Legal Question in Construction Law in North Carolina

Construction Contract Dispute

I hired a ''weekend builder'' to build an addition onto my house. He is unlicensed and therefore had me take the building permit out in my name as my own general contractor (which is legal in my state). After signing the contract, we learned that the location of the proposed addition would be over a septic tank, which was unforeseen. He has barely started the job (trench for the fittings). He wants me to pay to move the septic tank and do the original job as agreed upon. I want to cancel the job, return the bought materials, pay him for his time spent so far, give him a reasonable profit, and be done with it. My questions are: (1) Can I do this unilaterally (he does not want to do this) and be on firm legal ground, since the contract does not address cancellation, unforeseen obstacles, or anything like that? (2) If this went to court, would a judge likely rule that the unforeseen obstacle (septic tank) renders the contract null and void since it was not known or contemplated at the time the parties entered into the contract?

Asked on 8/29/06, 9:28 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Kirby Law Offices of John M. Kirby
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Re: Construction Contract Dispute

This is a rather gray area of law. I.e. when unforeseen circumstances arise that render the contract you originally entered unfavorable or inefficient (or even impossible). In general, due to the unforeseen septic system, and the clear problem that presents to your original plan (which included not simply the addition itself, but the location of the addition) it sounds as if you have a good basis to cancel the contract and pay him for his actual expenses and a profit. This was not a risk that you contemplated when you entered the contract (and he probably did not either). You of course may want to consult a lawyer and provide him or her with more details.

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8/29/06, 10:33 am

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