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Out-of-state court case highlights common contractor dispute

Unless you've done your research or know what you're looking for in a good contractor, hiring someone to renovate your home can be a risky decision. You may not know what to look for as far as certification. You may not even know if you're supposed to ask about licensing either. When this happens, you could find yourself at the end of a contractor dispute later on, especially if something goes wrong with the project you hired them to complete.

This was a concern we addressed in a January post where we helped our San Diego readers identify traits of both a good and a bad contractor. But because it's difficult for some people to visualize what they could be getting themselves into without the help of an example, we wanted to take time this week to present an out-of-state case that showcases a common contractor dispute: breach of contract.

The case, which was outlined in a Courthouse News Service article this month, involves a North Carolina woman who hired a contractor she believed to be licensed to do work on her home. After paying him more than $278,000 over the course of several months, the woman started to question if the project was going to meet the "agreed-upon deadline." During a meeting, the woman claims that the contractor threatened her with bodily harm if she didn't give him further payment for his work. One month later, her lawsuit claims, the contractor "angrily drew a handgun […] and demanded that [she] leave him alone unless she would pay him more money."

According to the Courthouse News Service article, when the woman stopped making payments, the contractor abandoned the project. Now, on top of breach of contract, the woman is suing for punitive damages in conjunction with his threats and unfair business practices, such as lying about being a licensed contractor and hiring unlicensed subcontractors to do work. She is also requesting the money she did pay to be returned.

Although this out-of-state case illustrates a worst-case scenario contractor dispute, it should show our California readers that they can seek compensation through civil litigation. With the help of a lawyer, you may even be able to recoup most, if not all, funds that were lost during the course of the project and hold the contractor accountable for their actions as well.

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