Q.: In your column about a contractor who took the homeowner’s money, you said that “if the contractor cannot pay for the materials out of his own pocket, then you don’t want him working for you.” I must submit a rebuttal.
My husband has been a sole-proprietor home improvement contractor for 27 years. It is standard procedure for him to collect half the money up-front, one-fourth when the job is half completed and one-fourth at finish. What that usually means is that the first payment covers most of the materials. Some of the second payment covers materials, while the rest is payment for his time. The last payment covers the rest of the hours he has worked. Most contractors don’t make a profit until the job is complete and fully paid.
You assume all homeowners are honest and all contractors are dishonest. But for the contractor to put out all the money for the job and then have the homeowner not pay him is as prevalent as the contractor duping the homeowner. Homeowners do have recourse, in that a sheriff can confiscate equipment and personal property for sale to settle a judgment. – J.W., Reading, Pa.
A.: I don’t disagree with many of the points you have made. All too often, a contractor who is well-intentioned gets into financial trouble, which results in the homeowner getting stuck. If materials are delivered to my property that the contractor has ordered and that are charged to the contractor’s account, and then the contractor doesn’t pay, guess who the supplier will come after? The supplier can file a mechanic’s lien on my property.