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Home Improvement and Resolving Contract Disputes: An Interview with Oni Holley of Molden & Holley, LLC

By Oni Holley

Tell us a little bit about your firm and the areas of law that you practice.

Molden & Holley, LLC is a multi-service law firm located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The firm represents a cross-section of established and emerging businesses as well as individuals in complex commercial litigation, civil rights cases, employment discrimination lawsuits, real estate and other transactional matters. Molden & Holley was founded in 2005.

What is one of the most common contractor disputes you've seen in the Georgia area?

We see a lot disputes between homeowners and contractors for faulty or defective construction. If the contractor files suit, it is usually to collect payment for construction or renovation work performed for a customer that the contractor says he or she did not get paid for. Disputes for failure to pay for work done are common among contractors and subcontractors too. The homeowner should be concerned if the subcontractors are not paid because a subcontractor may try to file suit against the homeowner or place a materialmen's lien on the homeowner's property.

How can homeowners help prevent this from happening to them when they are remodeling/building or hiring a contractor?

First, the homeowner should choose a reputable, licensed contractor. Unlicensed or inexperienced contractors may be cheaper, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Second, the homeowner should make sure that he or she and the contractor have the same understanding as to the project scope and associated cost. The terms agreed upon by the parties should be memorialized in a clear written contract.

When can a contractor add additional charges to a signed contract?

Generally speaking, additional charges cannot and should not be added to an executed contract without the homeowner's consent. If the homeowner agrees, the contract can be amended to add additional charges or expenses.

What should people do before making their final payment?

Review the terms of the written agreement to make sure that the contractor has covered all the items agreed upon to complete the project and inspect the contractor's work. The homeowner might also consider getting confirmation that all labor and materials have been paid for in full. If there are any issues with the work, it is best for the contractor and the homeowner to resolve them before final payment is made.

What advice would you give homeowners who have never worked with a professional contractor before?

Again, finding a reputable and experienced contractor with a good reputation is the best place to start. Dealing with a reliable and experienced contractor will eliminate a lot of the pitfalls homeowners sometimes encounter when renovating or constructing a home. Trade organizations and other homeowners can be good referral sources. Also, be realistic about your expectations. Building a new home or undertaking an extensive renovation project can be time-consuming, stressful and costly, but the end result could be your dream home. Be prepared for the lows and the highs.

How can people contact you and your firm?

We can be contacted by phone at (404) 324-4500 or by email at oholley@moldenholley.com. To learn more about the firm, please visit our website www.moldenholley.com.

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About The Author

Oni Holley is a Partner and co-founder of Molden & Holley, LLC. Her areas of practice...

Phone: 404-324-4500

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