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How do we stand legally?

How do we stand legally?

Old Jun 25th 2010, 4:16 pm
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Default How do we stand legally?

So, we've contracted 3 companies to do our back garden - one to build the pool, another to do the landscaping, and the 3rd who is building us an outside loo and extending the balcony to make a sun-deck.

It's this 3rd company we have an issue with, and we want them off the job.

We have paid them 1/3 of the price up-front.

The owner of the company is coming out in 45 minutes. How do we stand in American law for breaking a contract if we go that route?

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old Jun 25th 2010, 4:22 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

I should say that the reasons we want them off are numerous, but in essence, they are the Orelly Men (Fawlty Towers)
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Old Jun 25th 2010, 4:36 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

You have a written contract right? It has break clauses for under performance and stuff right? It wasn't all done on a word and a handshake right?
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Old Jun 25th 2010, 6:48 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by Mandana View Post
So, we've contracted 3 companies to do our back garden - one to build the pool, another to do the landscaping, and the 3rd who is building us an outside loo and extending the balcony to make a sun-deck.

It's this 3rd company we have an issue with, and we want them off the job.

We have paid them 1/3 of the price up-front.

The owner of the company is coming out in 45 minutes. How do we stand in American law for breaking a contract if we go that route?

Any advice would be appreciated.
Need some more details about why you're firing them to say for sure. However, if you can prove they haven't done the work to your satisfaction then you're probably all right. If they have ordered a bunch of custom material for you - you may be liable for that cost if they choose to pursue it in court. How does your contract read?

In subcontracting the 1/3 deposit generally covers the bare bones (projected) labor and material expense. Some subcontractors leave much less of a profit margin for themselves but they are they are the stupid ones.

You can forget about getting your deposit back though.

Last edited by Leslie; Jun 25th 2010 at 6:57 pm. Reason: piss flaps
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 1:00 am
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Thanks both.

Well, after a few fraught phone calls the owner came out to see us. He brought with him the guy who is running our job (who we have the problem with mostly) and for now, we'll keep them on.

They did come highly recommended, but this 'foreman' who appears to be on Red Bull and Pro Plus by the bucket is new, and has too much on his plate.

Anyhow, for now we'll see how they go. None too happy really, but with a far chunk of our wonga and promises to make things right, we have little choice.

Thanks for both your replies.
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 1:15 am
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by Mandana View Post
Thanks both.

Well, after a few fraught phone calls the owner came out to see us. He brought with him the guy who is running our job (who we have the problem with mostly) and for now, we'll keep them on.

They did come highly recommended, but this 'foreman' who appears to be on Red Bull and Pro Plus by the bucket is new, and has too much on his plate.

Anyhow, for now we'll see how they go. None too happy really, but with a far chunk of our wonga and promises to make things right, we have little choice.

Thanks for both your replies.
If the issue is primarily speed at which they are performing the work, that makes it very difficult to break the contract unless it is explicitly stated in the contract that the construction will be completed by a certain time or it is months behind an agreed upon schedule. The contractor not showing up on some days or under staffing the needed number of people for the job is generally not cause for breaking a contract.
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 1:54 am
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

So he's working too fast!
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 2:05 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Never pay up front, unless it is for materials that have been delivered to site.
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 3:12 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by Boiler View Post
Never pay up front, unless it is for materials that have been delivered to site.
Yep, our philosophy too. Trouble is, we're new here, and despite knowing how to play the game back home, it's a different kettle of fish having to deal with HOAs and the like.

They've not started - that's the issue. We don't have HOA approval because of their incompetence. The 'foreman' is the problem - overworked, very hot and tired. Stressed to the hilt, so not paying attention to detail (even basic stuff), and very defensive.

Anyhow, the owner came out with foreman. Big meeting. Builders came too, so everyone now knows (hopefully) what's what. They are bending over backwards to placate us, so we'll see how it goes.

They know we aren't happy and that we would have sacked them, so let's hope once they start building they do a good job. I'm overseeing every brick laid, I can tell you!
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 5:23 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by Mandana View Post
Yep, our philosophy too. Trouble is, we're new here, and despite knowing how to play the game back home, it's a different kettle of fish having to deal with HOAs and the like.

They've not started - that's the issue. We don't have HOA approval because of their incompetence. The 'foreman' is the problem - overworked, very hot and tired. Stressed to the hilt, so not paying attention to detail (even basic stuff), and very defensive.

Anyhow, the owner came out with foreman. Big meeting. Builders came too, so everyone now knows (hopefully) what's what. They are bending over backwards to placate us, so we'll see how it goes.

They know we aren't happy and that we would have sacked them, so let's hope once they start building they do a good job. I'm overseeing every brick laid, I can tell you!
It makes a huge difference IMO.

Everyone seems to want 30% up front before they will do anything...the excuse is usually it's for materials.
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 8:10 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by Jerseygirl View Post
It makes a huge difference IMO.

Everyone seems to want 30% up front before they will do anything...the excuse is usually it's for materials.
If you look at it from the contractor's POV, it's not really an 'excuse'. Lots of clients bail out on a job they agreed to & contractors are left holding the goods.

DH takes a deposit upfront before starting repair work for people (50% usually) because he puts an enormous amout of time into the jobs. People have a funny way of 'going broke' right when it's time to pick up the work.
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 8:19 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by meauxna View Post
If you look at it from the contractor's POV, it's not really an 'excuse'. Lots of clients bail out on a job they agreed to & contractors are left holding the goods.

DH takes a deposit upfront before starting repair work for people (50% usually) because he puts an enormous amout of time into the jobs. People have a funny way of 'going broke' right when it's time to pick up the work.
I agree. My next door neighbor is a contractor and he prefers to get leads from referrals of other satisfied clients of his. His reason? When you advertise, you have to be wary of who may hire you, just as we might be wary of the contractors we hire.
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 8:57 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

If the contractor does a good job, paying 30%, even 50% upfront isn't an issue. The pool company only wanted $1500 but did an inordinate amount of work upfront.

This company of f***wits didn't even submit proper plans to the HOA :curse:
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 9:02 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by Mandana View Post
So, we've contracted 3 companies to do our back garden - one to build the pool, another to do the landscaping, and the 3rd who is building us an outside loo and extending the balcony to make a sun-deck.

It's this 3rd company we have an issue with, and we want them off the job.

We have paid them 1/3 of the price up-front.

The owner of the company is coming out in 45 minutes. How do we stand in American law for breaking a contract if we go that route?

Any advice would be appreciated.
Mechanics Lien.
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Old Jun 26th 2010, 9:17 pm
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Default Re: How do we stand legally?

Originally Posted by Jerseygirl View Post
It makes a huge difference IMO.

Everyone seems to want 30% up front before they will do anything...the excuse is usually it's for materials.
It's not an excuse unless you've hired scam artists. Having worked in the remodeling and decorating for many years, asking for a deposit simply weeds out the flakes. The ultimate goal is to collect the whole amount and future referrals. Going around ripping off people for one third and not doing the work wouldn't keep a guy who was working out of the back of his truck in business for long. We were licensed, insured, bonded, had a showroom, workshop, and a small fleet of vehicles. One third didn't even cover our operating costs - it just kept the customers honest. Collectively our guys had hundreds of years of experience and, quite frankly, we had better things to do than fart around with crazy people who didn't know what they wanted or wanted something for nothing. You get what you pay for IMO.
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