Thursday, August 03, 2006

What to do When the Contractor has been Paid in Full

Someone recently googled the keywords listed in the title, alerting me to the fact that when one has lost the leverage of the final payment, the homeowner is frequently at wit's end. Many homeowners end up kicking themselves when a contractor abandons a job, or ignores the final punchlist once payment has been made. What is a homeowner to do?

First of all, understand that you are not alone. Many bright, intelligent people make the final payment for a variety of reasons.

Two, make a game plan. If there is work that still needs to be done, or punchlist items that have been ignored, send the contractor a demand letter outlining the work and proposing a schedule for completion. Tell him or her that s/he has x days to respond with a reasonable proposal (offer of settlement), or you will take further action.

In Massachusetts, under the Consumer Protection Act, one is required to write a 30-day demand letter in order to pursue a claim that may ultimately pay double or treble damages, attorney's fees, interest and costs.

If the contractor responds, then write up an agreement that will build in consequences if he fails to follow through.

If the contractor does not answer, request the help of the building inspector, office of consumer affairs for your state, Better Business Bureau, or the agency that regulates contractors.

If all else fails, you may enlist the help of an attorney. Taking action will remove that feeling of helplessness and hopefully move the project forward to a successful result.


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At 7:39 PM, Blogger GG Connecticut Homeowner said...

I have had this very situation with so many contractors who refuse to acknowledge responsibility for any shoddy workmanship or even little things that are left to be repaired.
I was one of those homeowners that always thought that if I only paid timely and was a 'good consumer' then the contractor would respond positively to this good will gesture.
Wrong. Every contractor that I have ever encountered will, at every chance, take advantage of your naive nature or any weakness that they can detect.
Only recently have I been referred to quality people. But it is truly ONE IN A MILLION contractors who actually care about the homeowner client.
Most of them want to rob you of as much as possible for the least amount of work possible.
It is a 'wild west' frontier that the local and federal governments need to WAKE UP to immediately.

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that was probably me about the google and the builder being pd in full....Thanks for responding.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Sandy said...

I have a situation with my remodel contractor. I purchased items on my own that were 'allowances' in my contract, like appliances. When I wanted to deduct these items from a payment, the contractor insisted I had to pay according to the contract and that we would settle up on the final payment. Now he has cancer, can't work, and has abandoned my job. He hasn't paid the subs and one has sent notice of intent to lien. With the allowances I am out-of-pocket on and the incomplete work, the contractor owes me more money than what the final payment would have been. I need that money to pay someone else to finish up. What recourse do I have?

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At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife paid a contractor in full now he won't come back he left some tools behind air compressor, miter saw and saw horses. when can I claim them?

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