Builder with ad­e­quate ex­pe­ri­ence could have headed off prob­lems

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Homespot - Broward East - - LIVING G SPACES - By Ilyce Glink and Sa­muel J. Tamkin,

Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

Q: After­meet­ing­with our builder and his agent nu­mer­ous times, we signed a con­tract for a home that was to in­clude a three-car garage and a cov­ered porch.

About a month ago, the builder came back and said he could not de­liver on the three-car garage or the porch due to the lot size. We were quite up­set but agreed to move for­ward with a two-car garage and a deck. To­day, he again came back to say that he couldn’t build the deck at all.

The three-car garage and the deck were very im­por­tant re­quire­ments for us. Dur­ing the past four months, we turned down a few good op­por­tu­ni­ties with other builders, and the prices have gone up. We al­ready paid $15,000 to the builder. He hasn’t started the con­struc­tion due to some de­lays in get­ting the per­mits.

If we want to can­cel the con­tract now, can we get any com­pen­sa­tion for the lost time and the price in­crease? Should we go through the le­gal path? What is our best op­tion? A:

We don’t know if you own the lot al­ready and sim­ply hired this builder, but that seems likely. At least we’ll as­sume it to be the case for the first por­tion of our an­swer.

We’re puz­zled as to who is de­sign­ing the home. While some builders have ar­chi­tects on staff, most don’t. It’s usu­ally up to clients to hire an ar­chi­tect to de­sign a home. If you own the lot and don’t have an ar­chi­tect, you need to find another builder, one with ex­ten­sive de­sign­ing and build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in your city.

Builders fre­quently work with sev­eral dif­fer­ent ar­chi­tects; the ar­chi­tect for your home should have de­tailed knowl­edge of the build­ing re­quire­ments in your area. The core prob­lem in your sit­u­a­tion is your builder seems to know lit­tle more about th­ese is­sues than you do.

Whether you own the lot or the builder does, the builder should have a great deal more knowl­edge about build­ing homes in your area. The lot size is al­ways a con­sid­er­a­tion when fig­ur­ing out what you can build on a lot. Many mu­nic­i­pal codes con­tain re­stric­tions on how close a struc­ture can be to the side of the lot, how far back a home must sit on the lot, and lim­its on a home’s height, foot­print, max­i­mum square footage, and the size of drive­ways and other im­per­me­able sur­faces, along with a host of other is­sues.

While it’s not un­usual that a mu­nic­i­pal­ity will tell you that your plans for a home might not con­form to the let­ter of the law, we find it strange that your builder would be so clue­less as to not know that the lot couldn’t support your re­quest for a three-car garage and porch.

If the builder thought that key fea­tures of your home de­sign wouldn’t pass muster with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, he should have warned you of that—even if he was will­ing to give it a shot and see if the plans would be ap­proved.

Given that you signed a con­tract, and prob­a­bly agreed to mod­ify the con­tract to delete the three-car garage and porch re­quire­ment, we don’t know where that leaves you. Look at your con­tract to see what rights you have. Con­sult a real es­tate at­tor­ney in your area to un­der­stand the con­tract and your rights. If you own the lot, we doubt any other builder would have bet­ter luck get­ting the three-car garage and porch built. And if you had been con­sid­er­ing other lots that could ac­com­mo­date a three-car garage and porch, they might have been larger, more ex­pen­sive lots.

Un­less your con­tract specif­i­cally al­lows you to sue the builder and re­cover your “loss” from ris­ing prices and lost op­por­tu­ni­ties, you gen­er­ally will be out that. How­ever, if this builder is not right for you and you can get your $15,000 back, you can move on to work with a builder that has more ex­pe­ri­ence in your area.

lyce Glink is the cre­ator of an 18-part we­bi­nar and ebook se­ries called “The In­ten­tional In­vestor: How to be wildly suc­cess­ful in real es­tate,” as well as the au­thor of many books on real es­tate.

(c) 2014 Ilyce R. Glink and Sa­muel J. Tamkin. dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency, LLC.

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