Construction is a complicated process. When a construction project does not go smoothly, the litigation arising out of it can be just as complicated. If not handled properly, these disputes can become overly expensive and lengthy endeavors. Construction litigation arises in a number of ways, and claims may be brought against owners, general contractors, or subcontractors. Thankfully, the experienced construction litigation attorneys at Katz, Pryor, & DiCuccio are here to help with all of your construction litigation needs. Whether you are defending or bringing a claim regarding construction, we recommend contacting our experienced attorneys today for a comprehensive legal analysis of your claims or defenses.
The Home Construction Services Providers Act
One common source of construction litigation in Ohio occurs when a homeowner brings a claim under the Home Construction Service Suppliers Act (HCSSA). Codified in R.C. §4722, this section sets out regulations regarding home constructions. Often, these regulations place a strict burden on construction service providers. R.C. 4722.03 provides that home construction professionals shall not:
- Fail to enter into a compliant contract prior to building
- Fail to provide an estimate of any excess costs that may be incurred after the contract was formed
- Charge an excess cost without the owner’s approval
- Fail to disclose acceptance of goods related to an excess cost
- Fail to disclose that the owner’s refusal to approve an excess cost may result in the work being impossible, or an incurrence even more costs
- Fail to return any replaced parts which belong to the owner
- Fail to provide a refund with a reasonable time for goods which were not delivered
- Fail to provide an itemized receipt to the owner of certain goods
- Fail to perform work in a workmanlike manner
- Represent that work or repairs have been completed when they have not
- Represent that certain work is required to comply with the building code when that is not the case
This list is not exhaustive but gives a good basic understanding of what the HCSSA requires of construction professionals. When any a builder commits any of the prohibited acts, the remedy is set out in R.C. §4722.08. This section provides that in some circumstances, the buyer may rescind the transaction, and recover monetary damages. In other instances, the owner may be able to recover for their attorney’s fees, if it can be proved that the other party either acted in bad faith, or the builder knowingly violated the HCSSA.
An Example: “Workmanlike Manner”
However, while this section lays out these deceptive acts, the litigation regarding proving and defending whether a prohibited act occurred is more complicated than it may seem. For example, what does it mean that the builder did not complete the work in a “workmanlike manner”? Courts have defined “workmanlike manner” as “a standard that requires a construction professional to act reasonably and to exercise that degree of care which a member of the construction trade in good standing in that community would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.” Seff v. Davis, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 03AP-159, 2003-Ohio-7029, ¶ 19. While this definition clarifies the legal standard that will be applied, it still does not remove the potential for litigation and argument over whether this standard was met. Questions will arise in analyzing this and will be hotly contested. One party will frame the circumstances in one way, and the opposing party will frame them in another. There will be questions of what a member of the construction trade in good standing would have done in those circumstances. Inquiries will involve what was reasonable in those circumstances and whether the professional’s conduct conformed to that standard of reasonableness. The inquiry of whether work was performed in a “workmanlike manner” will depend largely on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. The residential and commercial real estate attorneys at Katz, Pryor, & DiCuccio, LLP we are able to represent clients on both sides of these transactions. Thus, regardless of if you are an owner or builder, we are here for you.
Are you bringing or defending claims involving construction litigation? Our experienced attorneys are here to help walk you through this complicated process and ensure that your interests are well represented. Contact the residential and commercial real estate attorneys at Katz, Pryor, & DiCuccio, LLP for a free consultation today!