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Working with clients is often a tricky business for general contractor jobs. You never know what to expect from them, and sometimes they can be difficult, and even unreasonable. One of the biggest risks working general contractor jobs is issues around not getting paid. Without a contract in place, if a customer doesn’t want to pay you after you’ve already completed the work, or if they’re difficult or picky, without a written agreement in place, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from losing money or time on the job.
Before you take any legal action, try to resolve the issue without involving lawyers. If you can’t resolve it, you’ll want to file a small claims court claim. There are two things you can do before filing a court claim: 1) ask the client for more money and 2) file a lien on their property.
A lawyer will charge you an hourly rate (or more likely a flat fee) to draft and review your contract. Then there are court fees, which differ depending on where you live, and the type of case involved. You’ll also have to invest time and energy into preparing your case before it goes to trial—which can take anywhere from days to years depending on the complexity of your dispute.
Filing a claim in small claims court is relatively simple, and the hearing itself is a straightforward process.
In most states, you’ll fill out some paperwork (including an affidavit detailing the facts of your case), pay a filing fee, then show up at court when your case is called. You’ll have to make your case without any legal representation—but it’s worth noting that most judges are very reasonable people who want to hear both sides of the story before making up their mind about what happened.
The best way to avoid getting burned is to create contracts for general contractor jobs you accept. Make sure the contract is clear and easy to understand, and that both parties sign it. If you’re going to do this yourself, make sure you have a lawyer review your contract before using it.
All in all, it’s a good idea to have a contract for every project you do. It can help you avoid problems and make sure that both parties are happy with the work being done. We recommend using contracts no matter how big the general contractor jobs are. Be sure to have in the contract clear payment terms and enforce your payment terms. On the other hand, be sure that you are meeting project deadlines. Good contracts should include:
Both parties should sit down and carefully review the contract together. Any gray areas or ambiguous language should be addressed and corrected before signing the contract. Laying out the expectations of both parties in the contract leads to fewer disagreements and figure-pointing should issues arise.
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