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Can I sue a construction company?

TexasConstruction ContractPayment Disputes

Building a house and the construction company is giving me the run around. They’ve lied multiple times about why the house isn’t being built, and I have pictures that prove they lied. They’ve pushed my closing date 3 times. Can I sue them to get the house finished on time?

1 reply

Jun 19, 2021

The legal analysis would start with a review of your contract, and then extend to any warranties the builder issued or arranged to post, and to any communications which have occurred. The legal analysis would also examine whether you or the builder own the lot on which the house is being built.

You should write the builder a letter by certified mail to request that the builder correct/complete his work. In that letter, you should advise generally what work needs to be corrected/completed. You should also indicate that if the builder does not correct/complete his work, you will have to retain another contractor, and will hold the builder responsible for the costs. Finally, indicate in your letter that if the builder does not advise that he will correct/complete his work within one week, you will presume that he has no intention of doing so, and you will hold him responsible for the costs of correcting/completing his work.

When the builder does not proceed, you should solicit a bid from another contractor to correct/complete the builder's work. Make sure that the second contractor itemizes his invoices and lists the costs to correct/complete the builder's work. You cannot charge the builder with the cost of work that was not within the builder's scope of work, unless the work was necessary to resolve a deficiency in the builder's work.  

Once you have tallied the costs associated with correcting/completing the builder's work, you can consider suing him to recover those costs. The jurisdictional maximum for small claims court in Texas is now $20,000. So, if your claim exceeds that amount, you will have to sue in County or District Court. In small claims court, you can represent yourself. In County or District Court, you will have to retain an attorney. However, under Texas law, you would be entitled to recover attorney's fees if you prevailed. But, your contract may require arbitration. However, the right to arbitration is waivable.

Make sure that you take a lot of photos of the builder's work. Digital photos with the date of the photo imprinted on the photo are best. You should document the condition in which the builder left the work and what it took to correct/complete the work.

Please note that the contract could permit the builder to terminate the contract for convenience or due to a supposed construction dispute, and then refund your deposit money. So, you need to review the contract carefully to determine your rights and the builder's rights.

Retain a construction attorney to evaluate your legal situation and to provide advice.

Good luck.


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