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Contractor Law Question For California Contractors

 
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:12 PM   #1
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Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


Hello Forum I hope everyone is doing okay and staying busy. Anyways my question is for any california contractors that can give me an answer. It pertains to contractor law.

Here is the scenario:

Last week I went to give a bid on an exterior paint job. Homeowner gave me warning signs that he was going to be a pain in the butt, but me needing the work, decided to ignore the signs. Well I gave him a quote and he agreed to the price. We show up to pressure wash and I have a contract for him. We both look it over and he agrees to it and signs it. So I'm thinking that all is well. About an hour into the pressure washing he approaches me and tells me that he wants to go with a different coating than what was stated in the contract. I let him know that I will accept that change but that it might affect the original price(I also have a paragraph in my contract stating this about change orders). He goes off on me telling me that it won't affect the price, that there isn't much difference and that he already did his research, pretty much telling me as if he is the painting contractor. He continues like this for a good week still unsure of what he wants even after the contract was signed. He calls me again today telling me that he wants a primer coat, an elastomeric coat, and a low sheen topcoat on his wood siding, which wasn't what we agreed to on the contract, I let him know again that it is going to cost him extra, and he goes off againg complaining that it is too expensive. I basically told him that he could either take it or leave it. In a nutshell he basically wants me to agree to all this extra work and not charge him extra. He even started calling other contractors after the contract was signed, to see if they could give him a better price. He hasn't even respected the contract at all.

So my question is, am I still legally bound to this contract after all these issues, because I am at the point where I don't want to move forward on this job anymore, even if he agrees in the end to get done only what is stated in the contract. the guy is really giving me bad vibes that he is going to be a pain in the neck all the way through the job. I have not accepted any money up front from him at all, and all i have done is pressure wash. I even told him not to pay me for the pressure washing so I could get him off of my back.
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:21 PM   #2
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Re: Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


Without reviewing the contract it's hard to say, but there is some safe answers

First off, where is your deposit? Never sign a contract with a HO without any money exchanging hands to show their seriousness. Now that that is behind us...

Fill out a change order form, present it to him and word it that unless it is signed and returned within 72 hours work will proceed as orginally stated in the contract. If you can get him to sign a mutual release and cancel the contract you could walk away. If not carry on, I hope you were smart enough to put in progress draws on the contract!!!??? Once you reach the first progress draw, should he fail to pay it, put him on notice and pull off the job and lein the project. No progress draws, just getting one big check at the end of the job? Well, finish it and when he doesn't pay you, lein it.

Gut feelings are not accepted as evidence in court

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Old 08-29-2008, 11:15 PM   #3
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Re: Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


Thank you for the helpful information.

I guess at this point, I don't care if I lose out on the labor for the pressure washing, it isn't much. I just dread having to deal with this guy's attitude.
I don't know if you have worked for people like this before, there just isn't any pleasing them. whatever you do there is always something for them to pick at. Its as if they feel that contractors are supposed to slave over the job and not get compensated for them. I can almost picture him looking over my shoulder every time. What irritated me is that he went ahead to get other estimates after already having signed a contract with me.
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Old 08-30-2008, 12:57 AM   #4
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Re: Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


He can do as he pleased, meaning he can get other estimates, even after the contract is signed. It's a contract, it should have provision and direction for both signing parties. Your obviously pretty new in business...that's okay, we all started somewhere, it's people like this guy who will help you improve your contract by adding new clauses in the next one...and so on...and so on.

What ever you do, follow the contract to a 'T', if you so much as do one thing out of what the contract allows...he wins...remember in court he is an innocent unsuspecting homeowner...you are the professional...the judge gives him more leeway then you.
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Old 08-30-2008, 05:04 PM   #5
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Re: Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


Anytime you submit a contract to be signed, you must, by CA law include a Notice of Right to Cancel. This lets the client know that by law they have 3 days from the date the contract is signed to change their mind. If you receive a deposit, and the client changes his/her mind within that first 3 days, you must return any money received. It gets a little more complicated than that, but the important thing to know is that he is well within his rights to continue getting bids within those first three days and he does not have to pay you for any work performed if you started work the day the contract was signed. Your best bet for the future is to always wait three days before starting work, don't cash any deposit checks till after the third day (you should always require a deposit and progress payments) and after that, always get HO to sign and date change orders if they want to change thier mind about anything.

Law also requires that you list in the contracts all the products that you will be using. When the HO signs the contract with products listed, then those are what you are required to use. Change orders. Very important. As you may also know, the law in CA changed about two or so years back that verbal contracts are no longer legal. Must be on paper, signed, and dated. His word doesn't mean st in court and neither does yours. Sorry.

My last bit of advice is that you should always follow that gut instinct, and walk away when something does not feel right. I once walked away from a $21,000 exterior job. I gave the guy a call 2-3 months later to find out how it went with the company who ended up doing the work, and based on what he was telling me, I have no regrets about not wanting to take the job. Even after all that, he still wants me to paint his interior.
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Old 08-30-2008, 05:28 PM   #6
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Re: Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


Oh, and as for trying to get out of the contract, unless he agrees, your sort of stuck. Perhaps you can discuss with him why the cost would be different and maybe he will see what you are referring to. Break it down to him. Let him know elastomeric requires two coats and uses more paint per sq. ft. Elastomeric is self priming, so you could get away with not priming, unless the stucco is not in great shape. Perhaps if you break it all down in the change order, he will finally get the picture. Good luck.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:56 AM   #7
 
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Re: Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


If the guy wanted to get other bids then he should never have signed the contract. I've had this happen to me where the contract is signed and then the guy tells me he wants me to start without taking a deposit for the paint and I've just gotten stuck with a bad job and a boss i wanted to hurt. I would have never became a contractor if i wanted that to happen! make him stick to your contract and talk through all the details of the two coats of elastomeric.
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Old 04-18-2009, 12:07 PM   #8
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Re: Contractor Law Question For California Contractors


I'm from Chicago, not Cali...so forgive me for overstepping here.

If all you have done is pressurewash so far.....take the loss and run. jobs and customers like this are toxic.

This guy is going to complain and nitpick your work....and he'll hold your money and grind you out.

run brother.

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