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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few months ago I was called by a new customer that was recommended by an established client to do some upgrades to a new house that she bought.
The job was to install new flooring and paint the interior. I wrote out a contract and was paid for the jobs which the client was extremely happy for the the quality of workmanship and the relatively fast completion date. Client paid and all was good.
Then the client wanted two bathrooms remodeled in which we were happy to do for her. we estimated the jobs and we agreed on the price. We pulled permits and I submitted a design in which she was very happy about. The client brought her own licensed plumber in which she paid directly and I brought my own licensed electrician in which she also paid directly. In the interim of the job things were going very well despite the usual delays of waiting for tile, waiting for the inspector and coordinating the plumber and electrician. My job as a GC was to (as we all do) was to oversee the job and make sure things go smoothly while at the same time juggle a half dozen other jobs in the area. Unfortunately my daughter at the time was diagnosed with melanoma cancer and needed treatment. I explained this to the customer in that I need to take time off to handle this but assured her that if need be my guys can pop in from time to time and do the work. She indicated that I "should take as much time as you need and our prayer are always with you and your daughter". All this time Mrs. X was happy the way the job progressed. After 2 weeks I came in full force and completed the job. Mrs. X's Daughter who was paying the bills (Miss Z) indicated in an email that when the job is done and all the inspections are approved we will pay you the balance of $3500.
A week before we completed the job Mrs. X dropped a bombshell (without explanation) and told me that in 30 years and moving 20 times I was the worst contractor she ever dealt with????? I was floored since I have always run a ligitamate customer oriented service to my clients and never heard that said about me, in fact quite the contrary.
When the inspections were done and she was very happy with the outcome I asked her again, I don't know why you have something against me but I know you're happy with the bathrooms (btw she LOVED my workers), can we work again for you in the future? She said NO. So I said OooKaaay...
When my electrician came in to collect his fee he asked her about me and she said "I don't like Marshall because he's never here and only comes in when he asks for money".
I went nuts on this because I break a $13,000 job into five progress payment specifically not to get hurt on the last payment. The last payment I received a month ago. The inspections were approved, we cleaned up and removed debris and did the "extras". Now 2 weeks later both mrs. x and miss.z do not answer phone calls or emails...(am I being punished for asking for money?)
My problem is I did not make a contract for this job, however I have paperwork, plans, emails on agreements of price and progress payments, etc.
I have never really gotten stiffed before but I need advice on how to proceed. Should I call the police and give them a visit, send a registered letter, knock on her door, send a letter about threatening to file a mechanics lein, file a lein, etc. I'm not a nasty guy and i realize that i can't save this relationship for future work but I paid my subs already and I'd like to move on and finish this professionlly.
Sorry for the long post but I need guidance here.

Thanks,
Marshall
 

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JimmyS
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224 Posts
court?

Do you want to go to court and maybe split the difference (you have a hardship, some paperwork and emails; she has verbal-agreement-differences and probably a minor schedule b*tch)? or just eat the final payment? She said she'd pay once you were inspected and cleaned up, and you did, so you could offer to split the final billing amount?
I'd try the latter, and if she resists too much, just absolve her of further payments (swear all you like in your office while writing) in writing, snail mail. Sounds like she owes you $3,500? Fairly cheap schooling for the Always Write a Contract lesson. In Mass. here you have to write a contract for a job that size. I would not apologize if you did nothing wrong, just say you wish it could have worked out better and move on.

If you had a contract that you had fulfilled, then you could expect it to be honored in court. Without it, it's a gamble. The end of your sentence that says "...and juggle six other jobs..." makes me wonder if you do feel you shirked her job a bit.
Sometimes life deals you a hit (I'm sorry about your daughter) and you reel from the blow. This sounds like one of those times. By 2019 you won't think of it more than once or twice a year (that's how long it took me).
Jim
 

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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Do you want to go to court and maybe split the difference (you have a hardship, some paperwork and emails; she has verbal-agreement-differences and probably a minor schedule b*tch)? or just eat the final payment? She said she'd pay once you were inspected and cleaned up, and you did, so you could offer to split the final billing amount?
I'd try the latter, and if she resists too much, just absolve her of further payments (swear all you like in your office while writing) in writing, snail mail. Sounds like she owes you $3,500? Fairly cheap schooling for the Always Write a Contract lesson. In Mass. here you have to write a contract for a job that size. I would not apologize if you did nothing wrong, just say you wish it could have worked out better and move on.

If you had a contract that you had fulfilled, then you could expect it to be honored in court. Without it, it's a gamble. The end of your sentence that says "...and juggle six other jobs..." makes me wonder if you do feel you shirked her job a bit.
Sometimes life deals you a hit (I'm sorry about your daughter) and you reel from the blow. This sounds like one of those times. By 2019 you won't think of it more than once or twice a year (that's how long it took me).
Jim
Thanks for the insight. My contract specifically states arbitration instead of court. She did sign the original contract for the flooring and paint. why I didn't get the her the next contract was probably trust and stupidity on my part. May be she doesn't want to pay because I ask for money? I know she has no issues with the work, I don't know what the issues are because she's not communicating with me.
 

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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
she had her own plumber and used your electrican but paid him direct
how does that make you the gc?
I GC'd the carpentry, tiling, paint etc. And I took the responsibility for scheduling and working with the plumber and electrician. Basically I oversaw the entire project but I did not profit from the plumber and electricians work.
 

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Lesson learned: Always use a contract. J F is right about the change order to. In most states it is required by law to use a contract and have all addendum signed whether they affect the time frame and cost of the project or not.

Now chalk it up to experience and move on. You have something way more important to worry about! I wish you and your family the best and pray your daughter makes a full recovery.
 

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If the HO thinks you only stop by to collect money, then prove her right and go collect it.
IMO, if the job was completed to spec and HO satisfaction you need to get paid, there is no gray area.
Once the brush-off is in effect I have zero problem being at a house early am, dinner time, billy's baseball game etc to collect a due amount.

Personally, I don't want a referral from a deadbeat/problem customer. Birds of a feather flock together.
 

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gemal, Im sorry to hear about the customer payment and your daughter.

As a Business Owner I cant give advice (it hasnt happened to me yet), but the last company I worked for I was in charge of invoicing and estimating, the owners policy (which I was to enforce) was as follows:

1) Call once Monday, Wednesday, Friday, if no answer or call back call again the next monday and leave a message stating somethign along the lines of we can work out payments...(times are rough, unexpected expenses, etc...use whatever nice reason to recommend payments I could think of)

2) No call back by Wednesday send a letter "Nice letter" explaining all requirements of job had been met, inspections passed etc...we need to hear from you soon.

3) No response to (2) send final letter explaining we will be a) filling lien if applicable or b) pursuing the issue in court

4) no response in 14 days we file with court if amount if amount is over 2,500. File lien if amount is 1,000 or more.

Neither of number four helps immediately, and often times we had customers pay "ONCE" we filed in court. Lien never helps unless the property is being sold in my experience.

The trouble with your situation is that if it gets to number four you've got no contract, so filing a lien is probobly not possible. Court may help you out if you bring in all the evidence, but the lawyer is going to charge more because its not a plain contract just a bunch of misc things that add up to you doing the work and not being paid.

Tough lesson, hopefully she pays before you get to four.
 

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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Guys, lesson learned. I sent an email and got an automated response that Miss Z, who works in the film industry will be out of the office on a limited email response until August 3rd. I'll wait a day after before I proceed with the letters.
 

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keep us posted on how it all works out.

Best case you get all your money AND a lesson learned, worst case you get no money AND a lesson learned.

Try and look for a positive
 
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