Legal Question in Construction Law in California

We hired a contractor to redo our kitchen and bathrooms. After closer inspection, we found problems that he wouldn't fix after project and payment was done. After writing a buyer beware review on Yelp, I was contacted by another contractor with the same last name and very close company name. This man told me that my "contractor" has been using his contractors license to get jobs. I investigated further and found out that the "contractor" we hired was in fact not licensed and was using this other man's license number on our contract. I read that in CA, we can sue for the full amount of the contract (over 20K). Originally I didn't want to go that route, and asked for him to return 2K so I could do the work myself to fix the problems which he agreed in exchange for me sending a text stating I wouldn't sue. The project in fact entails so much more than we can handle and I would like to now go after more so we can hire someone else to fix the problems he created. Is that text legally binding?

Asked on 7/09/19, 10:39 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

Unfortunately it probably is. If you and the unlicensed contractor agreed that you would not sue in exchange for $2,000 and he paid back the $2,000, you may be stuck. That may form a binding settlement. On the other hand, the rules against unlicensed contracting are strong enough you MIGHT get a court to disregard the settlement. In addition, unless you agreed to take no legal action at all of any kind, it sounds like you are still free to file a complaint with the Contractors State License Board and with your local District Attorney, since it is also a crime, and you MIGHT obtain restitution payments via that route.

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Answered on 7/09/19, 10:46 am

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