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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi gang. I guess it might vary by state, but wondering what I can do about a homeowner that won't pay me my final amount. I built a great deck and gazebo for this person and it does not look like they will pay me my final amount. Legally, can I start taking the deck back, or since it is attached to his property, would I technically be stealing? I don't have the time or money to sue him and I don't want to get thrown in jail either.
 

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Hi gang. I guess it might vary by state, but wondering what I can do about a homeowner that won't pay me my final amount. I built a great deck and gazebo for this person and it does not look like they will pay me my final amount. Legally, can I start taking the deck back, or since it is attached to his property, would I technically be stealing? I don't have the time or money to sue him and I don't want to get thrown in jail either.

Don't touch the deck, unless you want to spend a little time in the local jail.:eek:
First you must isolate the reasons why they won't pay, then try to take away the objections. For example, if they wand some small change, it may pay to humor them.
Failing to please them, you can lien the property, and or take them to small claims court.:mad:
 

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What is the reason they don't want to pay?What does your contract say?Are all your ducks in a row as far as license and insurance for your area?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
homeowner won't pay - contd

Hi gang -

A little more background...

We delivered the job two weeks late (mainly material supply and weather issues). Our contract is complete now but the homeowner asked that we put stone under the deck a few days ago. I said sure we can, I will work up the price. Homeowner refuses to pay because he says he does not have confidence that we will get the stone done in a timely manner. He agrees that it is not in the contract, but says he needs to hold my remaining $5000 hostage to ensure we do the work. To get my money quickly, I have to run around getting stone for him to look at and then mobilize to put it in. It's only about $600 worth of labor and materials, yet he is holding 5k hostage. I won't do anything until he signs the extra, of course, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he really will pay. That's why, if he does not, I want to say "ok, guys, start taking the deck apart"
 

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I own stock in FotoMat!
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What the HO is asking for is an additional contract. If you have completed your contract for the deck / gazebo, then you need to be paid. The stone is an extra, and he HO cannot legally withhold payment for the deck / gazebo because of a second contract.
 
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Happens all the time. Customer gets to thinking that he's paying too much, or he wants something extra, and then refuses to pay until he gets it. I get it several times a year. You can either suck it up and do it, or stand on principle. If it's $5000, just get a change order signed and then do it. It they still won't pay, take them to court.
 

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Who is the contract with? - You or the material supplier?

Do you have a contract with the homeowner and what does it describe for the project?
 

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$5,000 sounds like alot for final on a deck. If he doesn't have confidence that you can do the stone in a timely manner than tell him yes he is right he should get someone else to do that.
 

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It always helps to have a witness when talking to a HO who won't pay. Ask him straight up: if I put the stone down, will you pay the final $ 5K ?
If he says yes, then go for the extra $600 and take the payment. If he still won't settle, bring that witness into small claims court; you'll have a good case.
 

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Tell him deck is done and pay up. That part of the contract is up. You can put a lien on his house and you may get your money if he goes to sell or refi. I would also check to see what the limits are for small claims they are usually to low to make it worth it . Call your State Registration board and ask for help but dont hold your breath there either. This is one of the problems with the homeowner /contractor relationship. All the safeguards for the Homeowner and nothing tangable to fight it on our end except expensive laywers. There are probably a whole pile of websites about homeowner rights and actions to take against contractors out there. Good luck finding one in your favor. I have never tried it but a collection agency, may be an avenue to explore. Usually people will act if there credit comes into play. I would try to find common ground before any of this. If all else fails halloween is comin and there is one every year for the next 5000 years.
 

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You go into a restaurant and order a meal and then when it comes time to pay you walk out with paying, you will go to jail.

It is the same thing not paying for a job when the bill is due... we should be able to just call the police and have the HO arrested... I don't know if it would actually work or not, probably not but I am curious...
 

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If a person defaults on a loan, they get harrassed constantly by creditors and have their credit screwed up. Why cant a contractor do the same to a homeowner if all the paperwork is in order and everything is legal?
:mad:
 

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John, Yes it varies from state to state. Did you have a contract drawn up for the work you did? If so depending on the amount I would proceeded with small claims court, every state is different on how much you’re allowed to sue in small claims court. Also I would put a mechanic lean against the home owner’s property until full payment has been received. With the outstanding balance you might even start adding interest on the money that you’re owed. But you have to continue to send an invoice each month showing the interest that is accumulating with the final payment.
I’m not a lawyer so do not quote me on this, Thanks and Good Luck! If you need help on researching anything just give me a call. Thanks


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