D.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I used the contractor who does work for my building (who said he was licensed) to install a floor in my kitchen. Unfortunately, he caused extensive damage to my kitchen. He is refusing to compensate me and the building refuses to get involved. Turns out I think he is unlicensed as he is not listed with the Department of Consumer Affairs (whom I reported him to). I have asked the building for a copy of his insurance information now that I need it and they have not responded even though they originally said I had to provide them with the contractor’s insurance info before I had the work done. But because I used the contractor who regularly does work for the building I assumed his insurance info was on file. My question is this: is the building responsible for the damages if he turns out to be unlicensed since they are using an unlicensed contractor whose status they did not reveal to me and additionally let him do the job on my apartment without the proper insurance?
I submitted a claim to my homeowners insurance and my claim was denied. This does not seem fair, my apartment is only 6 years old and was in excellent condition before the contractor damaged it. Do I have any options to obtaining compensation from the building, the contractor or the Department of Consumer Affairs?
Mister Condo replies:
D.S., this is a most unfortunate situation and right off the bat I am advising you to seek legal representation in this matter as it is very likely going to end up in one or more lawsuits. At the heart of the matter is the word “ASSUME” and like the old joke says, we all know what happens when we assume. At face value, I would say you made a big mistake when you hired this contractor and ASSUMED he was licensed and insured. Providing a copy of a license and proof of insurance is the first thing any reputable contractor does before they bid a job or begin work. Also, according to you, your association REQUIRES this information be put on file with the association before any work begins. This is standard operating procedure for all associations that I am familiar with (although all do not follow as closely as they should). You ASSUMED this information was on file with your association because this contractor already works for the association. While I can see where you would come to that conclusion, I do not think you will be able to get around the requirement to provide that information to the association (which you failed to do) for the work that was done by this contractor.
All that being said, you have now ventured into an area where an attorney may be far more helpful to you than I can be. I am not an attorney and only offer friendly advice in this column. You may find that an attorney will give you different advice and be able to assist you in recovering from your losses. In my opinion, your ASSUMPTIONS have cost you dearly and neither the association (they didn’t order or authorize this work) nor the Department of Consumer Affairs (they don’t compensate for faulty work; they do track and take action on licensing issues) are likely to compensate you. Your best bet may be going after the contractor but before you do, be sure to weight the expense of a lawsuit versus simply hiring another contractor (who is licensed and insured; NO ASSUMPTIONS!) to come in and make the necessary repairs to get your unit looking the way it should. Good luck!