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Builder does not want to pay me for work I did

CaliforniaRecovery Options

Did $2500 wood flooring install for a good client of mine the builder was supposed to pay but he is refusing. I have emails and text him admitting he had to pay but refuses

1 reply

Nov 13, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. There are a number of potential ways to try and recover what's owed, and I'll lay a few of those options out in this answer. Of course, every situation is different, and it's ultimately up to each individual claimant how best to proceed. First, when payment isn't coming (or when it's coming particularly slowly), threatening to file a mechanics lien is often an effective tool. Making such a threat by sending a Notice of Intent to Lien can go a long way - that document states that if payment isn't made and made soon, a mechanics lien will be filed on the project. What's more, it's a lot cheaper and easier than actually filing a lien, and if it doesn't work, other options can still be taken later. Plus, this document can be sent to everyone up the payment chain, and those higher-tiered parties can help put pressure on a contractor to make payments. Next, if preliminary notice was properly sent and the deadline to file has not yet passed, filing a mechanics lien could be a strong option. Liens are often seen as the nuclear option on a project, but they're the most effective way to secure payment during a dispute when it comes to construction projects. You can learn more about the notice requirements here, and zlien has a step-by-step guide to filing a California mechanics lien here: How to File a California Mechanics Lien. Further, if a lien filing isn't a possibility or if it's an undesirable option, claimants could also send a demand letter threatening specific legal action (such as a breach of contract action, an unjust enrichment action, or a claim under California's prompt payment laws). Sending a demand letter through an attorney is often more effective. Finally, if all else fails, taking legal action in via small claims court or traditional litigation is always an option. Both can be risky, but small claims court is a much cheaper and more efficient option, though claim amounts are limited.
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