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Tips for Getting Paid - What devious or creative methods do you employ

MikeGuertin's picture

Talking with some builder friends, we were sharing tips for ensuring final payment - creatively.  No baseball bats or visits from Vinny, just creative 'gotchas' that force the homeowner open his/her wallet or checkbook.

So what to you do to get the final payment?

Here are a few that friends of mine shared:

 Mason and fireplace.  Insert a piece of glass between the last two flue liner sections. Chimney won't work until the glass is broken out and looking up from the firebox, you still see the sky.  Don't forget to bring a ladder when you swing by to 'fix' the problem.

Plumber and vents.  Leave the pressure test balloon in the vent pipe through the roof and don't glue the last joint.  The sinks will gurgle and toilets won't flush right.  Once paid, the plumber goes up into the attic, lifts the last pipe section up a little so he can slide it down and out of the boot flashing, remove the balloon and then glue the pipe permenantly.

Electrician and juice.  Save the small piece of wire insulation stripped off the incoming power line where the wire slips into the buss bar lug.  On last day of work, loosen the lug, remove wire and reinstall the insulation piece and then put the wire  back into the buss bar lug.  Since it's hard to see, no one will notice it's there and wonder why there's no power.  Alternatively, remove meter from socket and apply electric tape onto the meter bar and then reinsert.  Again, hard to pinpoint why there's no juice. 

Change the locks and keep the (post #200926, reply #1 of 7)

Change the locks and keep the keys.

Seriously, you should have payment schedules in your written contract, including consequences for late payment. No written contract, shame on you, now bend over.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Mike (post #200926, reply #2 of 7)

This information dispensing is akin to secrets to the enemy.


But to the point, I'm not a builder but a remodeler.  While there is the chance that the same late or failure to pay might happen, I've been either lucky or well planned in my draw schedule and completion payments.

This is a result of working referral only.  It's certainly not in my contract language as I'm still relying on the hand shake.  My terms are spelled out in the working agreement along with the scope of the job.  Payable upon presentation of invoice and I have only one blemish on this record.  A roofer I did some framing for did not pay upon completion.  It took him 4 or 5 yrs to pay in peices the 500.00 he owed me.

While I couldn't block his chimney I did manage to give him referrals everytime someone asked if I knew a roofer.  I told the inquirer that here's one roofer you don't want to call.  I'm sure that over the  20 yrs of my dis-referals that he's lost several hundreds of thousands of dollars of volume I could have sent him.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Seems like those are all (post #200926, reply #3 of 7)

Seems like those are all suggestions to get a reputation for doing poor work.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Written contract and liens (post #200926, reply #4 of 7)

I always figured a written contract and a lein were sufficient. 

Not many people want to have the house go to auction over a small bill. 

Just for the fun of it (post #200926, reply #5 of 7)

 I agree that good contracts, payment schedules, client qualifying, and judicious use of liens are buinesslike ways to get the final payment.  Perhaps this  post should have gone to the woodshed.  I was just looking for creative, though not necessarily acted upon, ways to coax a payment.  Maybe it's my twisted sense of humor but I enjoy thinking about acting badly - and chuckling quietly about the prospect.

Where I've seen most problems with payments isn't between clients and contractors but moreso trademen not being paid by contractors.  Stories of deadbeat contractors around here were at a climax 3, 4, 5 years ago when building was cooking.

In most states a sub can (post #200926, reply #6 of 7)

In most states a sub can always put a lein against the house, unless lein waviers have been signed.  And the lein wavier should be backed by a bond or some such.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville