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Mechanic's Lien May Be Enforced Despite Technical Violations of Home Improvement Law
Description Connecticut Supreme Court held that a contractor's mechanic's lien against a home owner for renovation work, could be enforced despite paperwork defects that violated the letter of the Home Improvement Act. The defects were too trivial to affect the reality of the transaction.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Mechanics Lien, Home Improvement Statute
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A contractor agreed to work on a home owned by Dowling. The budget, after various changes during construction, was $875,579. When the work was nearly completed, the parties signed a one page agreement that the final price would be $835,579 and that there would be no changes. Upon completion, Dowling offered $67,474 as final payment. Contractor refused, contending that $141,275 was owed because Dowling ordered further changes after the one page agreement was signed, thereby driving costs up. Contractor sued, seeking to foreclose on the mechanic's lien filed on the property. Dowling contended that the details of the contract failed to comply with the Connecticut Home Improvement Act (HIA). Trial court and appeals court held for Dowling. Contractor appealed.
Decision Reversed. Simply because "a statute is to be strictly construed in the sense that its provisions are mandatory, compliance with the statute's specific requirements must also be construed to require letter-perfect-rather than practical-compliance." Here, the deviations from the specifications of the HIA "were of a minor and highly technical nature, and did not result in a lack of notice to the defendants that they had a right to cancel the contract within three days of the contract's signing." The fact that Ms. Dowling only received one copy of the right to cancel notice, instead of the two copies required by law, is too trivial to matter. The contract, and, therefore the mechanic's lien, may be enforced.
Citation Wright Brothers Builders, Inc. v. Dowling, 720 A.2d 235 (Sup. Ct., Conn.)

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