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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 116817
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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I am a contractor who red a new sub to do a job on an

Customer Question

I am a contractor who hired a new sub to do a job on an exterior repair. The total bid for the job was $10,000 for woodwork, and $3000 for gutters. We expected to job to be complete within 1 week, it took 2 weeks due to a couple days of rain. We had just installed flashing and we're all set to paint when the homeowner expressed concerns with the size of boards used- we used 6" (which is what was on originally) and 4" flashing (also original). The homeowner has paid a deposit of $3000. I have spent $7000 in materials and labor toward the woodwork and owe the gutter sub a small fee for removal of the old gutters. We have not installed the new ones. The homeowner was not happy with the woodwork and had a "friend" who is also a GC come out to look at the woodwork. The friend said the work was done very well but noticed the nails used were not finishing nails and would be expected to rust. I acknowledged to mistake, as did my sub, and we would of course re-do the work but the homeowner understandably no longer trusts us. He sent me the bid from his "friend" that is for $31,000 and has considerably additional work never reflected in my estimate, specifying materials contradictory to what 3 other subs I had bid this work recommended, (he suggests 8" boards and keeping the 4" flashing) in addition he has $5000 in gutters to my original bid of $3k. I had my usual exterior sub ( who was not available to do this job in the timeframe demanded by this homeowner) come and inspect. He agreed with the materials I used for the job and showed the homeowner why, in addition he also commended the woodwork but I was clearly in hot water with the nails as they are not the right nails for the job.
The homeowner and myself have talked about his expectations and he is wanting me to reimburse his $3000' in addition to paying him in full the $13,000 of the total contract price - when I add in the $7000 I have spent less the $3000 deposit, I am in this for $20,000! I have asked the homeowner if he realizes what he is asking of me and he has informed me that he has no problem slapping me with a lawsuit and this is my responsibility as a contractor. He said I could pay him $8k this month and $8k the next. I have even offered to just pay someone to remove all of our woodwork for his new contractor so he has a clean slate ( where we originally had to cut all of the soffit and facia carefully without damaging the existing stucco). He does not want this and is fully expecting me to pay him. Thus just does not seem right, but I don't want to sully my hard earned reputation or lose even more money on legal fees. I have no problem reimbursing his $3000 deposit, and either demoing our work or even compensating him $2-3k for his trouble, but this seems a bit outrageous! Can he do this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year 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.

You are NOT LIABLE TO PAY HIM for work not specified in your contract and for materials not specified in your contract, he is seeking to scam you. Yes, you are liable for replacing the nails, but otherwise you are liable for only completing the job as specified in the contract. You need to send him a letter explaining what was in your contract and that he is now submitting a claim for items not in your contract and for which you are not liable. Tell him he is in breach of the contract for failure to allow you to cure the nail issue and as such you will pursue legal action against him. Also send him a lien notice letter at this point as well and put a contractor's lien on the home.

This guy would not win this type of claim asking for 3 times more work than was originally bid and trying to make you pay for more work than contracted. So let him huff and puff, because a judge would not go for this type of claim.