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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2005-09-01          115795


Hi guys. I hired a contractor to put a foundation under my house (it was on blocks). We agreed to a price, everything included. My wife was there as a witness. It was to be done in 9-10 working days. Well as the job progressed he started to not remember the "everything is included" deal. He finished after about 30 working days and gave me a bill for the job plus some materials. These were sills, foam, etc.. I went ahead and paid the bill even though it was abou $1100 more than he originally quoted. Now a couple of weeks later he dropped off a bill (in my mailbox) from one of his subcontractors (plumbing) for $1750 for reconnecting my plumbing. The bill is to me but I have never spoken or even seen this sub. I just dont think thats right. Especially since I heard the sub was here for only about an hour and the only materials he replaced is some PVC pipe that the contractor broke in the first place. Plus it was all supposed to be included in the first place.

What do I do? Any words of wisdom?

Thanks,
BC

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2005-09-01          115797


Contact your local construction contractors board. Did you get the contract in writing? That would help. ....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2005-09-01          115799


Definately pigeon bait. I had a few quotes like this and I am sure they are looking for a quick score. Often contractors will low ball a job to get it and then add material etc to sweeten their deal. I agree you need to check this guy out. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2005-09-01          115808


Thanks fellas, I will search for the contractors board. I do have the initial agreement from the one contractor in writing but it is not super specific. What happens if I dont pay the sub? #1 I think somethings up. $1750 for rehooking up one sewer pipe and one water line. Plus I had no knowledge of any of that. It was to be "handled". Can he put a lien on my place even though I never even heard of him?

Thanks,
BC ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2005-09-01          115809


Not sure what your state laws are but he can likely put a lien on your house. They like to abuse that capability to extort money out of people.

We had a situation like this when we built our house. The finish carpenter (who USED to be a good friend of our GC) quoted us a price in writing. As construction proceeded there were adds and deletes from the job, none of it in writing. He verbally assured myself, my wife, and the GC that the changes were a wash and we were on budget. But he fell way behind on the job and refused the GC's offer to bring in additional help. He was trying to do all the finish carpentry in a 4000 sf custom home by himself. The GC was putting a lot of pressure on him to catch up, but he put us six weeks behind schedule and the GC and him had huge arguments over it. He finally finished the job, then billed $15k over the contractual price and claimed he had to do a lot of additional work, like reinstall all the doors (originally installed by another crew) and rebuild the stairway framing (originally done by the rough carpenters). That was the first anyone heard of the extra work. I was on site nearly every day and never saw him do anything extra. We refused to pay and he placed a lien on our house. We and the GC hired a lawyer to issue a demand letter that the lien be released, and it was. We agreed to arbitration through the contractors board and had a rather unpleasant meeting with all parties on site. The arbitrator ruled against the finish carpenter and all turned out well. A bunch of BS really, all caused by a guy who couldn't do the job on schedule and then got pissed off when he was pressured to finish. ....

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denwood
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 542 Quarryville PA
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2005-09-02          115847


I am just finishing up schooling to get my real estate license. In PA where I am, a contractor can put a lien on you but if you have a mortgage, the contractor cannot force forclosure. If he doesn't do anything for 2 years, which he cannot with a mortgage, it is void. I asked a contractor friend about it and he said it has and is happening to him now. Nothing he can do about it unless the guy sells or the bank forcloses. Another intersting item is that it is possible to record several notices, with different stipulations that only the general cont. may place liens, or that no one may place a lien on your property if a tennant orders the improvement. It must be posted after it is recorded and you may get protest from any contractor about to do work for you, but it can be done. I am going to do it as we are letting my inlaws build a house on our property and I darn sure don't want any problems with looser contractors. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2005-09-04          115928


In Michigan, for him to put a lien on the property he would generally have to have a written contract---but not always-- with you or the general contractor. If you refused to pay he could then take you to court. If he won a judgement against you, then he can file a lien but not until then. I have done work for local builders who told me they won't pay me---simple as that. Talked to a few lawyers and they told me I could file what is called a "clouded title" against all 66 parcels of his so that when someone wanted to buy it they would find that money was owed to me and therefore couldn't or wouldn't want it until I was paid off. Long story short: Builder paid me in full.

Also in Mi it is law that you have a Waiver of Lien which is up to the homeowner to get when the contractor gets every payment draw. This is certified by contractor that he has paid all workers and suppliers. Without it if a subcontractor or supplier can prove he worked or provided materials and wasn't paid, he can go after you since it is up to you to know who worked on your site or priovided materials. I know owners of lumber yards and concrete suppliers who regularly have to lien a customer's home when a contractor doesn't pay them. But it rest with the homeowner to get a Wavier of Lien. Without it you are a sitting duck. ....

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funchy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 128 north eastern corner of Maryland
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2005-09-04          115930


Some contractors just do this. They don't care because they know you can't easily hire a new contractor when they leave your home in pieces and they have your deposit money. And then they'll insist the new fees are "industry standard".

If you refuse to pay this bill, is the work sufficiently done that it won't keep you from using your home? If that's the case, I'd tell him I'm not paying since it wasn't in the original contract. Let him threaten to sue... it's his problem then, not yours.

Either way he can't order a sub to do work above and beyond his contract, then just have the bill sent to your house. He's acting as general contractor so that fee should've been somewhere in his quote (or clearly stated otherwise in writing).

You can try reporting him to the state liscensing dept, BBB, and state consumer protection division (usually part of state Attorney General's office).

Best of luck to you! ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2005-09-18          116597


Ok well it looks like the sub is going to charge me $1750 + $56 late fee (I recieved the bill 30 days late btw) and I have 10 days to pay or he is putting a lien on my place. He did about 5 hours of work. I talked to him and he told me that the contractor had him out a time or two and wasnt ready for him and he charges full rate for that ($65 hour (twice local rate)). He also charges full rate for travel time. I guess he lives about 2 hours away. I told him I would pay a fair amount but not $1750. I guess all that I can do is contact a lawyer on Monday. I just hate to be screwed like this.

BC ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2005-09-18          116607


You can see a lawyer, but it might be more productive to call your state's governing body who regulates his licensure. So ask him for his license and make a complaint, and if he won't comply make a complaint anyway---that will get him off your back. Also find out through court records if he has a habit of doing this to other people and bring that as evidence. He can't just say "I'll put a lien on your property" (though like I said before in my state he can cloud the title)---he has to get a judgement from a court---in which he will have to show a contract with you that was breached---otherwise, it's just hearsay. It may turn out you will have to sue the original contractor or both. It is not your problem the other guy took too long---how do you know that they don't do this all the time? It would amount to extortion. I'm a contractor and I can't tell you how many times my schedule is held up because of somebody else. Good luck, but don't give up. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2005-09-19          116625


As crazy as it sounds I learned today that anybody can just go down to the county courthouse and register a lien against property in Montana. They record it and file it and its up to me to fight it. The county clerk said it doesnt seem fair but thats the way it is. She recommended that I hire an attorney. Ill try the contractors board, and BBB next.

Thanks,
BC ....

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2005-09-19          116630


Maybe I'm throwing judgement around unnecessarily, but it does sound a lot like extortion on his part.

If I lived 2 hours away, I'd call first to see if they were ready for me yet. That way I save the drive, the expense and I can do a local job if they aren't ready for me. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2005-09-19          116650


EXACTLY! It's not the homeowner's fault he showed up--he should have been in contact with the general to begin with. Tell the general to pay for that. ....

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MacDaddy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 95 Western NY
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2005-09-21          116725


The GC is responsible for paying any subs unless otherwise stated in your contract. The sub should submit his invoice to the GC. The GC can then try and collect from you... but I would not pay anyone that I did not hire. My guess is that they are just fishing to see if you'll pay. ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2005-09-21          116727


When my FIL built his house a subcontractor told him he wasn't paid by the GC. My FIL whipped out his wallet and paid him. When my FIL went to pay the GC for the whole job he expected to get the money he paid the subcontractor back but couldn't. I don't know what went wrong in that case - but it makes the point - you never pay the subcontractor. ....

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Deereman
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 18 Kansas
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2005-12-16          121203


BC,

Sorry to hear about your contractor trouble. How sad, we have to put up with this "Extortion", that's exactly what I consider it also. We have the same problem here in the midwest, I supose it's an epidemic through out the country. Every contractor wants a new deisel truck out of the deal. I'm hoping we slide into a ression and have a housing downturn, that way they will work for "Honest" wages.......or go hungry! (I'm building in the spring, and am going to play general)

Good luck :) ....

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grinder
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 677 central Maine
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2005-12-17          121209


Deereman
It may be an epidemic, but not all of us are infected.
Get some references for pete's sake. The last three jobs
by date is the best way. As opposed to the guy picking the good one's.
Being your own general can have it's own set of problems.
Unless you know a plumber,elec,insulater,sheetrocker,carpenters,etc,etc,that can all work together well and drop everything and run to your job to finish or fix something in the drop of a hat?
I do this everyday, the guy's have to look out for each other or your going to hear"he wanted to be the general" a lot, as they are walking off the job to that new diesel pick-up. Hard to find someone to finish someone else's work.
Can't you find a man who takes pride in his work? The cheapest price is never the best price! ....

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Oliver
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 210 Massachusetts
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2005-12-17          121210


I moved into my new house a few weeks ago. The contractor who built it was great -- he listened well, had employees and subs who worked hard, and kept things moving along nicely.

There are lots of good, honest people out there. Unfortunately, there are also lots who aren't. Spending time up front to find, hire, and most importantly, build a good working relationship with will be time and energy well spent.

Just my two cents, which I'm sure is common enough sense that everyione knows it... ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2005-12-17          121212


The GC we hired to build our house was great. We ended up good friends afterwards. He definitely looked out for us every step of the way. ....

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bcripe
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 22 Montana
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2005-12-17          121215


Hey guys, I ended up paying the plumber half his bill which he took without complaint. Found a new contractor that came highly recommended and have been doing OK since. I dont care who the contractor is though, you have to sit on the job or mistakes will be made.

Thanks,
BC ....

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Deereman
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 18 Kansas
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2005-12-17          121226


Grinder,

I'm a union electrician, I work for a honest wage, and get paid by the hour.

"Get some references for pet sake"........I should say so, I work with hundreds of they every day!

"Can't you find a man who takes pride in his work?".....Why yes I can, I know a handful. If you were in the building trades about 40 years ago, you could say that just about everyone took pride. You can't say that today.

"The cheapest price is not always the best price!"......You don't say.....well, I never did.

I don't want to turn this into bashing, my point was an "Honest" wage. I don't mind paying a plumber $30 an hour, or a framer $25. What I do mind is paying a plumber $8000 dollars....he's done in a day and a half, with about $1000 worth of materials, end's up taking $7000. Or a roofer who charges $7,500, with about $1500 in materials, gets done in a day and after paying his spanish speeking workers, pockets $5,500.

If he walks off the job....he don't get paid.

Grinder...Nice carpentry on that lodge of yours :) No hard feelings!

Glad to see you found a good one BC! ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
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2005-12-17          121228


Grinder, your comment about the "cheapest price may not be the best price" makes me laugh at my own experiences. My wife always insists on getting 3 estimates for a job. Usually we end up going with the HIGHEST price because we trust the person with the highest price the most. I feel like I am one of the 3 stooges bidding the price up higher than the original quote!

....

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grinder
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 677 central Maine
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2005-12-18          121245


ncrunch32
I have a friend who has been in the remodel biz for 30+
yrs and I consider him to be the master builder.
He say's "any time you get an estimate you get a sh%^ty
job".
Think about it, where is the incentive to do a good job?
The incentive, (if the guy is greedy) is to do it fast.
Fast or good, you can't have both. ....

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brokenarrow
Join Date: Jan 2004
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2006-02-24          125088


My old neighbor built a home a year after we moved away. 4 years later he was still in court with his GC and about 6 buisnesses the GC had hired to do the jobs. My old neighbor had PAID his GC the final payment BEFORE he got a list of ALL the subs and such. (BTW) The neighbor is a assitant district attorny for the town of 98K that I used to live in) He said he is losing his ass, He will be sueing the GC BUT HE (my old neighbor)is responsible for paying the bills. He had his old GC in court for 2 years and wound up getting nothing! The guy had nothing left to take?
I got a call from a distibuter of septic tanks. He told me that the bill for MY tank was not paid by my plumber friend who installed my septic/holding tank. It was a 1200 dollar bill. I told him that I am sure my plumber would pay even though he was 3 months late! I proceeded to call my buddy and ask WHAT IS UP? He was as emabarresed as could be for not paying the bill. He sent out payment the next week. I followed up to make sure. This is where I could of been stuck with a BILL like yours. The person who sold the tanl to my friend informed me that IF he did not get paid in 2 weeks he would file a lein on MY house. Guess what? He would of been able to do it and I am the only person responsible for that payment.
I can go after my plumber for recovery of money I already spent (gave to him) BUT the retailer of the tank does not have to worry about that because I am the BUYER of his equipment and the plumber is only representing me.

This is why (one of the reasons) we have several draws on a project. The final payment should NEVER be made till you have all the bills and reciepts for ALL the things in your place. If you see something that is not on a bill marked PAID do not pay the final payment till its cleared up.
I agree whole heartedly, being on the job site everyday is paramont.

BTW
My plumber buddy? Yes he is still a friend. BUT, I find out later that he has a habit of robbing Peter to pay Paul and is late (extremely) late on many of his bills. SO late that I fear sooner or later he will end up down on his luck and end up running with alot of unpaid bills. Needless to say I will stay friends with him BUT I will not hire him to do anymore plumbing/septic tank work for me especially when I have my new house built.
good luck ....

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steve4300
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 71 NH
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2006-03-04          125565


Sorry for all your proplems, There are to many contractors out there that are fly by nights. I pride myself on repeat custermers, I personally feel that it is easier to keep your exsisting paying custermer than finding new ones. I even have custermers that I go back to that if the GC went there he would be shot. Have I been taken yes at my own house I hired an excavator for the septic , paid him in full ,he did about 3/4 of the job and I had to fire him and pay onther guy 1000 to finish with only a week left on my construction load. The first guy thretend to put a lien on the house if I didnt pay for extras witch included a seacond waste tank because he broke the first. I had to pay him because the bank wouldn't tranfer me to an long term low interest loan without a lien free waiver. After all this I have learned have written contract for both my buesness and my house ....

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