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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am installing a heating system in a new house for a homeowner. This is the third new home that I have worked on for this particular person. The job is partially completed. I am waiting for him to get sheetrock and paint on the walls so that I can install baseboard registers. He is coordinating the finish work himself, so it will probably be 8 months before he is ready. He wants me to come in and do part of the work before he is ready for the finish. I told him that if wants me to come for a special trip each time he has a little more done, I would be willing to do that, but I would want a partial payment on the contract amount after I did that portion of the work. He refused said he does not have to pay me any more until the job is finished. He also said that he has no money at this time. He then contacted an attorney. The attorney told me that the homeowner is hiring another contractor and I need to provide them with an itemized statement of what I have into the job so far. I told his attorney that I have been following the contract and the attorney has not disagreed with that. Any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated.
 

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Fine Handcrafted Opinions
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Send the lawyer and the owner a bill for everything you've done, any extras you can think of and add to it, any time you've spent thinking about that job, lost income opportunity, and anything else you can think of. Tell the owner it's been nice knowing him.

At least, I that's my initial reaction to some horse's ass who would pull that kind of BS.
 

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I limit the different break outs on a bill (i.e. don't break out more than you have to), send it on, and consider myself lucky that I got out before he was into me for the whole job.
 

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I own stock in FotoMat!
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Bill for all due monies immediately. Keep all records.

Funny how he's out of money but can hire both another contractor and a lawyer.
 
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Again.....submit the bill as high as you can as you will have to possibly settle for a bit less.

You can go into % of job completed but do not answer how many hours, material mark up, profit or overhead. That's proprietary information. The lawyer is not going to argue with you on this. He / she just wants to settle and get a release of lien from you.

When was the last time (days) you performed labor there ? This has to do with your lien rights.

The HO may be selling to another builder to get out from under ? You may be in for an awakening from the atty -- take .25 / dollar or the HO bankruptcy ?

Let us know what happens.
 

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Sounds like the homeowner is using an attorney to scare you. Well he did a great job because its working. send him a bill of the work up until today. Send LOTS OF PAPER work for his attorney. Once he realizes that its cheaper to pay you the agreed upon wage then go the legal route, you'll get a check and and apology!
 

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Be Honest!

The attorney probably wants to know the amount due so you can get paid.

In situations like this I don't like to play guessing games and I lay my cards on the table right away to get matters resolved asap. Otherwise, it becomes a spitting match.

So, a heating contractor should get no less than $120 per hour. I would carefully write a bill detailing every hour including travel time, going to the supply house, materials, permit costs, meeting with the customer, etc. Present the bill to the attorney, wait, and try to work with his attorney.

Lawyers are too smart to worry about liens, threats, lawsuits and I would make sure I don't even get these matters in the mix. Rather that trying to control someone else's attorney it is always better to be humble and ask rather than tell. "You get more bees with honey than vinegar." I would like to ask his attorney why the customer is cancelling.

But, don't feel bad because for the past few years I have had problems with customers every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks to everyone who responded to my post. The contract amount is for $15,500 and I have received $10,000 so far. I feel as though I am about even as far as the work completed. I am not looking for lost profits on the balance. I am not the one breaking the contract. I told him I was willing and able to complete the job when he is ready for the finish. Am I obligated to send anything to his attorney at this point? This was a bid job and not time and materials. So, if I respond should I talk about the percentage of work completed and not get into itemizing every hour and every foot of tubing, etc.? It is as simple as the homeowner being stubborn. He wants me out on the jobsite every time he has a whim. He has not complained about my workmanship or anything else on the job.
 

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"...He refused said he does not have to pay me any more until the job is finished. He also said that he has no money at this time. He then contacted an attorney...."

Uh-oh. Bump that!!! If he doesn't have any money he shouldn't have started the work. If he doesn't have the money now, how does he intend to have the money in the future? It's time to take this stuff to criminal courts, not civil.

I am dealing with a similar situation, except the work was completed (if you have already roughed in, then most of the work is complete for you as well).
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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Am I obligated to send anything to his attorney at this point?
Nope. You aren't obligated to send him squat. The only thing that obligates you to do anything is a court order.

Also know that court orders are issued and sent by the court. Not the attorney. So if he says, "I have a court order blah-blah-blah.." tell him to go polish a hubcap.
 

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The attorney is smart... He cannot advise his client that they can walk away from a contract, so instead he is trying to change the term of the contract by having you provide them with an itemized statement of what you have into the job so far, so they can change the term, pay you off and go with someone else.

What you should do instead is provide them with a copy of a signed contract between you and them, and tell them if you wish to hire someone else, the balance is indicated on the payment schedule and if they have any questions to contact you at any time.

With that said what you have into the job it's not theirs business and attorney is aware of that unless he is real dumbf^ck.
 

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Send the attorney a bill for work completed. DO NOT talk to the customer directly. He wants you to cave in and submit to his whims. Once he wins on this house, you will be treated the same on all of his other projects.

The customer will probably change his tune once the lawyer tells him he received the bill from you. Since no one wants to walk into/take over a job at the end. And have to run out everytime a new wall is completed.
 

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Send the attorney a bouquet of flowers and say thank you for letting me know your client is a dead beat, you saved me lots of grey hairs.

Then lien his house for the balance on the contract.
 

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beenthere said:
Once he wins on this house, you will be treated the same on all of his other projects.
All his other projects? That ship has sailed, dude. Maybe I'm the exception, but if someone does that to me, there is a very (and I do mean very) slim chance of any "other projects".
 

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Most attorneys write their letter to you saying they represent your customer. I would call the attorney several times and send him several letters, pictures etc and spread it out to drive the homeowners legal fee bills through the roof. One day send a bill, two days later send an insurance doc. two days later send a license copy, two days later send an itemization of day 1 s work, day 2 work, day 3 work, and so on. Call the attorney to verify he got your mail a few times too. Ask him to please mail you confirmations also. Send him your auto policy, an accidental copy of your homeowners policy and then send a letter saying you're sorry for sending that.....Its a game and the attorney is stuck in the middle trying to get paid too. I did this once and then met with the "puppet"...I mean attorney and the file was like a telephone book. I imagine the bill was the same since he told me he wasn't representing the guy anymore.
 
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