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Question DetailsAsked on 11/27/2017

I bought a house and paid a contractor 3600 and started working then he breaks the contract

I live in texas and the problem is that he started working on the house also I forgot to mention the house has asbestos to the contractor so now he refuses to pay me my deposit back is there anything the police can do
Even though he started to do work on my property

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3 Answers

0
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Two bad pieces of news for you - first you live in Texas which is basically the wild west as far as contractor licensing and controls, and second he started work so police cannot be expected to do anything, as opposed to say if he took the deposit and then skipped town without doing any work


You are now in a civil contract dispute, not a criminal situation - and the terms of any contract you signed (which might be pre-printed on the back of a quote form you signed to start the work, might be a formal contract, or perhaps you do not have a written contract at all) would generally control when and how you get any deposit back, how contract disputes or change orders are handled, etc.


What you do not say is WHY he stopped work (or why you told him to stop) - because that would define who violated the contract - or maybe there is no actual beach at all. For instance, if the scope of work presumed no asbestos and then he ran into it when it would not normally be expected, then that would be time for a Change Order to modify the contract scope and price to handle the asbestos - be it by him getting a specialty asbestos removal contractor on the job or him suspending work till you got one in to get the asbestos removed so he could resume his work.


Generally speaking, on the deposit issue, at this point if you do not resolve the issue and negotiate for him to complete the job, with price adjustment for any additions to the scope of work (for asbestos or whatever), he would be entitled to fair compensation (including overhead and profit margins) for the work he "productively" accomplished - which would normally be defined as work which moved the job ahead, be it complete or incomplete, as long as it was not substandard so has to be redone to be acceptable. Of course, in a court case or arbitration, how much of the work stoppage is "his fault" or "your fault" / unexpected change of conditions would influence how liberal the compensation for his time would be, or in extreme cases of failure on his part, whether he gets anything at all out of it.


Not knowing the exact cause of the work stoppage keeps me from giving any specific recommendation, other than that unless you no longer trust the guy to be able to do the job properly or think he is ripping you off, it is almost always far cheaper to negotiate a change order to complete the job than to terminate the contract, try to get some depsoit back (likely not much if he did a few days work against a $3600 deposit), and get another contractor on board (generally at higher cost to complete someone's else's unfinished job) to finish the job.


If the reason for the halt was hitting asbestos, unless he had good cause to expect it at the time he bid the job, then there are two choices you have to negotiate to one of - terminate the contract and handle the issue otherwise, or negotiate a change order for the problem to be taken care of so he can continue his work as originally planned. Hitting that sort of unexpected condition (assuming it would not normally have been expected by a normal contractor of his type) would be a change of conditions. Whether or not it would be considered a fundamental enough change to make the contract unilaterally cancellable by either party would be a legal question to be decided by a judge or arbitrator - probably not because it is readily resolveable through a change order and specialty asbestos removal contractor.


On the refund - if HE terminates the contract he would generally be entitled to at most fair compensation for the work he successfully accomplished, you would be entitled to any termination compensation spelled out for that caseand possibly for the costs of starting the bidding/contracting cost over again, and you would be entitled to the deposit. If he terminated in bad faith (not attempting to complete the contracted scope of work), he might get nothing and you might be eligible for compensation for the added cost of getting another contractor on board to finish the job.


If YOU terminate it, generally if there was a fundamental change of conditions preventing fulfillment of the contract (which hitting asbestos might or might not qualify as, but I would say generally not UNLESS it made the job financially impossible for you to pay for) then normally he would be able to keep the portion of the deposit which the contract spells out in event of default by you, as long as it is not so excessive as to constitute "unjust enrichment" to him. If you had good cause to terminate - for instance poor performance or failure to perform on his part, then he would not be entitled to the deposit - only at most for fair compensation for adequately performed work.


If you want, you can use the Answer This Question yellow button, right below your question, to reply back with more details on WHAT went south with the job, why you say HE broke the contract, and whether he is willing to continue with a change order to handle that issue, then I will try to give you some advice based on those specifics.


Here are links to a couple of similar previous questions with answers FYI:


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http://answers.angieslist.com/How-con...


http://answers.angieslist.com/We-trou...


http://answers.angieslist.com/I-hired...

Answered 11 months ago by LCD

0
Votes

Also he only tore the sheetrock off of one wall so he really didnt do much but that's it then he found out the house has asbestos and told me that he will not refund me my deposit so he told me that he is willing to do the demo of the bathroom and the kitchen and float the bedroom walls with mud then paint the outside and he will be done working for me

So we agreed via text then I changed my mind like 5 time over the matter so I decided I want to take him to court so would I be in the wrong just as much as him for breaking out verbal agreement


Answered 11 months ago by TrevorOutlaw

0
Votes

Few thoughts here based on your reply, which might help - but jumping to suing, even if you did it in small claims court and represented yourself (remember the saying about a personal represednting himself has a fool for a client), is not likely to get you anything good in the long run and may well cause him to file a lien against the property.


I don't see anything which would require a written contract here, so maybe - would come down to who said what and so forth.


I can't see suing him is going to help anything - have you discussed HOW the asbestos can be abated (many times with over-laying or sealing it in, without removal at all - though that does make it a disclosure item when you go to sell the place) - then he gets on with the original work and all is good because the deposit will be used up in work done.


Or even use up the deposit in work where there is no asbestos - at least the $3600 worth ?


You still did not say how the asbestos was discovered - has it been tested to prove it is actually actionable, because first there are a lot of products out there that look like but are not asbestos, and also some (including some current manufacture products) which still use asbestos, just not the short fiber types that cause respiratory system cancer. Sounds to me like a proper asbestos presence testing and abatement estimate is in order, from an asbestos specialty company. That would tell you if it is asbestos or not, also they can give alternatives to removal - as long as it does not get dusted up asbestos is harmless, and is very commonly just covered over with new flooring or siding or such. In fact, for things like siding, there is nothing wrong with leaving it in place exposed (with an asbestos sealing paint over it).


Once you know where it is, you can decide on overlay, removal, or leaving that part of the job out of the scope and rescoping to do the parts you can do without asbestos risks or the cost of asbestos removal (assuming it is not current dusting, like worn asbestos flooring which walking on would kick up fibers from).


One other option other than suing - though they will not do the asbestos work for the original agreed-on price if not in the original scope - if he quit the job OTHER than for discovering asbestos, and maybe even getting a refund if so, is calling his bond (or even just threatening to) - he (or they if you call the bond) might well give you the deposit refund minus minimal $ for the little work he did.


One other possibility - since you say he pulled one wall of drywall and claimed asbestos - is it possible this guy is a scammer who planned on doing just that and running off with your money ? If asbestos is NOT there, then the police would be interested in it as a fraud case. There are about $40-50 asbestos test kits (5-7 day mail-in turnaround) from box stores and paint stores and Amazon and such which, while not acceptable in court probably, would allow you to see if what he claimed as asbestos-containing really is. That might give you leverage with him - though a professional field collection and lab testing typically runs more like $150-250 for one sample, and $250-500 for a whole-house inspection for ACM (asbestos containing materials).

Answered 11 months ago by LCD




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