Cantrell v. Woodhill Enterprises, Inc., 201

Decision Date17 April 1968
Docket NumberNo. 201,201
Citation160 S.E.2d 476,273 N.C. 490
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesWillis CANTRELL and wife, Carolyn Cantrell v. WOODHILL ENTERPRISES, INC.

Hollowell, Stott & Hollowell, Gastonia, for plaintiff appellants.

Mullen, Holland & Harrell, Gastonia, for defendant appellee.

SHARP, Justice.

This appeal involves only the question whether plaintiffs' evidence, together with that of the defendant which is favorable to them, will withstand the motion for nonsuit. 4 Strong, N.C. Index, Trial § 21 (1961). Plaintiff's complaint is (1) that defendant failed to construct the house according to specifications; (2) that the landscaping did not meet the specifications; and (3) that the residence was erected in an unskillful manner.

The express contract upon which plaintiffs sue consists of the plans and specifications, which plaintiff and defendant signed and the Veterans' Administration approved. The sketch which plaintiff gave Mr. Doster, and which he used as the basis for the final blueprints, was merely one facet of the preliminary negotiations which were merged in the subsequent written agreement between the parties. This agreement is conclusive as to the terms of the bargain. Williams v. McLean, 220 N.C. 504, 17 S.E.2d 644; 1 Strong, N.C. Index, Contracts § 5 (1957). The evidence of plaintiffs and defendant shows that the house was constructed in conformity with the plans and specifications signed by the parties and approved by the Veterans' Administration. Thus, plaintiffs failed to establish their allegation that the residence was not constructed in accordance with the plans and specifications.

With reference to landscaping, the contract provided, Inter alia, that topsoil four inches thick should be placed on the front yard and that two shade trees be planted. Plaintiff testified that no topsoil was put on the front yard and that no shade trees were planted. Doster testified that all the required landscaping was done; that he planted no shade trees because there were two already on the lot. Be that as it may, if shade trees and topsoil were not provided as called for in the specifications, these omissions were obvious at the time plaintiffs moved into the house about 11 June 1963, at the time they signed the declaration of acceptance on 18 June 1963, and at the time they closed the loan and paid defendant the purchase price in full.

Plaintiffs' acceptance of the completed house and lot was in writing and unequivocal. It was executed neither under protest nor with reservations. Although plaintiff testified that he made certain complaints to Mr. Stroup at the time of the final inspection, there is no evidence that he protested to defendant. Acceptance manifests one's intent to receive the thing offered or tendered as one's own; it is a tacit agreement that the offerer--here the builder--has complied with his required duty. 'Acceptance implies satisfaction and waives many rights.' Moss v. Best Knitting Mills, 190 N.C. 644, 647, 130 S.E. 635, 636. See Black's Law Dictionary 27 (4th ed.1951). In Salem Realty Co. v. Batson, 256 N.C. 298, 123 S.E.2d 744, this Court quoted with approval the following statement of the rules with reference to acceptance and waiver in building and construction contracts:

"Where work is accepted with knowledge that it has not been done according to the contract or under such circumstances that knowledge of its imperfect performance may be imputed the acceptance will generally be deemed a waiver of the defective performance. But this rule does not apply to latent defects. The acceptance of work which has been defectively done, the defects being unknown and not discoverable by inspection, does not amount to a waiver of the imperfect performance.' 12 Am.Jur., Contracts § 355. Annotation: 109 A.L.R. 625, 628. In City of Seaside v. Randles, 92 Or. 650, 180 P. 319, it is stated: 'An acceptance of work done under a construction contract does not constitute a waiver of latent defects of which the owner was ignorant at the time, or which may appear thereafter." Id. at 308, 123 S.E.2d at 751. See also 13 Am.Jur.2d, Building and Construction Contracts § 55 (1964).

Plaintiffs' evidence, taken in the light most favorable to them, tends to show that at the time they accepted the property, there existed the following latent defects which were unknown to them and not discoverable by inspection: Defective subflooring in the living room and kitchen, poor workmanship in filling the nail holes in the hardwood floors in the hall and bedrooms caused by 'face-nailing' in the rooms, and improper installation of the overhead cabinets in the kitchen.

It is the duty of every contractor or builder to perform his work in a proper and workmanlike manner, and he impliedly represents that he possesses the skill necessary to do the job he has undertaken. 'In order to meet this requirement, the law exacts ordinary care and skill only.' Moss v. Best Knitting Mills, supra, 190 N.C. at 648, 130 S.E. 637; accord, Byerly v. Kepley, 46 N.C. 35.

The only allegation which plaintiffs make with reference to faulty workmanship in the house is the generalization that defendant 'erected said residence in an unskillful manner.' In an action for breach of a building or construction contract--just as in any other contract case--the complaint must allege the existence of a contract between plaintiff and defendant, the specific provisions breached, The facts constituting the breach, and the amount of damages resulting to plaintiff from such breach. 1 McIntosh,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
60 cases
  • John S. Clark Co., Inc. v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Ill.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 16, 2004
    ...constituting the breach and the amount of damages resulting to plaintiff from such breach.") (citing Cantrell v. Woodhill Enters., Inc., 273 N.C. 490, 497, 160 S.E.2d 476, 481 (1968)); see also Cowan v. Laughridge Const. Co., 57 N.C.App. 321, 324-25, 291 S.E.2d 287, 289 (1982) ("In order to......
  • X-It Products v. Walter Kidde Portable Equipment
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • July 9, 2001
    ...of the contract breached, the facts constituting a breach, and damages resulting from that breach. See Cantrell v. Woodhill Enters., Inc., 273 N.C. 490, 497, 160 S.E.2d 476, 481 (1968). Both parties agree that they executed the Confidentiality Agreement and the Court assumes the validity of......
  • SAS Inst. Inc. v. World Programming Ltd.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of North Carolina
    • September 29, 2014
    ...[t]he facts constituting the breach, and ... damages resulting to plaintiff from such breach.” Cantrell v. Woodhill Enterprises, Inc., 273 N.C. 490, 497, 160 S.E.2d 476, 481 (1968) ; see also Morgan's Ferry Prods., LLC v. Rudd, 18 Fed.Appx. 111, 112 (4th Cir.2001) (“Under North Carolina law......
  • Intersal, Inc. v. Hamilton
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • November 1, 2019
    ...breach." RGK, Inc. v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co. , 292 N.C. 668, 675, 235 S.E.2d 234, 238 (1977) (quoting Cantrell v. Woodhill Enterprises, Inc. , 273 N.C. 490, 497, 160 S.E.2d 476, 481 (1968) ). Even assuming—without deciding—that plaintiff's aforementioned assertions were allegations concernin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT