Houzz Logo Print

closet contractor caused water damage, blames original builder

2 months ago

I hired a contractor to install shelves for our master bedroom closets last month. While they were removing the baseboard, the nail attached to the baseboard punctured the fire sprinkler pipe behind the dry wall and caused water damage. I was present when the pipe burst. Total repairs were ~ $4000 including drying out water, fire sprinkler pipe repair, and drywall patch/paint.

The contractors blamed the initial homebuilder for putting that nail there. However, I've asked both the pipe repair and water restoration guys whether the pipe was punctured and leaked prior to the removal of the baseboards and both said not likely. There should have been signs of water damage for a house built in 2013 had the pipe been punctured. The house was purchased last summer and the inspector found no signs of water damage during the inspection at that time. I'm 99% sure the previous homeowner did not modify the closets.

Personally, I think what most likely happened was the nail was probably nailed very close to the pipe during the construction of the house and the closet contractors "wiggled" the baseboard while trying to remove it, causing the nail to puncture the pipe.

Things I've tried:

  • negotiated with contractor to see if they would be willing to cover 50% of the repair - they declined
  • filed a home warranty claim with the original builder - they denied since third-party contractor was hired to modify closets
  • contacted home insurance - did not proceed since my deductible was ~$4000 and the claim might raise my rates

I proceeded to let them finish the closets today and a friend suggested to write them check for the project balance minus the total cost of the repairs and let them sue in small claims court.

Who's really at fault here? Should I counter sue the original builder?

Comments (11)