Argued: December 11, 2018
Christopher E. Pazar, Esq. (orally), and William J. Kennedy,
Esq., Drummond & Drummond, LLP, Portland, for appellants
Carl E. and Elizabeth A. Breivogel
A. Pileggi, Esq. (orally), Acadia Law Group LLC, Ellsworth,
for appellee John Sweet II Hancock County Superior Court
docket number CV-2014-52 For Clerk Reference Only
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
In this appeal involving a dispute over payment for the
construction of a traditional timber frame home, we consider
the connection between the Home Construction Contracts Act
(HCCA) and the Unfair Trade Practice Act (UTPA), take this
opportunity to underscore the significance of the statutory
requirement that construction contracts be formalized in
writing, and affirm the judgment. See 5 M.R.S.
§ 213(1), (2) (2017); 10 M.R.S. §§ 1487, 1490
The following facts are drawn from the court's judgment
and are supported by competent evidence in the record.
See Gravison v. Fisher, 2016 ME 35, ¶ 3, 134
John Sweet II is a sole proprietor who specializes in the
construction of traditional timber frame homes, which involve
a high level of labor, time, and craftmanship. In February
2013, Carl E. and Elizabeth A. Breivogel contacted Sweet
through his construction-business website and inquired about
building "an enclosed, [weathertight] frame home"
on land they own on Mount Desert Island.
In March 2013, the Breivogels traveled to Maine and met with
Sweet at his self-constructed timber frame home. During that
visit, the Breivogels viewed Sweet's workshops as well as
two other timber frame homes that Sweet had constructed.
While the parties did not reach any agreements that day,
Sweet did provide the Breivogels with some information about
the relative costs of the homes they visited. Specifically,
he told the Breivogels that it would cost approximately $500,
000 to build a 28' x 30' completed home like his and
$400, 000 to construct the 32' x 32' home they
visited that was little more than a "dried shell"
or "weathertight" home.
After that meeting, the parties continued to communicate via
email. In one exchange dated March 26, 2013, the parties
began to discuss the costs associated with building a saltbox
style timber frame home. The Breivogels asked
Sweet whether it would be possible to build a home of this
style for $275, 000, not including the septic system for
which the Breivogels would make other arrangements. Sweet
responded that it was possible, but difficult to be certain
at that early stage of the discussion because "the devil
[']s in the details."
From that point forward, the parties did not share the same
understanding of the scope and cost of the work Sweet was to
perform. Sweet believed that the Breivogels wanted him to
construct an enclosed, weathertight timber frame
home-including only a frame, walls, roof, insulation, doors,
windows, chimney, and exterior shingles. In contrast, the
Breivogels believed that they had requested a fully completed
home, ready for occupancy, costing no more than $275, 000.
In April 2013, the Breivogels authorized Sweet to begin
construction; however, the parties never signed a contract.
When the Breivogels inquired when the parties would formalize
the terms of the project, Sweet insisted that he had never
signed a written contract in over thirty years of business.
The parties did, however, arrange that the Breivogels would
be billed biweekly and pay for all materials and any labor at
$32 an hour.
Sweet and his team began construction of a dried shell
structure in the summer of 2013 and completed the work in
December of that year. Throughout the project, Sweet sent
numerous emails to the Breivogels containing photographs
depicting the progress on their home. He also provided
biweekly invoices; despite these frequent ...