Pinches v. Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church

55 Conn. 183, 10 A. 264 (1887)



Compensation is allowed for services rendered and materials furnished under a special contract, but not in entire conformity with it, provided that the deviation from the contract was not wilful, and the other party has availed himself of, and been benefited by, such labor and materials; and as a general rule the amount of such compensation is to depend upon the extent of the benefit conferred, having reference to the contract price for the entire work. In cases where only some additions to the work are required to finish it according to the contract, or where, the defects in it may be remedied at a reasonable expense, it seems proper to deduct from the contract price the sum which it would cost to complete it.


The contractor constructed an edifice for the church, but the completed project was not in exact compliance with the contract specifications. The contractor then brought this action seeking recovery for the work performed and materials furnished. The trial court rendered a judgment in favor of the contractor. The church appealed, alleging the trial court erred in excluding its proffered evidence as to the amount it would have cost to make the building conform to the contract, based on their proposition that they were entitled to that amount in damages.


Should the contractor be able to recover for the work performed and materials furnished?




It noted that the expenditure required to make the building conform would probably have deprived the contractor of any compensation for his labor. Furthermore, the structure had been adapted to the purpose for which it was built, and was in use by the church. Also, the contractor's errors were not intentional or willful. Finally, the court agreed that the trial court properly deducted from the contract price the amount of the diminution in the value of the building by reason of the contractor's deviation from the contract.

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