Posted by Bill on July 20, 2003 at 16:35:19:
Only your lawyer can tell you for sure. You might give him a call.
Whatever the outcome of this, in the future, it might be to your advantage to have your lawyer prepare a contract for you that you can use with any construction crews. I have seen poor contracts between owners and “contractors” cause many expensive problems. The boiler plate “contracts” that most small time “contractors” get from office supply stores are woefully inadequate to address the details that always arise.
At the very least, you need clauses that address what happens if contractor fails to finish the job, what happens if contractor fails to follow codes, leaves underlying problems unresolved or fails to notify you if there are additional problems. These are exactly the type of problems you now are facing. A good contract would address these and provide remedies.
That said, if you make promises, you should keep them, but I would call the workers to account for any problems they should have notified you of and see what sort of negotiated settlement you can work out. It’s only logical that a normal worker should know what’s right and what’s not right in their own trade. I would also have the lawyer send the contractor a strong letter outlining the problems, and demanding a fix at his expense. The money due his workers is HIS responsibility, although they may attempt to lein you. That is why there are lein releases. If you do pay them, GET AN UNCONDITIONAL LIEN RELEASE FROM EACH ONE OF THEM WHEN YOU PAY. Also, only pay them from the total due and don’t pay them for work done incorrectly. (See your lawyer regarding this!) Few things infuriate me more than someone who sees something wrong, knows it’s wrong and then goes ahead anyway. You only have to rip it all out and fix the problem. I fire them on the spot when I see this behavior, for it will carry into every aspect of what they do and reflects not only on their character, but what they think of you. It is also , most definitely addressed in any contract I do.
Bottom line, paying a lawyer a couple hundred to provide protection for you in these situations in advance is WAY cheaper than redoing the work and paying twice. The contractor is responsible and should make this good. I’d file a claim against his liability insurance policy for doing it wrong.You should have his policy on file since he should have had his agent send it to you PRIOR to his starting work. It will have his company, policy number and agent on the paperwork.
Good luck to you,