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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a pretty patient person, but the general contractor I hired to finish my basement has exhausted it completely.


A little background:


I contracted with the GC to finish the basement on March 23rd. Construction commenced on April 6th and was supposed to be finished by June 15th. There were two change orders which pushed that back 9 days to June 30th. The construction proceeded in fits and starts. It was slower than I had hoped but I understand that these things rarely go according to plan. The problem I have is that the GC has literally stopped communicating with me. He won't return my repeated phone calls or emails and for all intents and purposes, I'm assuming he has no intention of finishing the project.


Areas completed to date include framing, rough plumbing/electrical, drywall, tile. After not hearing from the GC, I was forced to hire someone to get the trim done and hang the doors. I'm also bringing in someone to paint and HD is now installing the carpet.


There are essentially 4 items that need to be done
  • Egress windown in the bedroom
  • HVAC vents in the bedroom and theater area have been drywalled over and need to be done right,
  • a half door is being put under the stairwell so I can access all the wiring,
  • and the steam shower needs to be completed


Fortunately, I've only paid for work completed so I'm not out money at this point. However, getting things finished is in all likelihood going to cost more than it would have per the contract I signed with him.


What are my options? Is there legal recourse or would I be wasting my time?
 

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You need to be in a lawyers office tomorrow as this can get very sticky. You may think that you have paid for work competed the GC will claim otherwise, You will claim he abandoned the job he will claim there were delays and demand completion and payment on the contract.

He may be in a position to place a lien on your property and in our state If it isn't satisfied in 12 months he can initiate foreclosure proceedings to take possession of the house as a step toward resolution of the debt.


I wouldn't follow any advice given here other than see your lawyer or a least find a lawyer and pay for a one hour consult.


IMHO I wouldn't worry about recourse I would worry about getting a release from your original contract.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Big. I guess at least talking to a lawyer makes sense. In fact, I'd love it if the GC would just finish the job. I've said as much to him in email (to have a written correspondence record), and he has said that he wants to wrap it up. Then I don't hear a thing from him for three weeks. It really is totally bizarre.


Fortunately, the contract includes a provision that states the GC owes me $50 for every day he goes past the completion date. That amount is currently about $1000, not that I expect to see any of it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewguy11 /forum/post/16919455


Fortunately, the contract includes a provision that states the GC owes me $50 for every day he goes past the completion date. That amount is currently about $1000, not that I expect to see any of it.


it is likely this clause that has caused him to "dissappear".



definately contact a lawyer.



are there provisions in the contract to cancel the job?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Mike_P /forum/post/16919773


it is likely this clause that has caused him to "dissappear".



definately contact a lawyer.



are there provisions in the contract to cancel the job?

This is probably a correct assumption. I used to work for a remodeling company. I agree that you should contact a lawyer. This guy is probably a sleezeball and will show up months down the road claiming he was never paid for a completed job.


Cover your A%$!


I have never heard of a contractor paying the consignee for everyday over the estimate. That happens all the time its just the nature of construction. He has most likely moved onto easier jobs where he can have a quick turn around.


You may want to review this contractor online so that other can see that he is not worth hiring. I would wait to that until any legal issues are resolved though.
 

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The first thing you should worry about is whether the general contractor paid his subs. Hopefully you got a lein release from him for the work you paid for so far. If not, depending on your state laws you might be legally responsible for paying the subs.


Now, overall, I agree the guy is likely scared of the penalty. I would suggest you telling him that if he will agree to come back now and finish the work in a timely manner (get the number of days in writing of course) you will agree to waive any late fees or drastically reduce them. Again if you have not, make sure you get a lein release for any more work that is done


As you say starting over will be much more expensive and you have not even considered the pain in the rear that getting all new permits and inspections will be with the work in mid progress.
 

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Quote:
Now, overall, I agree the guy is likely scared of the penalty. I would suggest you telling him that if he will agree to come back now and finish the work in a timely manner (get the number of days in writing of course) you will agree to waive any late fees or drastically reduce them. Again if you have not, make sure you get a lein release for any more work that is done

You might also threaten to lodge a complaint with your state's contractors licensing board if he doesn't respond and finish. And then do it to cover your as# if he still doesn't respond.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by michanecash /forum/post/16919859


I have never heard of a contractor paying the consignee for everyday over the estimate. That happens all the time its just the nature of construction. He has most likely moved onto easier jobs where he can have a quick turn around.

We have this in all of our contracts, though these are large construction projects. It's called liquidated damages. Many times there are clauses in there how time may be extended- per a change order as what happened with the OP, weather delays, acts of God, etc.


CJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
There is language in the contract about weather, change orders, etc. but outside of the two change orders, there is no good reason for the delay. My hunch is that he way underbid the job, can't find subs who'll meet his price point, fell behind schedule and now decided to disappear.


He's had some personal family issues (divorce, custody of his son) which probably didn't help either. The thing that pisses me off more than anything is that he won't talk to me. I've repeatedly told him via email that all I'm looking for is communication and we can work out the deadlines. To Lee's point, I have no idea about a lien release so I'll have to look into that.
 

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With that additional input I'd be worrying that he may not have paid for the some of the supplies, labor or subs and that the need to get a lawyer involved to help straighten this out and minimize your exposure just increased.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiskey > work /forum/post/16922598


invite him over for a beer, then fight him

Hey, if the beer thing can work for the President, then it can work for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I talked to a lawyer and drafted a registered letter for the GC with the demand that he make progress on the remaining items. I don't expect anything will come of that, but hopefully it will at least establishe a paper trail.


The whole lien release issue has me quite worried at this point, but I only have contact info for the electrical sub-contractor, and have no way of contacting the others. I had no idea that the subs could come after me for payment even if I paid the GC. I'm pissed at myself for not doing more research into that. Hopefully I'll know more on Monday when the electrician is going to give me a buzz.


To top it off, I found out that the BBB revoked this guys status in July 2009 for failure to respond to 2 complaints. I also looked into complaining to the state licensing board and found out that general contractors aren't required to have a license. What a cluster.


I've certainly learned a valuable lesson and, trying to look on the brightside, at least this happened with only a basement finish instead of something much larger.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewguy11 /forum/post/16927609


I also looked into complaining to the state licensing board and found out that general contractors aren't required to have a license.

??? Seriously??? In what state do you live?


CJ
 

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+1 what big says.


I have been very fortunate regarding my work that I have contracted out, however the companies I did not know I did research and the others I have had previous contact with or have come very highly recommended by friends or family. I hope it all works out for you as this is obviously a very frustrating situation for you. Best of luck and keep us all posted.


Regards,


RTROSE
 

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+1 to Big's comment on Liens from supply houses and subcontractors. I remember a case up in MA when I lived there of a guy getting jobs/deposits and using his supply house as a reference in the bid process. A year later, work undone, the same people got liens on their property from the same supply house. This article isn't the one I remember but the facts scared the lights out of me at the time:

Quote:
Kane said Bartel took more than $300,000 in deposits from seven customers between 2002 and 2004, failed to complete work on their homes and caused them to receive liens from National Lumber Co. of Mansfield for bills he did not pay.

“Many of the victims, plagued by the loss of their deposits, anguished by Bartel’s deceptions and evasions, continue to confront civil cases prosecuted to enforce liens, which they must, of course, oppose through the expenditure of money and time,” Kane said.
http://www.tauntongazette.com/homepage/x1908586789
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJO /forum/post/16928155


??? Seriously??? In what state do you live?


CJ

Not sure which states do not require contractors licenses, there are a few I believe, but I know that NY is one that does not, though NYC has their own licensing program IIRC.


I case anyone ever runs across this again, let this be a warning from someone who has managed commercial prprojects for years. Contracts are mainly to be used when everything goes wrong. As long as everyone is trustworthy and nothing unforseen happens, you can do work all day long on a handshake. However, this happen. Sometiems customers can't end up paying, that is why liens were created in the first place. Sometimes a contractor has a bad job come up and instead of taking it and moving on, they try to get around it and it snowballs. Whatever.


Always make sure you get lien releases that include all materials suppliers and lower tier sub-contractors as part of any payment. Make sure you tell the contractor up front that no payment will be accepted without a conditional release of liens (this ties the release to the payment amount. That way, cancelled check and the release = accepted). Personally, I would not allow them to have the money and get the release to you later. Too easy to just forget or if someone is trying to screw you to not give it to you on purpose. Any decent contractor should have a form they have used and that will usualyl be fine. Most of hte time if you have a construction loan, they will require this anyway, so contractors should be aware of it even if you are funding from savings.


You might also want to have something about the contractors being responsible for obeying all applicable OSHA, state and local safety regulations while on you property. This might help if they are cited for something as OSHA can and will go after the owner if there is a chance they should have know there was a problem. This is more applicable to commercial owners, but it never hurts to make sure they know you want them to be safe.


Also, while I am at it, make sure that any contractors that set foot on your site have all their insurance up to date. Workers comp especially. You do not want to have an employee getting hurt and end up suing you for damages. Ideally you want to be listed as an additional insured on their policy for the duration of the project. Again, any decent contractor will be able to call their insurance broker and have them send you a certificate in 10 mintues. They may want to charge you a few extra bucks for additional insured riders (usually $150 or so) and that is not too unreasonable, but many will not charge this. Also, any decent contractor will always insist that all their subs will be giving this info to them anyway. You do not need the sub info per se, just make sure the GC is getting it, assuming that they are under contract to teh GC and not to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
After going through this, I realize that I didn't know how exposed I was going to be. I'm trying to make things right now, but if the GC won't respond to any communication, I don't know how I can go about getting lien releases. I'm still going to try, but I'm not too hopeful. Looks like the statute of limitations to file a lien is 2 months for some work and 4 months for others starting after the work is completed. I might just have to hold my breath if the f'ing GC won't get back to me.


FYI, I live in Colorado.
 
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