Ask the County Law Librarian – Construction Disputes
Q: My husband and I hired a licensed contractor to renovate a bathroom in our home about three months ago. About six weeks ago, he just stopped showing up altogether, and is not returning any of my calls. There is a lot of unfinished work, and a lot of the work done so far was done very badly. What can I do?
A: Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB) is often a good place to start. They offer investigation, mediation, and arbitration services for construction disputes. The board can also take disciplinary action against the contractor, such as suspending his license, imposing fines, or ordering your contractor to correct his work (or pay to have someone else correct his work). More information about the CSLB’s complaint process is available at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/consumers/filingacomplaint/.
The CSLB’s focus is on resolving the dispute, rather than obtaining restitution for the complainant. If your primary focus is restitution, you may want to consider court action against the contractor. If your dispute could be resolved for $10,000 or less, you could pursue your case in small claims court, where you will find streamlined procedures and a quicker resolution to your case. For more information about taking your case to small claims court, see http://courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm. For claims over $10,000, you would need to pursue your case in the general civil court. More information about lawsuits in civil court is available at http://courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-problemswithmoney.htm.
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