What can a contractor do to you if you don’t want to pay for his bad workmanship?

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Several homeowners throughout the world have found themselves in this situation: You are unsatisfied with the work your contractor has completed. Consequently, you opt to not pay said contractor on the basis of poor workmanship or inability to complete job properly. Despite the commonality of this situation, the legal implications of denying a man payment for services rendered, irrespective of whether it was done improperly or not, always loom like a dark cloud over a client’s head. What action can be taken by a contractor who has not received payment for his work?



The most passive and expected means of retaliation, a contractor will resort to firstly reasoning out with you concerning the rest of the payment owed to him. During this phase, they hope to clear up any misconceptions concerning the inadequacy of their work and will thrash out every possible argument to justify why they should be paid the remainder of the balance owed to them. If faced with a contractor attempting to negotiate his or her entitlement to payment, communicate your argument in a concise, non-threatening manner. Lay the facts on the table. Explain what was contractually expected to be accomplished and show how the worker faltered at doing so. Describing the issue at hand is a sure way to ensure that the contractor realizes that he or she is at fault, and not you.

File a Lien

Another motion that a contractor may draw upon you is filing a lien. Simply put, a lien is an official complaint logged in the county’s records indicating that the contractor has a claim against you, the homeowner. It acts as a way to blacklist your home. Liens tend to be quite the nuisance for homeworkers, especially if they want to refinance or sell their property, since the house does not have a clean title. Consequently, contractors may file liens against you in order to force your hand into settling in their favour.

File a Lawsuit

The most drastic of all, a contractor may opt to take matters to the courts to decide whether they should be remunerated for their work. A lawsuit may be issued with or without a prior lien being filed. In most cases, contractors file for breach of contract, arguing that you did not fulfill your end of your contract, which was to pay them for their work. Depending on the amount being sought by the contractor, the matter may be adjudicated either in a civil court, or a small-claims court.

In order to defend yourself in this case, you will have to provide evidence that there was a clear agreement between you and the contractor providing him with instructions which were to be completed, those which were not done. You should also have documented proof, be it photographs or videos, to demonstrate that the job was not completed as stipulated in your agreement. Should you be able to provide such evidence, you should be able to win your case.


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