Why is a subcontractor taking me (home owner) to small claims court? His agreement was with the contractor!

7 months ago

A subcontractor had agreements with the contractor of some upgrades to my home. According to the contractor, MUCH of the work that the sub did was sub par, cut corners and incomplete.

5 MONTHS after the job deadline was over, I’ve been served papers by the sub contractor (he can’t reach the contractor) to try and collect 7K.

I never signed ANY contract with the sub. I never had any verbal agreements. I never signed anything. I was never given a 20 day notice or lien notice or anything. (I’ve been reading about that on your site) There was nothing but information relayed BACK TO ME (after the job) from the contractor as to what the sub contractor had done wrong on the job.

What is my defense legally to let the subcontractor know his issue is not with me, but with the contractor who hired him?

Thank you for your time.

Managing Partner Prosperous Law Group, PC
3 reviews

If the subcontractor performed work on your property he may be entitled to equitable claims (fairness) against the property owner.  Subcontractor may not be able to lien your property if he has not prelim his work with you, but he will have equitable claims against you because your property benefited from his work.  Subcontractor will also have contractual and equitable claims against the GC for 1) receiving the benefits of the sub’s work without paying for it and 2) for whatever the contract between the GC and sub says.

If the subcontract between GC and sub does not spell out specifics about workmanship quality, then GC is obligated to pay sub for the work, even if it does not meet aesthetic standards.  Ex. if the contract doesn’t call out that the sub will paint a Picasso standard and instead the sub paints a mediocre painting, then you still are obligated to pay for the work.)

The owner defense may be limited to bringing a claim against the GC and forcing the GC to defend you.  Otherwise, you may be stuck having to pay twice (once to the GC and then again to the sub if the GC doesn’t pay their subs.)

Disclaimer: The information provided here are for general knowledge purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Thank you David for your speedy response.

I like your words “Equitable Claims” I would imagine that if the sub was paid 80 thousand dollars and the amount in question is 7K, shouldn’t the payment rendered be considered “fairness” in terms of Equitable Claims?

If I can show that I had to pay ANOTHER subcontractor to finish the job properly, that should eliminate needing to prove the work was sub par. In any case, is this something I need to hire a lawyer for? Or can I go and present the facts as I see them?

Any final thoughts would be much appreciated.

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