My aunt and uncle are restoring an old house of my grandmother's. Our family lives in North Carolina, and we would like to know what will likely happen under the laws of our state. They used a contractor who was doing work for a neighbor whom she recommended. He turned out to be an unlicensed contractor and a criminal! Though they didn't know any of this at the time of course. My aunt drew up contract that included several home improvement projects such as installing a new bathroom and plumbing fixtures, painting a few rooms, installing a new floor for the kitchen, repairs to the front porch for a total amount of 2,900 dollars. In the contract he never itemized the cost of individual projects, he simply wrote a total sum of 2,900 for the various home repairs combined. He began work on the bathroom and was given an 800 dollar down payment for the various home repairs, in addition to another 300 dollars for labor later, the remainder of the payments my aunt decided to withhold until the completion of the project. My aunt and uncle also payed for all of the costs of materials in advanced. The contractor was unprofessional from the start however, he often did not show up for work, and acted inappropriately over the phone when asked to arrive and perform the job, a two week project stretched into 2 months, he appeared drunk and high, and he began installing parts of the bathroom incorrectly, which my aunt and uncle most now pay someone else to redo. His behavior began to escalate, he became aggressive, swearing and yelling, and later in a fit of rage he tossed a box of glass mosaic tile across the room and broke the pieces, materials which my family will also have to now replace. He eventually threatened my aunt with a sledgehammer. Needless to say he no longer works for them. He did not complete the bathroom to their satisfaction, the trim was not laid, the grout is messy and cracks are now suddenly appearing in parts of the tile and places in the walls-- we suspect he didn't waterproof some of the new bathroom. On top of that he did not complete any of the other projects that were in the contract, he only worked on the bathroom. My family all thought that we'd seen the end of this crazy man, but today my aunt received a summons to court, the unlicensed contractor is suing her for additional payments, demanding the total cost of 2,900 for repairs to the whole house. I am trying to understand if he has any legal grounds. They have already payed him 1100 dollars for incomplete work, is he entitled to anymore?
1 Answer from Attorneys
A contractor does not necessairly need to be licensed for jobs under a certain amount - although plumbers and electricians do need to be licensed. Anyway to answer your question - there are legal grounds to defend against the action - and your aunt and uncle should file a counterclaim. I am guessing this is a small claims court action - they will want to present proof of all this. For example, if they paid someone else to fix it, bring copiesof those invoices, etc. Take pictures, etc. Also they should have filed a criminal complaint if he threatened them with a sledgehammer.