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Question DetailsAsked on 8/16/2014

I have shingles that I hired a contractor to put on, I paid up front do I own the shingles?

I have the shingles but the contractor didn't do the job, I paid $4800.00 up front and he has disappeared. He cashed the check. I have been told that I can't have someone else put the shingles on because legally he still owns the shingles and he could sue whoever does the job. I can't return the shingles because he didn't give me a receipt for them, and I can't find him to get him to release the shingles. Do I own the shingles?

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3 Answers


You would have to ask a lawyer about this, but basically without a receipt or lien release or an invoice or contract showing the shingles cost so much and you paid so much for them (plus maybe additional down payment on the job), person who told you they still belong to him is probably right.

Pain in the rear, but you should talk to an attorney about this - possibly the way to get around it, if he never did any work on the property, would be to file a notice of defualt against him on his contract and get a court-ordered lien release, which means sending him formal notice of the petition to get a lien release and order that you own them (assuming the $4800 equalled or exceeds the value of the shingles, which it most likely does) which if he fails to reply to would result in a default judgement in your favor for the shingles (at fair market value) plus a judgement for whatever remaining deposit amount he owes you.

The tough part - you cannot prove that the shingles were actually paid for - so they may actually still legally belong to someone else (a wholesaler or box store) - and you probably do not know where he bought them to ascertain that. A check with local clerk or recorder's office (whichever applies) to see if a lien has been filed on your house because of nonpayment, and if any liens or lawsuits or involuntary bankruptcy proceedings have been filed against him, might give you an idea of the status.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


In my state (NJ)and I would bet many states if the materials are on your property you really own them and it is up to the contractor to file a lein against you to collect for them. This is one of the things that drive honest contractors nuts, most every law if you have the right contract lawyer in weighted towards the home owner unless you are deaing with ashark that has a good lawyer. I had a problem customer abut 10 years ago that had a problem and the building inspector agreed that there was no problem with the work I did and her brother-inlaw who was the architect said there was no problem and yet I had no way of collecting untill I filed a lein against the property. That was the first time and only time since starting my business in 1975!

If the materialis on your property you own it! just document erery move and letter sent to the original contractor. And this is comming from a contractor. Agreed some states may not be the same but I doubt it.


Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon


I don't think I would go with what Don said - because if you have not paid for them, even if the material is on your property, they certainly do not belong to you, any more than contractor tools that have been put on your property for use on the job belong to you. Whether you have paid for them or not is a gray area - you could probably successfully argue that if the $4800- exceeds the cost of the shingles and no work has been done on the job (other than delivering them to the site) then you have paid for them, but without a receipt showing YOU as the buyer or owner or a lien release from him I certainly would not stick my neck out.

Also, I certainly would not take NJ - or NY, MA, OR, or CA [or LA, because their law is based on French law rather than English common law] as being typical of the rest of the country. Don is absolutely right - a lot of NJ law is just plain screwy, just like lots of NY, MA, OR, and CA law - they have basically abandoned constitutionality in favor of pandering to what the voters want regardless of whether it is fair or equitable. After all, considering some of the people they elect as Governors or major city mayors, what can you expect ?

1 lien situation in 40 years in business - you have lived a charmed life, Don. Even with my experience being more in the more finbancially secure commercial/ industrial and large corporate clients side than residential, I would say about 5-10% of jobs I have been associated with go to at least threat of filing a lien or a collection action (like threatening letter or phone call) beyond normal submittal of a bill - and many times that is with multinational multi-billion dollar companies or government agencies, who have deeper pockets than homeowners ! Or perhaps you are more lenient about overdue bills than my experience, where time is money and the contractor is NOT a loan company or time-payment lender.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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