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Trying to get final payment for a job completed

MontanaMechanics LienNotice of Intent to LienRecovery Options

My husband subcontracted a job and was delayed in getting the project done due to material that didn't match etc. Once proper material was acquired the job was finished. The homeowner didn't have any complaints as the job was being done, to begin with but now when it comes time to pay, he is making several complaints to to the general, but the general has not provided a list of repairs to be made. He has not yet paid my husband for the work done, and is trying to call a small 800.00 payment and now a 1500.00 payment as payment in full. The full job should be in excess of 3875.00 for siding alone and more for the fascia and soffit. What can be done to get paid what is owed to us?

1 reply

Aug 1, 2019
That's a good question, and I'm sorry to hear about the trouble this job is causing you and your husband. Let's look at some common options that can help with speeding up construction payments.

Notice of Intent to Lien
We'll talk more about mechanics liens and why they're effective below. But, because a mechanics lien is such a powerful payment recovery tool, it's worth noting that sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien can go a long way toward getting paid. A Notice of Intent to Lien is essentially a warning shot - it informs an owner and/or contractor that if the sender isn't paid and paid soon, they're not afraid to take whatever means are necessary to get paid. Considering the stakes that could be in play when a mechanics lien is filed, most owners and contractors can't afford to take such a threat lightly. As a result, a Notice of Intent to Lien can do a lot to get payment talks going. More on that here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

Filing a mechanics lien
As hinted at above, a mechanics lien is probably the most powerful tool available when construction payments are owed but unpaid. By filing a mechanics lien, a claimant actually puts an encumbrance on the property title - threatening the owner's interest. Ultimately, if the lien isn't dealt with and the lien claimant enforces their mechanics lien, the owner could actually have their property foreclosed upon. Mechanics liens are a bit of a nuclear option, but if an owner or contractor refuses to pay what's due, it can be a really effective tool for getting paid. You can learn more about how mechanics liens lead to payment with this article: How Do Mechanics Liens Work? 17 Ways a Lien Gets You Paid. For more on Montana's specific rules on filing mechanics liens, this is a great resource: Montana Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs

Other options
Of course, there are always options outside of the mechanics lien process that can help to speed up payment. For one, threatening to take legal action, much like threatening to file a lein, can speed things along. Nobody likes dealing with a lawsuit - even a small claims suit - so threatening to take action under breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or some other legal theory could be effective.

If push comes to shove, actually pursuing litigation or a claim in small claims court could do the trick. Also, threatening to send a debt to collections - or actually doing so - can also do the trick, though this might be a thorny process.

I hope this information was helpful! If you or your husband have any clarifying questions, please feel free to come back and post another question at the Expert Center. Good luck!
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