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Nate99

Permit transfer - contractor flaked out

6 posts in this topic

This is a dusty corner of the forum, but my question is fairly locally specific to City of Houston permits, so if anyone runs across it with expertise, I'd love whatever advice you could offer.

 

I signed up last August with a contractor to build an extension off of my garage to have an outdoor kitchen/covered patio. It is 95% complete at this point with only final plumbing (tie in gas line to grill and water/sewer sink) and overall final inspections (structure and electrical are done) left to obtain to close out the permits. The general contractor has not been on site in months and has broken numerous promises to get the subcontractors out to finish.  The last substantial work we had done was over two months ago and that was after another month of no work and waiting. He still answers my calls and occasionally my texts, but what I get out of those conversations turns out to be either wishful thinking or outright lies on his part. I think he took a big project out of town and I'm guessing he's either out of cash .

 

So in any case, I need to get this finished, but the permits were taken out in his name. I understand from talking to the city that he could sign them over, but I am not hopeful that I could track him down to pull that off. Under the original agreement, I still owe the contractor a final installment payment due upon completion, but given his inability to finish the job, I'm looking for other alternatives. My thought now is hire another plumber myself to finish the work and see if I can get the city inspector to close out the permits as they sit right now, but I don't know if that will put me offsides with the city's process.

 

My other issue may be the current GC eventually claiming that I owe him the full amount even though he stopped working, the agreement/contract had no definitive end date or dispute/severance clauses, so shame on me there, but he came well recommended by several folks nearby, and we trusted that he cared about his reputation in the neighborhood enough to do a good job.  I could see us suing each other or me paying him to go away if that ended up being cheaper. 

 

There are other fact that complicate things further, but that's the big stuff. Any ideas on what the best way to proceed might be?

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I am not being flip with my response here.  Please take this in the positive spirit that this is written. 

 

You need to hire a lawyer.  Now.

 

you run several risks here from encumbrances on your property to lawsuits to whatever.  There are likely all sorts of required steps you need to take if you are trying to terminate the current contractor and hire a new one.  They may be spelled out in your contract or may be a matter of law.

 

The situation you describe is not a trivial matter and, as I understand it, Texas law favors builders.  i urge you to seek legal advise from a lawyer you hire and not rely on information on this board.

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, UtterlyUrban said:

I am not being flip with my response here.  Please take this in the positive spirit that this is written. 

 

You need to hire a lawyer.  Now.

 

you run several risks here from encumbrances on your property to lawsuits to whatever.  There are likely all sorts of required steps you need to take if you are trying to terminate the current contractor and hire a new one.  They may be spelled out in your contract or may be a matter of law.

 

The situation you describe is not a trivial matter and, as I understand it, Texas law favors builders.  i urge you to seek legal advise from a lawyer you hire and not rely on information on this board.

 

Thanks, that's what I figured.  Ugh.

 

To be fair though, he does still return calls and seems (I say warily) to want to work things out, I just can't trust his promises to do anything. There are only small dollars left to be paid to him, so paying a lawyer or paying him the amount due under the agreement to go away will be roughly break even.

Edited by Nate99

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9 hours ago, Nate99 said:

 

Thanks, that's what I figured.  Ugh.

 

To be fair though, he does still return calls and seems (I say warily) to want to work things out, I just can't trust his promises to do anything. There are only small dollars left to be paid to him, so paying a lawyer or paying him the amount due under the agreement to go away will be roughly break even.

Good luck.

 

just make sure that if you pay him that he really will "go away" and not file some lien claim anyway.

 

again, good luck and i hope that it all works out for you!

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If it truly is a small amount that the contractor will accept to go away, then having a lawyer paper that agreement shouldn't be terribly expensive, either - and it would be good insurance if the contractor has some buyer's remorse and decides that he doesn't want to go away after all.  Sorry to say it, but having a defaulting contractor is just about a guaranteed headache.

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