What doI do if a homeowner ceases a building project and refuses to pay for labor?

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What doI do if a homeowner ceases a building project and refuses to pay for labor?

I am an independent contractor in Nebraska. I was 90% complete in a $20,000 garage and concrete project when the homeowner decided that the 50% completed concrete work was not sufficient and I told him I would fix the problems and finish the work. He then decided that he did not want me to complete the concrete work. The garage is fully done according to contract with extra work that the homeowner added in to the project that was not included in the contract. All of the building permits have been signed and approved along with any other permits necessary to the project. All of the materials have been paid for in full by the homeowner but now the homeowner refuses to pay for the labor that was included on the contract. I have not paid my employees yet. What can I do?

Asked on August 25, 2011 Nebraska


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you are a licensed contractor in the state where you are doing the work of improvement for the property owner on the $20,000 garage and concrete project and have a written contract with the property owner signed and dated by him or her for this work of improvement, you can commence with the perfection of a mechanic's lien on the project assuming you have properly pre-liened the property where the project is located.

To protect yourself, you need to write the property owner a letter advising him or her that you are ready, able and willing to complete the project that the property owner is unwilling to let you proceed with the project's completion. Keep a copy of the letter sent to the owner for future reference.

If the property owner fails to pay you what is owed, you will most likely need to file suit to foreclose upon any perfected mechanic's lien, for breach of contract and common counts for services and materials provided.

You need to pay your employees as soon as possible for what they are owed.

You should consult with an attorney experienced in construction law regarding your situation.

Good luck.



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