plumbers in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive plumber you could find to complete the work, you will have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordingly.

If the first plumber was hired to do multiple projects, then a failure to complete one project would not breach the entire contract, but would only breach one project.  You would then have to accept performance of the other projects and would have to pay for the other projects that were satisfactorily completed. 

If you decide to sue the plumber for breach of contract, depending on the amount involved, you may be able to file the lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  In addition to the damages mentioned above, your damages should also include court costs which would be the court filing fee and process server fee. 


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