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Remodel damaged our property

May 2011

Our neighbor's remodel significantly damaged our property and we're looking for a good construction law attorney. The neighbors understand that they are liable, but we need assistance negotiating the terms/scope of the repair work. Many thanks. anon


Jeff Leon & Debbie Leon, attorneys in Oakland, specialize in construction defect and related law. Phone 208-6600. Excellent people and lawyers, smart, effective. They'll be able to recommend someone(s) to assess cost of damages, I'm sure. Best of luck. Pat
We like Paul Berning his e-mail is paulberning@paulberninglaw.com. He used to work for one of the big firms, but he recently opened up his own office to be able to help people with just this sort of thing. Good luck. Tyler
make sure the attorney also knows how to swing a hammer... (i say tongue in cheek). i am scratching my head on this one... a neighbor damages your property, neighbor understands their liability... ANOTHER TACTIC: get an estimate and get it fixed on neighbor's nickel. good luck, i hope it works out. somebody else's neighbor

Lawyer for Property Damage Cause by Contractor

Jan 2011

We have a contractor that caused significant damage ($10,000+) to our deck in the process of trying to refinish it. We've asked him to report it to his insurance, and they denied his claim. We've also reported it to our insurance, and were similarly denied. I've filed a complaint with the state contracting board (he's licensed) and have well documented the damage. We're now looking at court. Does anyone have a recommendation for a lawyer that could handle this type of issue? I have no idea where to look (Google has been unhelpful.) damaged


Thomas Eastridge specializes in real estate law in Oakland. I have used him on three occasions and each time I have found him to be up front, professional , and he has produced positive results for every case (He was able to negotiate a settlement without us having to go to court). He returns calls, has a sense of humor, and has a very down to earth manner. His number is 510-530-1700. Good luck. Isen
so, there ya go... you hire a licensed contractor that has insurance and insurance company(ies) fail to cover the claim... but, the heck with insurance companies... was it a bad product used on deck? or faulty workmanship? the former may give you an opportunity for another culpable party. if the latter is the case... it sounds like another case of the licensing board not doing their job to sort out the unskilled. maybe it's time for reform of the CA licensing board and then ... there is this: maybe it was an honest mistake... which your insurance company should cover -insurance skeptic
We had a legal dispute with a contractor and were well represented by Richard Freeman at Wood, Smith, Henning and Berman in Concord. Richard has many years of experience in construction defect litigation, both as a sole proprietor on smaller cases and now as a partner at a big firm working on huge cases. I don't know if he'd take a case as small as yours, but you could certainly try. He was a pleasure to work with (but very expensive).

That said, I have to give you my warning... does your contract with the contractor specifically allow you to collect attorneys' fees? If not, you will not be allowed to do so, and litigation is HUGELY expensive. While $10K in damages is significant to you, the cost of hiring a lawyer to recoup that would very, VERY quickly put you in the hole, even if you reached a quick settlement and never went to court. Here are a few other things you might consider first...

--The Contractors State License Board has an arbitration program that is free. There is some wait time, but I'll repeat: it's FREE. --You say your contractor filed a claim with his insurance.

Are you sure? My experience with this is that it's the homeowner who files a claim with the contractor's bonding company when property is damaged. YOU should be the one to file the claim. You should be able to get info on your contractor's bonding company from the CSLB website, and you can file a claim without the contractor being involved at all, if you want to.

--If none of the above are successful, please consider small claims court. There is a $7500 limit, but that will still put more money in your pocket than hiring a lawyer.

--When you're done, take your revenge on yelp, bpn and all the other review sites. We'd love to know whom to avoid. So sorry about this - I know firsthand what a nightmare it is. Best of luck to you. been there


I am also in the process of sueing my contractor. because your case is below $25,000 I believe you can represent yourself in some kind of small claims. If you get an attorney it is a good idea, but $10,000 is not worth it cause a good litagation atty will be around $5000- $10,000. I'm not sure what county your in, but if it is Alameda county, go to the court house on Fallon st and go to the clecks office where ypou can fill out the paper work and file suit. By any chance is your contractor Romanian? I hop0e that this helps.
Hello, I went through the State Licensing Board for a roof leak caused by a roofing contractor. The case worker handling my case was wonderful and guided me through every step and taught me a lot about how to make contracts with contractors.

After sending the contractor 3 letters trying to talk to him about the roof leak, I filed a claim with his bonding company. Luckily I found a great roofer who fixed the problem for only $450. The bonding company paid me promptly. Judy


Roofer mistake cost us $1,400

October 2001

Could anyone recommend a contract attorney for a case regarding a roofer? He mistakenly advised us to replace the entire roof under the premise that there was no paper underneath. The mistake makes a difference of $1,400 for repair of the skylight area vs. $6,700 for the entire roof. We're willing to pay $5,000 but he does not want to compromise and threatens to place a lein against our house. I've signed a contract to pay for the roof without any mention of the paper not being underneath the roof. I have witnesses who saw the paper during demolition. Thank you in advance. Susan


I've recently asked for recommendations to a good contract attorney regarding a contractor problem and I saw a few months? ago a request for a contract attorney as well but did not save the replies that were received. I'd like to share the names of two attorneys I found most informed, articulate, level-headed, and kind in providing "free advice" over the phone. One is a Berkeley alumni, Michael Sullivan who is listed either under Contract or Contractor Attorney column in the Oakland yellow pages. The other is Steven Herman of S.F. listed under contractor attorney column. These two were the most helpful and I would not hesitate to secure them to help me on any issues that require legal assistance in contract and contractor arena. Susan
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