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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 118708
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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I dont know if Im in the right category but I am fighting

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I don't know if I'm in the right category but I am fighting with a contractor and he's threatening to put a "Mechanical Lein" against my house. Here's the story: he replaced the siding on my house. He demanded the last payment, which was $1320 on his last day. I gave him $520, which was the rest of the contract, the remaining $800 are for incidentals. I am withholding the $800 because of two things. First, he hasn't even offered to go over a punch list of items with me because there are a few places that he just completely missed, with paint or caulking. Secondly, he used interior semi-gloss on my exterior trim! Now, he is telling me he will repaint my trim but before he does, he's demanding the $800 up front. If he doesn't get it by next Friday, he's going to put a "Mechanical Lein" on my house. What should I do? He's pretty pissed off and I have been trying to keep this on a mature level but he's already told another contractor (gutter guy) that I'm a non-paying customer and that guy has pulled out. Do I have any place to report him? Are punch lists required or just a formality that *nice* contractors offer their customers? I still don't think the job is done and he's already threatening me. I asked one contractor about it and he said "Don't pay" but I don't want my name dragged through the mud because of this unreasonable jerk.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

If he has not properly performed the job you have some options. First, you can send him a letter informing him that he is in breach of contract for failure to complete the job and for using the wrong materials (paint) and that you will not pay any further money until he completes the contract. You would tell him in the letter that you also demand an itemized bill showing where the extra $800 is coming from. Also, you tell him if he places a lien you will sue him for placing an invalid lien based on his breach of the contract. End the letter telling him that if he provides an itemized bill and he completes the job properly and fixes his mistakes, then you will pay and you are not refusing to pay.

Second you can file a complaint with the contractor's board against him for the failure to properly complete his work.

Third, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General's consumer protection unit and also the Better Business Bureau, usually they can mediate resolution of these issues. If they cannot then you have to move to the final step.

Finally, you can go to small claims court and file suit against him for breach of contract and seek payment for having to have someone come fix his work. If he places the lien in the meantime, when you sue for breach of contract you ask also for damages for him placing an improper lien.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks. Let me think about these options. My mind is in 100 directions right now. If I have any more questions, I'll let you know later today after I do my 9-5, which I can now focus on since I know I have options. I'll be in touch!
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your response.

We are here all the time. If I happen to be off or working with other customers I will get to you as soon as possible.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Oh, I guess I have a question about the punch list still. He won't even talk to me about a punchlist. Is that just simply "the job being 100% done", falling under the contract or is a "punch list" completely optional for him to honor?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your response.

No, if the punch list is not completed and there are still things to be finished, the job is not done. You can negotiate to give him half of the money now and tell him when he finished the punch list you will give him the remainder, but if he refuses to complete the punch list, that is breach of contract.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
He's demanding payment before he repaints, which means if I pay him, I lose the upper hand. We might be going to court. What are the best documents and preparations I can take and do beforehand?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
You need to inform him that you will agree to 1/2 before he paints and nothing more and then the remainder when he finishes. If you choose you can pay him in full and then sue him in small claims after for breach of contract, that is your other option. Also, you can just simply sue him for breach of contract and not pay him anything and not let him come and paint and let the court decide and get an estimate as to how much it will cost for someone else to come paint and finish any work he did not do or did not do right and that would be your damages in small claims court.

These are your options.
Law Educator, Esq. and 3 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you, sir!