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Question DetailsAsked on 4/3/2014

Can I fire a GC from an insurance job due to workmanship, unreliability and money problems?

We had a pipe burst and had to have mitigation, rebuild and plumbing work done for our kitchen and basement. The plumbing has gone smoothly. The mitigation went smoothly as well but the contractor, who is the mitigation specialists father, has been nothing but problems. He is constantly riding me about needing more money. We have a mortgage so the insurance company has made all checks payable to both me and my mortgage company, who then set up an Loss Draft Distrubution account. They are only sending money as inspections are done and completion of work is verified yet every DAY I get a call about money. Everything his workmen have done has had to be done at least twice due to errors in measurements etc. The GC is ONLY here to inspect anything himself if I tell him I have money. Today he threatened a lien on my property over the mitigation bill not being paid. I have no control over how much or when money is sent. This job has been ongoing since February 12!

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12 Answers

Voted Best Answer
2
Votes

You have every right to fire the GC, but it may cost you money in legal fees to fight any leins he has on the property. If you do insurance work you should know that you have to do part of the work out of your own cash reserves and wait for disbursement from the insurance company. His crews errors are not your problem, they are his. If you have problems you should include your insurance company in the problems you are having. If he is running into problems with extras they should only be related to things the adjuster missed and not his or his crews incompetence. If upon rip out he finds hidden water damage that would be an example. An example was a flood job I did not too long ago where we found termite damage that could not be seen untill after demo. Since it was not related to the flood it was not covered. Unless this is his first insurance job he should know the procedures and not be expecting money before it is due, stick to your guns and make sure he is doing the right job. If not include your insurance company and possibly even your mortgage company in any problems. A lein is not that big a deal though in the long run as long as you pay off the agreed amount as per contract. Just make sure if you stay with this guy he has a lien release with him when you give him the finnal check!


Don

Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon

1
Vote

I am assuming that YOU have a contract with this gentlemans company. What does the contract say regarding Payments ? Since we don't have the contract to read and consult ,we are relying on you to tell US . It is not uncommon for a construction lien to be placed on a property especially during tough or arduos times like you are experiencing and once you have settled with the Contractor the lien MUST be released , so this NOT an uncommon experience .


Now , maybe I am just getting OLD , but I do not fully understand the ContractorFather and the SON aka the Mitigation Contractors Roles. Who exactly is in charge and who do you have a contract with ? Are you contracted to Both Parties ?

You may need to take your contract and have a visit with your attorney , and he may need to write letter or two in order to mitigate the circumstances and get the father off your back , but then again, It may all hinge on the specific contract that you have with these fellows . We need more information ? Can you provide IT ?


It is obvious that the Father may be footing the bill and expenses by putting His money out up front and he may be scared of loosing It . Again , I just dont Know , or his funds may be running out and he needs more money ,again , we are lacking knowledge of the operation at hand and at this point , all we can do is speculate !

Answered 5 years ago by BentheBuilder

1
Vote

Yes we have a contract with this gentlman. The contract we signed was little more than a papragraph agreeing to let him do the work. There is nothing there about payments being made one way or the other. As far as the father son arrangement. His son got into mitigation during a hurricane and according to paperwork I've sent the mortgage company has his own license and insurance. The father does the remodel/rebuild the son does the mitigation. As for involving the insurance company they consider any contracts we have with any companies just that between them and us. So I've gone that route. The mortgage company just keeps telling me the same thing I keep telling him. Money will be released as work is finished and inspected. He keeps on about how much he's spent. And me telling him that the mortgage company doesn't care how much he's spent just how much work is finished. I guess I am getting answers I knew I would get and appreciate the input.

Answered 5 years ago by jmsobetski

0
Votes

As another questioner said - arrrgh - another inadequate, indefinite contract without scope of work, schedule, cost, payment terms, needing to meet inspection before getting paid, multiple contracts covering same project, not making payment contingent on the mortage company receiving and disbursing the funds, etc. It is quite possible you do not evenn have an enforceable contract, in which case it becomes a "he said - she said" situation. Made worse in your case by the fact it will be "he said AND son said versus you said". Lack of a contract does not mean he does not get paid - just means he gets paid what his work was worth.


I give up - talk to an attorney specializing in Homeowner Contracts, because you are both at fault here, and right now you have yourself wide open to unlimited charges and lien.


Oh - and Don said that a lien is not that big a deal. I would argue strongly about that. Having a lien slapped on your house is a court filing, so it shows up on credit searches and legal history searches of your name forever as equivalent to failure to pay a bill, will show on your credit report for I think it is 7 years, can cause acceleration of your house loan or mortage requiring immediate payment of the FULL remaining balance, and can result in materials suppliers and any other contractors doing the same thing to protect themselves. If you have ANY other type of debt, including home improvement or home equity or reverse mortgage, car loan, credit card, student loan, revolving charge accounts etc - a great percentage of them have fine print that says they can be immediately called if you declare bankruptcy or have an overdue debt OR HAVE A LIEN OR GARNISHMENT etc etc filed against you. Can also make you lose your security clearance and therefore maybe your job if you have one. This is something you want to fight vigorously from the get go, and for that you need an attorney. Typically there is a VERY short timeframe for objecting to a lien in court.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

I am confused as to how I am at fault except for not expecting a broader scoped contract. He HAS been paid. The job was quoted and adjusted and he's gotten almost half the money in that estimate. His son's bill has been paid it just had to come out of monies he'd expected for his own pocket. I realize the danger of a lien which is what I was trying to avoid. We did find damage that was unexpected that we paid our plumber to handle out of pocket. There was a foundation leak. I am simply tired of the constant barrage for more money and the time frame as well as the constant problems with the work. Tile had to be redone, cabinetry put in twice. He's complaining about how long he's had the POD outside. That is his issue not mine. He has only had one worker here for the last 7 weeks expected to do 16K worth of work. We've also paid for upgrades out of pocket, i.e. tile and countertops as well as paying for materials that were priced over the amount in the estimate i.e. higher grade paneling for the basement. I was glad to get more information on the lien as I've never dealt with that before. Again my thanks.

Answered 5 years ago by jmsobetski

2
Votes

Yes a good contract would have helped alot! And I hate these what I call Carpet Bagger contractors that seem to appear after disasters.

In my state NJ a contract has to have a start and completion date by law. It should have spelled out all materials and the grade of the materials. There are fines to the contractor for not compying with these. I know this info is of no use to you right now since it is after the fact but it might come into play if you have to go to court over this. He as the contractor has to know all the laws regulating his business and not the home owner. When I said a lein is no big deal I meant that as long as you pay him he must remove the lein and also you should ask for a lein release befor handing him the final check. It sounds to me like you are dealing with a fly by night contractor and it is quite possible any subs he has used or material suppliers may have filed leins. It is standard procedure for many lumber yards and other companies to place a lein on the property. As long as the contracted money is paid and the lein removed it will not have any influence on your credit or future sale of your home.

Seven weeks for this job seems excessive but I can not say for sure with out knowing all the particulars. The choice of cabinets could slow it down 4 to 6 weeks alone. But they should have been ordered at the start and should only take a few days to install. If as you say his son got involved in this business after a storm he should know the insurance payment proccess is slow. I have a line of credit I use to do these jobs to pay my subs and suppliers, Though I do not do too many of these as I feel like a vulture preying on these home owners. I have jacked up homes and replaced sections of foundation walls in less time than you are talking about for this job and I had three going on at the same time.


Don

Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon

0
Votes

Hi, this is Meranda with Angie's List.


While I can't answer your primary question, I wanted to chime in and remind you to file a review about your experience with this business. Not only will it help other consumers understand what they're getting into and the importance of a detailed contract and payment schedule, but ALSO, when you submit a review with an overall grade of C or below, you have the chance to get help through our Complaint Resolution Progress. This team helps mediate and resolve problems between our members and companies that haven't held up their end of the bargain.


If you have questions about leaving the review or how the process works, get in touch with member services: memberservices@angieslist.com or 1-888-944-5478 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time.


Good luck!

Answered 5 years ago by Meranda

0
Votes

So the contractor pulled out of the job this morning and threatened several lawsuits including defamation of character due to a conversation my husband had with another one of his customers regarding quality of work. This doesn't worry me except for the hassle of a lawyer. Police were here to assure anything they took out of the house belonged to them. In regards to the time frame. The cabinets were off the shelf so no special ordering. It was however an install issue since he purchased all the wrong sizes and had to re purchase and his guys reinstall. Lien is being placed according to him though a property attorney said he can't unless we refuse to pay. I have paid all work contracted according to the money the mortgage company has sent me and every penny is accounted for on my end. We were told this would take a month at best. We purchased paneling up front as well as countertops and tile. it all sat here for weeks with no one to install it. The length of time on the job was due to a single worker being here except for about 4 days with someone brought in to paint and someone to redo the tile when the first gentleman installed it crooked. Not sure what other information I can give to help anyone here give me any more advice or information. I was wary of leaving a bad review about him to ANYONE just for this reason. But now we are in it up to our eyeballs and today is lawyer search in case he does try to sue or try to get my husband fired because he's threatened to contact his employer though I am unsure completely why.

Answered 5 years ago by jmsobetski

0
Votes

I'm sorry to hear about this escalation and understand your wariness given his new level of threats. Please get in touch with member services to at least alert us to his threats and the specific company, as one thing that we don't tolerate is companies bullying consumers to avoid a bad review. Even if you don't submit a review, which I'd still encourage you to do with the facts you have documented (timeline, prices paid, scope of work vs. completed work, etc.), this is important information for us. Contact memberservices@angieslist.com or 1-888-944-5478 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time. Good luck!

Answered 5 years ago by Meranda

1
Vote

This may be to simple to mention but make sure the lawyer is one that does contract law. For traffic you need a lawyer well versed in that, estate another, divorce another and so on. Quite often people go to the family lawyer and they are not always the best at different areas. One thought might be contacting your local TV station. I don't know how long ago the storm was that made his son get his mitigation certification but as I said in a previous post these things seem to make the creeps come out of the wood work. I would contact the local building department if for nothing else to let them know so they can watch this guy. I would love to know the exact extent of the damages. If it was just a broken pipe it should not have been that extensive unless you were not home and the water leaked for a long time!

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress or if you have any questions those that answer here can help with. I think between the three that have helped you may be getting to close to 100 years of experience. I have 40 and I think LCD may have a bit more than that! Wish one of us was close enough to be of help physically.


Don


Don

Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon

0
Votes

Sorrry - when I said both parties are partly at fault, I did not mean you were currently contributing to the situation, other than by maybe not terminating him when problems first cropped up with performance. I meant, considering the total picture, that because there was not a definitive scope of work and a schedule and a single General Contractor for the work, that initiated your problem. So "at fault" in a causality sense of the word, not in the sense of aggravating the ongoing problem.


Was he bonded ? If so, talk to the lawyer about quickly putting a claim in against his bond to get the job finished. This is a classic case of where the bond comes into play.


Do some serious documentation to date, including lots of photos as of when he walked off the job, and write up an inventory of what work he did, what was finished and accepted (if any) and what left undone or partly done.


Talk to the lawyer right off about how to notify insurance and mortgage companies about this change of contractors, especially if you need to stop any further paymetn to him.


Bear in mind, and mention this issue to the lawyer, that if you had two separate contracts going with the son and father, just because one quit does not mean the other is automatically off the job nor is it justifiction to terminate that contract - from his perspective OR yours. That is going to complicate things if the son is still doing work too, because if the lack of the remediation contractor holds him up, you could be liable for losses to him on that, even though the remediation contractor was his father. Hopefully the mitigation part is long done.


One final comment on the lien - yes, once paid off it has to be released by the contractor, so that would not affect future transfer of property. However, the fact a lien was placed, unless you can get a judge to revoke it as improper, THAT stays on the recorder's records and will show up in a future title search, which could affect your ability to get a good interest rate on any future home purchase; and will stay on the credit report, though if revoked by the judge you can file that paperwork with the credit bureaus as a response or maybe to get them to remove it from the file.


Be sure to mention to the attorney the threat to talk to your husband's employer - unless what your husband said was done while he was working, or to someone he knows as a result of his employment, this could be considered a threatening act and criminal harrassment. Of course, what he said makes a difference too - if factual or just mentioned you were having problems with him not as big a problem, if he called the contractor a liar and a cheat etc etc then that could cause real trouble. If it gets into legal trouble because of that, then unfortunately you might be into needing a different type of lawyer also, specializing in employment issues or in slander and libel and defamation of character suits - so you might consider going with a larger law firm that has multiple capabilities instead of just a contracts lawyer.


While Angie's List obviously wants input on troublesome contractors as soon as possible, I would emphatically recommend you NOT post ANYTHING on this guy without your attorney's approval, which undoubtedly will not come until the end of this mess, if even then because many settlement documents prohibit talking to anyone about the terms of the settlement and these days sometimes specifically prohibit talking to reporters about it or poting comments about it. Note the case a couple of weeks ago of the college teacher who won a settlement against his employer the school, only to lose the cash settlemetn because his teeenage daughter posted that she was getting a vacation in Europe this summer because he won X dollars against the school - but it had a non-disclousre clause in the settlement. Yes it would be nice to warn others, but you need to watch out for your own interests first, and posting something that relates to or could potentially affect the case could backfire on you badly.


And no offense intended to AL, but this is NOT the type of case to trust to Angies List dispute resolution - it is WAYYY past that point.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

I did speak to a lawyer versed in contract law as well as submit our information for case review by a second law firm. We've been informed by them that the GC is in breach of contract per the contract that he drafted. We received an invoice from him this morning via email outlining work he has done or said he has done partially demanding another 6 grand on top of the 7 that was already paid. The mortgage company is aprised of the situation. It turns out their inspectors were here to inspect percentage of completion before he actually pulled out of the job. They said he might be at 60 percent completion. The GC's invoice is billing for something about 10% overhead and sales taxes etc on things purchased. The city building inspectors are scheduled to come for inspection as well. I am not sure how to find out if he is bonded or not or how to go about placing a lien against it. Actually I am not sure what the bond is for. I had to be bonded years ago for a min. wage job but that's the extent of my knowledge.

Answered 5 years ago by jmsobetski

0
Votes

Your attorney can explain about bonds. The bond you had was a personal liability bond, in case you ran off with the money or such. For contractors, we are talking a Performance Bond, where an insurance/bonding company guarantees, up to the amount of his contract (and that might be the rub, if there was no written estimate or bid), that if he quits the job or fails to complete is to code and general workmanlike manner, that they will either pay your the difference to go get another contractor, or contract to get it finished themselves.


If the mortgage company inspector was there right when he quit that is good - also get the city inspectors report and take lots of photos AND have them date documented by the attorney so he can not argue the date taken and that it was his work you took photos of.


Be sure before any new work is done that the attorney approves it, because that will destroy evidence - might put you in limbo for a bit, or attorney may suggest having an engineer or architect do an inspection and status report and estimate to complete to record the current condition.


Good Luck - before you post anything more about this I would suggest you get permission from your attorney - and give him a printout of or link to this thread, so he knows what you have said publically - the comments might give him some ideas too.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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