When you hire a contractor to do work on your home, you probably have a vision. Whether you build your dream home from the ground up, expand an existing house or remodel an older home, the goal is a space where you love to live and a property that you could resell for a profit.
You may have provided example pictures or even specific brand information about the floors or countertops that you wanted in your home. After the completion of the project, everything looked okay. Then, after you started using the space, you realize that the contractors substituted your requested materials with something entirely different.
Can you take action against a contractor who made a major change to a project without your knowledge?
Substitutions usually require a written agreement
When you agree to hire a contractor for a project, you do so based on the caliber of work they provide and the estimate that they offer. Knowing how long it will take and what they will charge helps you pick the right contractor for your project.
Of course, situations do change. Supply chain issues may mean that a particular material is not available or has tripled in cost. Communication errors between a contractor and subcontractor may mean that the person buying the materials put a low price ahead of a specific brand or the overall quality of the materials.
Typically, a contractor who intends to substitute vinyl tile for hardwood floor needs to have you sign a substitution request or an addendum to your existing contract. Making the substitution without disclosing it to you could be a breach of contract that is actionable.
What is a material substitution worth?
To file a construction defect claim against a contractor, you need to put a financial value on the issue. You might ask for the difference in price between the materials as well as the cost to dispose of the current materials and install replacements. If you don’t intend to do that work, you could ask for the difference in what your home is worth because of those lower-quality materials.
Reviewing your contract is a good place to start if you intend to bring a breach of contract or construction defect claim over the use of different materials than what you expected.