Legal Question in Construction Law in California

Had a contractor bid on work project for my backyard. Cost was $20k with work done in 6 weeks. It is now over a year and he hasn't returned to work on my backyard in over 4 months. We signed a contract and have already paid him. The patio he did was supposed to be 950 sq ft and was only 780 sq ft. What can I do to get my money back. I have copy of the contract signed and dated

Asked on 8/17/17, 11:07 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Well, first of all, you probably can't get all your money back; but chances are good that you can get a judgment for the shortfall in your contractor's performance, i.e., the cost to have someone else finish up, or the value of the missing square footage. Therefore, my recommendation would be to consider a suit in small claims. A possible problem would be whether the contractor is bonded and/or solvent; sometimes failure to complete a job is a sign that the contractor is going belly up. At least in small claims it is easy, quick and cheap to find out if you can (a) win, and (b) collect. I suggest getting one of the several paperback books on how to prepare, present and win your case in California small claims, e.g. the book published by Nolo Press, but there are others. Be sure it is California oriented.

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Answered on 8/17/17, 11:20 am
Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

Your contractor has committed several violations of the Contractors State License law and related regulations. I'm guessing he may not be licensed either. If he does not have a valid license or at ANY time during the course of the work did not have a license, you are entitled to sue for ALL your money back. If he IS licensed, you can make a claim against his contractor's license bond for the difference between the value of the work he did and what it takes to complete the contract. If the bond isn't enough, you can sue in small claims for the difference if it is under $10K, or Superior Court for over $10k. The best place to start, is filing a complaint with the Contractors State License Board. Info at:

You can also track down his bonding company and file a claim against his bond on the website.

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Answered on 8/18/17, 9:30 pm

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