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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 110577
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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We have had an room addition carried out to our property. Our

Customer Question

We have had an room addition carried out to our property. Our contractor has just issued us with an final invoice for work which we understood to be included in the original estimate. He is threatening us with a lien over our homestead property, Our contract comprises an invoice from him which we accepted by email . We did not officially sign a contract.Can he get a lien over our property?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
What does the invoice that you initially accepted state regarding what is included in that job? Did your original accepted invoice state that these things he is now billing you for on the new invoice were to be included?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
No it did not. We assumed that the sheetrock which he is now billing us for was included, He itemised trim and baseboard and painting the walls. We just thought it was included. He did not itemize windows either but he has not charged us an additional invoice for them.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Basically the invoice covered a lot of materials but not everything. We asked him to quote for the room addition we just thought sheetrock was an integral part of that.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
I am afraid that your assumption of what was or was not included would not be sufficient to win a case in court. In any construction case, if a customer does not pay, the contractor can place a lien, but they have to then sue in court to prove the amount of money due. So before this gets that far, you need to sit with the contractor and negotiate the final invoice, because legally if he proves that he is owed for the work and if he shows that this was not in the original invoice, you would not be able to defeat him in court.
This is why when people sign these contracts they need to make sure that they are as specific as possible regarding what the invoice price includes and what is not included in the price. He has a right to collect only what he can prove he spent over and above the initial invoice you approved. So ask for his proof and then seek to negotiate the prices because if he goes to court to satisfy the lien, he would be very likely to win if these items were not specified in the original invoice.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
yes we trusted the contractor to give us a proper estimate clearly he did not. what about the homestead property I thought that he needs a signed contract before he proceeds with getting a lien and give us notice ?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
He can place the lien still because you have the electronic agreements between the parties. Even though it is homestead property, since he did the work on that property, that is what gives him the lien rights.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
yes but i thought texas law says there needs to be signed contract by both spouses and that the contractor has to give notice that he reserves the right to exercise a lien when entering into the contract
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If this is in Texas (which you just stated for first time), the to place a lien on a homestead, the person who is to furnish labor and/or material and the owner must execute a written contract setting forth the terms of their agreement. There are multiple requirements for this executed contract, however: 1) The contract must be executed before any labor or material is furnished; 2) If the owner is married, the contract must be signed by both spouses; 3) The contract must be filed with the county clerk of the county in which the homestead is located.
So, because you are in Texas and this is on your homestead, the contractor would have to sue you and could not place the lien.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
ok so would the invoice with my husbands e mail stating to go ahead with the work constitute a signed contract
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
The email would be considered a "contract" but not a SIGNED one. There is another legal principle here that does not allow you to escape without paying something and that is called "quantum meruit" meaning pay for the work done. So while you may dispute the amount of the new invoice, if they prove the work was done and that was the reasonable cost over the initial invoice, the court can still make you pay even if they may not be able to put a lien on the homestead

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