Robert Lamoureux | Dealing with a difficult contractor

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux
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Question No. 1 

Hi Robert, 

Thank you for helping me in the past with a water heater problem. I know you are not a lawyer, but I appreciate any advice you can give me. I will try and hit the lowlights. If you need further clarification, I can send a more detailed email, or would be glad to talk to you. You may use my incident in The Signal if you like, so others don’t have to go through what I have for the last four months. 

I hired what I thought was a reputable roofing company for a new roof. I had used them in the past for some small projects, and they were very good. Unbeknownst to me, the company changed owners right before I hired them, but kept the good name. 

June 8 — work started. The owner of the company said it would take four days. The bid was for $8,600. There was a clause in the contract that I was aware of for “extra” work, like painting, extra man hours, replacing wood, etc. 

At the end of June, I paid an additional $1,200 — for the permit and extra plywood, he said. 

July 17 — I had to order the owner off my property. He was disrespectful, and so many lies and excuses for five weeks. He did finish the roof but destroyed the eaves and some fascia board with his work. I will have to pay a painter to repair. 

Aug. 25 — he sends another invoice through email for $1,789.60. I paid that. It was kinda close to the hours and work from June 24 to July 17. 

A few days later, he leaves a nasty text and voicemail, yelling how dare I not pay him what I owe him. I texted back, I paid the exact invoice. 

Sept. 29 — I received an invoice through email. It says I owe him another $1,620! And, of course, the invoice says if I don’t pay — liens, attorney fees, interest, etc., I will be responsible for. I have already paid him about $3,000 over the initial bid. 

He told me many times in the five weeks that he was coming and going, that he underbid by $8,000, and he should have walked away from the job. He said he felt sorry for me because my mother was ill and passed. 

This has been a total nightmare!! My family and I were grieving for my mother, and they were banging on the roof because of his lies. I have lost a lot of sleep over this incident, and it is very stressful. 

This roofing contractor is lying about the hours of his men and wants more money. I documented all hours. I can even contact two of the workers (who never worked with him before and won’t again, to verify). Even though the August invoice came 40 days after he left the property, I paid it. 

It is now October, and about 80 days since he left the property, and he wants more money. He says he waited in line at Home Depot, and had to use a lot of gas to come to my house, etc. 

How can he keep doing this? HELP! I did check online for his license with the state board. It is active, but there is a line that says “the license may be suspended at a future date if the qualifying person is not replaced by 10/25/20.” 

What does this mean? I’ve included the license number, if you want to look it up. 

I have lived in this house for 27 years, and this is a first. This contractor is trying to intimidate a 60-something female. 

Please Robert, what are my options? Just pay, and be done, and let him win, and say ‘lesson learned’? Contact the state with my complaint? Can they advocate for me, or do I have to hire a lawyer to assist? Write a response to him, saying I won’t pay, and the reasons, and see what he does? 

Thank you very much for your help. 

— Marilyn M. 

Answer No. 1 


Recap of phone call: 

Robert told Marilyn that the contractor should have issued documented change orders as things unfolded, which she said had not been done. 

A 20-day preliminary notice was not filed and sent to Marilyn, so though the contractor is stating he could lien the property, he cannot. There is legal protocol that must be followed for a contractor to be able to exercise a right to lien a property, and this was not done. 

This sounds very much like the contractor is trying to take advantage of this homeowner. 

In looking online at the license, it seems as though it has been passed around several times, with several names on it. I cannot quite figure out what is going on with it, even after checking the Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB) page. It seems very convoluted. 

I did recommend to Marilyn to notify this contractor to stop harassing her or she would then file a complaint with the CSLB. I also instructed her to check with the city, to be sure that an actual permit was filed and signed off on. 

This is an unfortunate circumstance that can happen even when a homeowner does their due diligence in checking contractors prior to hiring them. 

The best we can do is just that, our best to vet the contractor, and then hope for the best. One way is to use licensed contractors that have been referred to you by someone trustworthy. 

I do many things old-school, and I still believe that this is the BEST form of advertising — word of mouth. 

Please always feel free to reach out to me for any referrals. I am happy to share contact information for those contractors that do great work that I respect. 

— Robert

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].

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