Legal Question in Construction Law in California

My company had performed a light kitchen and bath remodel for a couple which was completed in February 2017. The property was a rental home. Our scope included a kitchen and (2) vanity painting. The customer originally requested an oil-based product, and we notified the customer that our painting subcontractor suggested use of a non-oil based product instead. Two days had passed without response from the homeowner and we completed the project with the non-oil based product instead as the oil based product was not available.

Months later in April the customer expressed discontent with the non- oil based paint. We asked the customer if they would rather us re-paint or if they’d like to just keep the $920 final payment they had withheld.

There was no reply until May of 2019. The customer states that the tenants have vacated and they are re-renting. They say they want us to come back to repaint the bathroom vanities under warranty.

I am in need of a construction lawyer we may contact periodically. Our company has much tighter contracts and agreements made from the experiences we have encountered from projects like this.

We have let the customer know that we cannot warranty the paint work that is 2.5yrs old. Also, tenants are known to damage the properties they rent.

Because of this and other credits those homeowners have received from us, I am not comfortable returning to do new work as I would not want to reopen any liability on their property.

There is a 1-yr expressed warranty and 4-yr general warranty period the CSLB requires of contractors. Would painting fall under the 1-yr warranty or 4-yr?

Asked on 7/12/19, 12:42 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

Warranties only apply to defects in the work. It sounds like the owner accepted or waived any objection to a modification of the contract. So no defect. Furthermore, if the contract did not expressly state that oil based paint would be used, then you were free to make the substitution. So it seems to me which warranty it might come under is irrelevant. If the contract did expressly state oil based, then it would come under the express warranty and be waived after a year.

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Answered on 7/15/19, 8:52 am

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