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Question DetailsAsked on 10/24/2016

What can be done when you have paid 90% of the job and an independent contractor dies before your job is complete?

There were many delays during the project and no part of the project is complete. Two bathrooms, kitchen, flooring throughout and exterior work. He committed suicide before completing the project. I have some of the materials, but not all and I recently found out that the subcontractors have not been paid in full.

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1 Answer


Sounds like you need a lawyer first off - to protect your right and to file a claim against his estate and/or business and possibly against any life insurance he had too, and perhaps file a lien against his estate or get a writ of possession or similar to recover materials that were bought but not yet delivered to the jobsite, depending on how it was set up legally. It is also possible that his estate executor will be coming after YOU looking for money or return of materials on your property, so having an attorney to handle this and the likely issue of vendor/subcontractor liens is almost certain to be necessary for that size job. Given his suidcide, I would assume he was likely WAYYY behind on vendor and subcontractor payments, so it is highly likey (in my opinion) that they will start filing liens on your propetry to get paid by you.

And yes - even though the contract was with the general contractor and you had no direct relationship with the subs or vendors, mechanics/contractor lien laws are set up so even if you paid the prime contractor, if he did not pay his suppliers or subs they can come3 after you for the valule of their products or work - making you pay twice for the same thing if you cannot recover the money you paid to the general contractor. And worse - if liens are filed against your house, that can cause acceleration of not only construction loans and mortgage, but act as a "default" and ruin your credit rating and cause acceleration of other types of loans, work related issues, loss of security clearances, even cancelation of insurances or increased insurance and loan rates - so do NOT let a lien issue get ahead of you.

It may be another contractor will take over his company and its contracts and liabilities - but don't count on it, especially if this guy was a one-man or very small outfit. And if a company does, it may not be a contractor you would choose to work with or like - whether you would hve to deal with such a follow-on buyer contractor would depend on the terms of the original contract.

MIght also be the spouse or family members will try to run the business, if there was one. OR he/she could try to run off with all the assets and not cover any of the company's liabilities - who knows.

Most likely recourse - calling his Bond and having the bonding company cover the completion of the job for the original contract price (hopefully you have a contract with defined scope of work). They would also pay off the unpaid suppliers/subcontractors as part of their coverage, and might actually contract with them to complete the job depending on the bonding company and the status of the various trade's work.

Can also cause building permit/inspections issues, because follow-on contractors will commonly not want to accept responsibility for the first guy's work, so may require some rework to bring the inspections up to date (if he was on schedule with them at all) - with the suicide issue it could be all his jobs were going to pot and he may not have done all he should have on permits, inspection,s, etc - that would have to be looked into. IF you had an architect on the job designing the remodel, he/she may be able to help you on determining what still needs to be done, what inspections and permits need to be brought up to date (if only by changing the contractor's name on them), etc.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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