Only your lawyer can tell you for sure. You might give him a call.
Whatever the outcome of this, in the future, it might be to your advantage to have your lawyer prepare a contract for you that you can use with any construction crews. I have seen poor contracts between owners and “contractors” cause many expensive problems. The boiler plate “contracts” that most small time “contractors” get from office supply stores are woefully inadequate to address the details that always arise.
At the very least, you need clauses that address what happens if contractor fails to finish the job, what happens if contractor fails to follow codes, leaves underlying problems unresolved or fails to notify you if there are additional problems. These are exactly the type of problems you now are facing. A good contract would address these and provide remedies.
That said, if you make promises, you should keep them, but I would call the workers to account for any problems they should have notified you of and see what sort of negotiated settlement you can work out. It’s only logical that a normal worker should know what’s right and what’s not right in their own trade. I would also have the lawyer send the contractor a strong letter outlining the problems, and demanding a fix at his expense. The money due his workers is HIS responsibility, although they may attempt to lein you. That is why there are lein releases. If you do pay them, GET AN UNCONDITIONAL LIEN RELEASE FROM EACH ONE OF THEM WHEN YOU PAY. Also, only pay them from the total due and don’t pay them for work done incorrectly. (See your lawyer regarding this!) Few things infuriate me more than someone who sees something wrong, knows it’s wrong and then goes ahead anyway. You only have to rip it all out and fix the problem. I fire them on the spot when I see this behavior, for it will carry into every aspect of what they do and reflects not only on their character, but what they think of you. It is also , most definitely addressed in any contract I do.
Bottom line, paying a lawyer a couple hundred to provide protection for you in these situations in advance is WAY cheaper than redoing the work and paying twice. The contractor is responsible and should make this good. I’d file a claim against his liability insurance policy for doing it wrong.You should have his policy on file since he should have had his agent send it to you PRIOR to his starting work. It will have his company, policy number and agent on the paperwork.
Good luck to you,
One day my contractor stopped showing up and I promptly hired a new one. Several days later I received notice that he suffered a heart attack and was unable to work. Since that time I?ve promised several of his workers that they would be paid for the work they did. Upon further investigation I’m finding that a lot of the work done by his crews didn’t meet code and in some cases would have caused bodily harm to anyone who bought my home (people using the upstairs shower would have fallen through the floor because it was rotted out). He has never contacted me despite several messages on his machine and I’ve been unable to confirm he had a heart attack. Everyone who has contacted me claims they didn’t have anything to do with the problems I’m running into. The expenses with these projects has run over so much most of my profits this year will be dedicated to paying off my new contractor. Should I honor my agreement with his people?
I am both a plumbing & a general contractor, & it’s this kind of thing that really gets my goat. People get in the contracting business because it’s easy, there are grandfather clauses that let people with “experience” get licenses without any sort of testing. In Alabama, you can go to a low population county & get a county license by paying a fee, this will give you the “experience” to get a state license. That being said, I don’t know what to do in your situation. I do know that a lot of people get into this position because they go with the lowest price available from a contractor who is licensed, bonded & insured. Licensing & insurance are important, & price is important, but the bottom line is references are the best indication of how a contractor does business.
Sorry to hear about your problems! Check with your states Contractor License Board #1. Most states require Bond for ALL Contractors which is for just such problems. That being said, my experience as Contractor of 25 plus years causes me to be concerned about “Iron Clad” contracts. The more paperwork involved the less likely anyone will be happy with job or doing job. You can never cover every detail of any job that I have ever been involved with a contract. Let the lawyer types worry about the paperwork. And concentrate on find honest, professional workmen. Check references (Not their brother in law), Contractors record and past jobs. Any pro will refuses to do job that is unsafe for anyone. Good Luck.