Plante v. Jacobs

Supreme Court of Wisconsin, 1960.

10 Wis.2d 567, 103 N.W.2d 296.

Dawson, pp. 829-832


Facts: The plaintiff contracted with the defendants to build them a house.  When it was done,


Issue: Has there been substantial performance of the contract to build the house, and if so, what should be the measure of damages?


Rule: The contract was substantially performed if the performance meets the essential purpose of the contract.  If the performance is substantial but incomplete and faulty, the correct measure of damages is the difference between the value of the house as it stands and the value it would have had if it had been built correctly.  If there are a small number of small defects that can be fixed at some reasonable expense, that cost is allowed as part of the remedy.


Analysis: The court approves of the way that the trial court combined the two rules given above.  The court rejects the contention that the item of the misplaced living room wall should be treated under the cost-of-repair rule as opposed to the diminished-value rule (which was actually used at trial).  The court notes that the value of the house wasn’t really diminished by the misplaced wall, so it would be economically wasteful to give the defendants money to knock down the wall and rebuilt it in the right place.


Conclusion: The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in full.


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