County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Daniel Lee, pro se
Defendant: Michael P. Lynch, Esq.
matter was tried before the Court, jury-waived, on November 7
and 8, 2017. Each of the parties testified, as well as James
Beane, a contractor from South Windsor, Connecticut. Mr.
Beane had installed vinyl siding for thirty-eight years, and
was qualified as an expert to testify.
and Tom Beaudoin own a single family home on Benson Avenue in
Westerly, Rhode Island. They hired Mr. Lee to complete
several home improvement projects on the property. In January
2015, they contracted with Daniel Lee to replace the existing
vinyl siding on the home with Novik vinyl cedar shingles. The
project would also include some insulation, gutters, and
other work. The parties stipulated that Joint Exhibit 1
represents the existing contract between the
parties. Novik is a brand name of Cedar Shake vinyl
siding. Novik provides a lifetime limited warranty on its
projects "provided that they are installed in accordance
with the rules of art and instructions provided by
Novik." Ex. D at 1. The warranty specifically excludes
"damage arising from improper, defective or
non-adherence to the rules of art or to the prevailing and
building and construction codes or Novik instructions . .
." Ex. D at 3. Specific instructions on installation are
included on each package of Novik shingles.
was commenced and delayed because of the installation of
windows and other work on the house. Most of the work was
completed by June 26, 2015, but each of the parties wanted an
opportunity to have independent inspectors review the work.
On September 11, 2015, final payment was requested by Mr. Lee
to the Beaudoins. The parties had agreed that Mr. Beaudoin
would pay a lumber yard directly. In any event, Mr. Lee
claimed the balance due under the contract to be $7191. The
parties further stipulated that the final payment was not
Mr. Lee had negotiated the contract, all of the work was done
by a subcontractor for him and the subcontractor's son.
Mr. Lee went to the property and reviewed the work being done
almost every day, but the subcontractor spent the majority of
the time at the property.
acknowledged that it is a goal, in installing vinyl siding,
to make the installation sufficiently tight so water does not
penetrate it. Mr. Lee also acknowledged that he did not
install all of the soffits at the roofline, as the contract
indicated, but believed that some portions of it would be
replaced in a separate project. He claimed he provided a $400
credit for the soffits which were never replaced.
installing the siding, ladders were used. Mr. Beane
established that ladders are not to be used as they may
damage the finish of the siding, though no such damage was
demonstrated on the Beaudoin house. Mr. Beane established
that although some starter strips were used at the bottom or
base of the shingles, they were not Novik starter strips and
the shingles were not clicked into the bottom of the
shingles. Accordingly, the bottom shingles (the first layer
installed) wobble when they are pulled, causing the shingles
above them to wobble. This is inconsistent with the
installation instructions from Novik. To repair the bottom
shingles all of the interlocking shingles above them need to
Beane testified that it appears the shingling project was not
thought out. As houses are not perfectly square, the
deviations can be hidden by planning the entire layout of the
shingles in advance. As that was not done here, the defects
are more evident. Mr. Beane established that there is one
sheet of shingles falling off the house (Ex. U), even though
the work was completed just two years ago.
Beane noted that the shingle strips or sheets should be
applied uniformly, nailing the shingle in the center first,
and then leveling it and nailing the sides in the provided
holes. He demonstrated that not all shingles on the project
were applied parallel to one another or with the lines of the
house, and he reasoned that the subcontractor did not follow
the instructions. (Exs. E, G, J, L, GG).
Beane noted large, inconsistent gaps between the strips of
the siding. While most shingle squares appear uniform because
they come from a large sheet of vinyl, there are larger,
noticeable gaps throughout siding (Exs. F, G, N, O, V, Z, CC,
GG). He concluded that this resulted from the application of
the shingles in different temperatures, and not providing for
the expansion of the shingles in different temperatures. He
noted that Novik includes a temperature gage in each box of
shingle sheets, so the distance between the sheets can be set
according to the temperature with the gage. Not using this
gage was a deviation from the instructions and constituted
Beane, through the use of photographic evidence, established
that the corner pieces were not tucked into the "J
strips" provided by the manufacturer, so the shingles
are not watertight. (Exs. E, J, S, Y, AA). There are similar
noticeable gaps beneath the windows, around the gutters,
around doors, and at other corners of the house. (Exs. K, N,
Y, Z, CC, DD) Some of the J strips are uneven.
Beane explained that when shingling a house, holes are cut by
the installer into the shingling to provide for lights,
spigots, showerheads, hoses and other conduits from the
house. Through the photographs he showed a number of cuts
which were not sealed and left exposed to the weather. (Exs.
P, R, T, Y, Z, AA, BB, EE, FF). While Mr. Lee later referred
to this as a "small fix, " and in his Post-Trial
Brief as "secondary issues" ...