Preventing Legal Problems for Home Owners


The cornerstone of my practice is quality relationships with my clients. My practice includes not only solving my clients' legal problems but educating my clients as to the importance of taking steps to avoid legal problems before they begin.

Common Mistakes Home Owners Make

Home owners know their homes. They know what they want to change or build. Construction companies know construction. They know how to do what they are told. The problems that many home owners encounter when building or renovating a house are a result of a lack of understanding of construction work and the construction business.

Uninformed home owners can be easy victim to contractors who do a poor job or don't finish the job at all. Legal recourse to get money back or to get work completed is not always available. When it is available, it can be costly and time consuming but home owners generally cannot afford to spend more time and money on legal help when a problem arises. Therefore, it is critical for home owners to understand their rights, make sure these are in writing with the contractor, before signing a contract for construction and not be a victim in the first place.

In my years of experience, these are some of the most common mistakes I have seen home owners make:

  • Common Mistake:
  • Approaching a contractor and signing a contract with no clear, written scope of work.
  • Common Result:
  • The home owners ask the contractor to do work that the contractor argues is a change or addition to his contract. The contractor refuses to do the work and leaves the job unfinished.
  • Easy Solution:
  • With the help of a construction lawyer, draft a clear, detailed scope of work that is understood and agreed upon by both the home owner and contractor. A lawyer can make sure that the scope of work truly includes all of the work the home owner wants to have done.
  • Common Mistake:
  • Expecting to define the construction details as the work proceeds.
  • Common Result:
  • Home owners ask the contractor to do work that would require work already completed to be undone, destroyed and redone. This costs the contractor, and the home owner, a great deal of extra time and money.
  • Easy Solution:
  • Get it right the first time. An experienced construction lawyer can help a home owner identify what details must be decided in advance and included in the scope of work in advance so that no work has to be undone later.
  • Common Mistake:
  • Signing the contractor's contract without having it reviewed by a lawyer who understands construction.
  • Common Result:
  • The contract contains clauses that are not just favorable to the contractor but are unfair to the home owner.
  • Easy Solution:
  • Have an experienced construction lawyer review the contract and negotiate clauses that will protect the home owners' rights. A proper contract will prevent the above common problems as well as many others and will make it much cheaper and easier to resolve problems that do arise.
Many people hesitate to retain a lawyer to these prevent problems from arising. When a contract is well-negotiated and runs smoothly, the parties don't have concrete "proof" that their good experience was a result of a well-drafted and well-managed contract. Therefore, many people don't bother to have lawyers draft or review contracts for them. Some people get lucky and the parties behave in a proper, professional manner and nothing bad happens. Other people are not so lucky. For the unlucky ones, the consequences could be severe such as the home not being what they expected or the cost of fixing or changing the work being far beyond what the home owners planned to spend or could afford. Failure to retain a lawyer before entering into a construction contract exposes home owners to great risks that could be so easily avoided with minimal additional time and money.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.