Who gets held liable?

Fenix

Active member
Oct 30, 2023
34
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Let's be honest, try as we might to understand the permitting requirements surrounding our projects, we often fall short, so we rely on other professionals to sort them out. Now I'm wondering what happens when it all goes wrong. Who takes the liability when the building isn't up to code, the proper permits weren't pulled, and someone gets hurt due to a structural defect? Where does the liability lie when the homeowner tries to sell the home and only then finds out that the shed he had built on the property was over the square footage that was stated by the builder, thus he's failed to obtain the correct building permit for it? We're putting a lot of faith in builders, contractors, and developers. Do you ever worry about that?
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Location
United States
There are some worries that come into it. You're relying on these people, and sometimes they may have glowing reviews, it doesn't mean they can't make mistakes either. I would imagine the blame lies with the homeowner first. But, the homeowner would likely have a case against the contractor/builders who made the mistake. You could probably collect payment for any repairs/fixes that need to be made. I prefer the idea of having the builder come back to make the building to code first instead. And would also request the builder to pay for any permits and repairs. I think that's fair for getting the homeowner in such a situation.

One thing I'd recommend, is having someone else come in and inspect the work, even if the current contractor says all is good, it probably wouldn't hurt to get another contractor out to verify all is up to code.
 
@Jake, this reminds me of our previous discussion about that Atlanta news channel that was warning Georgia homeowners not to rush to hire contractors to make storm damage repairs. Some homeowners were hiring unlicensed contractors and then losing lots of money when those contractors later walked off the job. Homeowners don't always check to make sure the contractor they're hiring is properly licensed and bonded, which can be a major problem from a liability standpoint.

The best thing contractors can do to avoid potential liability issues and legal strife is to make sure they're fully licensed and bonded. For homeowners, the bonding in particular ensures the necessary funds are available to complete their project in the event that the contractor is unable to finish the work for whatever reason.
 
I always worry about hiring people to do any work on my home or any property of mine. There's always that risk that something could go wrong. I always make sure to verify who it is I'm hiring, so I don't hire someone who isn't certified in the work they do.

As for who is liable, I would think the homeowner, as they are paying this person to take on the work and if they make mistakes, it lies with the homeowner. Of course, if a contractor does a horrible job, damages stuff, and all that, you could probably sue them for damages, but you would have to take that on yourself and the state or city could still penalize you if the work done isn't properly permitted.

It sucks that it's something the homeowner has to sort out, but you could still take the contractor to court.
@Jake, this reminds me of our previous discussion about that Atlanta news channel that was warning Georgia homeowners not to rush to hire contractors to make storm damage repairs. Some homeowners were hiring unlicensed contractors and then losing lots of money when those contractors later walked off the job. Homeowners don't always check to make sure the contractor they're hiring is properly licensed and bonded, which can be a major problem from a liability standpoint.

The best thing contractors can do to avoid potential liability issues and legal strife is to make sure they're fully licensed and bonded. For homeowners, the bonding in particular ensures the necessary funds are available to complete their project in the event that the contractor is unable to finish the work for whatever reason.
This! I think it lies with the homeowner to make it right, even if the issues were due to a contractors negligence or failure to properly permit the work. The fault lies with the homeowner because simply put, it's their property, and they're also responsible for vetting the contractor, and making sure they are right for the job.

I always check review sites on contractors. Also, I'd recommend everyone ask for their qualifications before hiring them, along with asking if they are up to date on licenses.

Can never be too safe after all.
 
@Jake, this reminds me of our previous discussion about that Atlanta news channel that was warning Georgia homeowners not to rush to hire contractors to make storm damage repairs. Some homeowners were hiring unlicensed contractors and then losing lots of money when those contractors later walked off the job. Homeowners don't always check to make sure the contractor they're hiring is properly licensed and bonded, which can be a major problem from a liability standpoint.

The best thing contractors can do to avoid potential liability issues and legal strife is to make sure they're fully licensed and bonded. For homeowners, the bonding in particular ensures the necessary funds are available to complete their project in the event that the contractor is unable to finish the work for whatever reason.
That's a good point, I forgot about that post, but it makes sense. You are responsible for the people you hire, so if you happen to hire someone who does bad work, it could come back to haunt you. Finding the right contractor is ideal in making sure the homeowner is also safe from mistakes down the line.

It sucks that it is the homeowners responsibility to make right in this case, but, even if you fall victim to this sort of thing, you have recourse, like suing the contractor who did the bad work. Though not ideal, it's a step homeowners can take if they feel they were wronged by bad contractor work.
 
Liability for building code violations and safety issues typically falls on the builder, contractor, or developer responsible for the construction. Homeowners may also bear some responsibility, especially if they were aware of the violations but failed to address them. That's why it is very important to select trustworthy professionals and ensure compliance with regulations.
 
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