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Can a stonemason file a mechanic's lien?

IdahoMechanics Lien

We have a new construction residential build. At the recommendation of friends, we chose a different stonemason than our GC usually uses and we have been managing him directly. We have no contract with him. We signed the original estimate of $17,500 and paid a materials deposit of $8,000. Issues with the workmanship occurred and he became very defensive and difficult to deal with. Everything from that point forward occurred through email, with his girlfriend we think writing them. They proposed a final price that included a discount of $2,000 and we agreed to that amount and they termed it the "the final price of the project is $13,752." This is in addition to the $8000 materials payment we had already made. He then finished the rest of the project. We asked for receipts for all the materials and in gathering those he realized the materials cost was $2500 more than he had factored into that "final price of the project." He said he was unaware how much the difference was until then and demanded we pay for it. We negotiated some of that down, but he is still pushing back on more of it and we feel we have used good faith but are no longer interested in negotiating with him. We did not agree to any cost overruns in advance above the $13,752 + $8,000. It feels like the extra materials is a bait and switch. We want to push back and say that the only thing we agreed to was the $13,752 and that is now all we will pay. However, we are concerned that he will put a lien on our build if he does not get the full amount he is now demanding. Negotiating it down, it sits at $1,000 more than the $13,752. So we are talking about not that much in the big picture. We also simply cannot afford to get into a legal fight with him or deal with a lien waiver. On principle, it feels wrong to cave to his demands (especially given his tone and previous conduct), but we also do not know if it is worth the fight. I have multiple debilitating health issues, am recovering from cancer and we are trying to finish building a home with my husband doing most of the remainder of the work himself. We have a lot of other things to be doing with our time, energy and money. So, we are trying to determine if there is any wisdom in pushing back and saying we are not obligated to pay for any costs above what we agreed to at the $13,752 balance due. So I suppose to make a better decision, we would like to know: Without an explicit contract, are we legally obligated to pay for anything a tradesman brings to us after the fact that he did not disclose and get approval for in advance? I have not been able to find a license number for him. Are stonemasons in Idaho licensed? If not and he does not have a license, can he file a mechanic's lien? We are trusting souls who clearly made a bad decision. We just want to be treated fairly and find peace with all of this. Thank you for any help or guidance you can provide. Gratefully, Kathy

2 replies

May 21, 2021
Kathy, Yes, stonemasons are required to be registered in Idaho, Here is the link to the page where you can search for his contractor registration number. https://apps.dopl.idaho.gov/DOPLPublic/LPRBrowser.aspx Idaho State Code stipulates that any contractor who is not registered is denied their lien rights. 54-5208.DENIAL OF LIEN RIGHTS. A contractor who is not registered as set forth in this chapter, unless otherwise exempt, shall be denied and shall be deemed to have conclusively waived any right to place a lien upon real property as provided for in chapter 5, title 45, Fraudulent lien filings are illegal in Idaho, and can be punishable by heavy fines and/or jail time. If the contractor is registered, you can challenge the lien. Prepare your defense for disputing the amount of the lien by gathering all of the emails and any other supporting documentation for your rebuttal. Contact the contractor to dispute the amount of the claim and if he refuses to negotiate a payment settlement, you can dispute the lien by sending a demand to/against the contractor via certified mail return receipt requested, or you can file a lawsuit. Or you could force the contractor to file suit to enforce the lien at which time would produce your documentation showing the amount that was agreed to. Or you can just wait it out since he has to take legal action to enforce the lien within six (6) months of filing.
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May 22, 2021
Thank you, Chuck, for taking the time to provide that information. It is really helpful. I've tried multiple variations on the search for a license and gone through all of the results and don't find him or his business listed. I will call the Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses to confirm, but this is certainly an interesting development, especially if it means he does not have the right to issue a lien. We are gathering information and have found that there may be other issues with the work he did - not simply aesthetic but structural and functional. It's disconcerting that there could be problems with our house that may arise down the road, but at least we will know where we stand. In the meantime, we are learning what we can and will likely consult with an attorney. Ideally, he will accept a negotiated amount, but if not we would be ready for whatever that might bring. Thanks again for providing us such helpful information - much appreciated! ~Kathy
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