I promised myself this post would be brief, but it didn't work out that way........!!
I am struggling with a contractor and I am considering a small-claims suit, and I'm hoping someone, anyone, can help me here.
A little background:
I originally had a different contractor (let's call him the owner of XYZ Biz) out to the house and he gave me a quote for major renovations. He was an older man, and showed up in slacks and a tie, and made a good impression. Didn't look like the type that actually did the physical sort of labor we were talking about. When a different man showed up on Monday to start work, all I was told was "This is Mike, he'll be working on your house." I thought Mike was his employee.
As I worked out later, after many pointed questions, I figured out that XYZ Biz passed this job on to Mike.
But it turns out that Mike doesn't actually own a business. I'm not sure he even has a contractor's license. And I had to find this out by accident, by hearing random comments between Mike and his helper, and thinking the situation felt odd, and then by asking questions. NO ONE ever came forward to tell me that "XYZ Biz" was not actually doing the work. Mike was at least 2 weeks into the job before I discovered he was not working for XYZ Biz.
Soooo, the problem is that Mike was not here for the original discussion, and he claims he was not told about certain parts of the job, and that he was not paid for that work by the original contractor, (who was still billing me even though his company was not involved!). Mike has openly admitted to me that he doesn't show up when promised because he has lost money on this job and is working on other jobs that pay better.
So, what I'm wondering is what kind of legal ground I am standing on, if anyone wants to toss out an opinion. My stuff has been in storage all this time, and I am looking at at least 2 months extra storage rent ($200), plus the hassle of not having my stuff when I need it, and sometimes having to buy replacement items (warm weather clothes, for example) because the originals are buried in a storage unit. Plus, the time lost for all the times he promised he was coming and then didn't show or call. Plus the fact that the first guy said the job would take 3-4 weeks, and I believe it would have (or reasonably close to it) if his men had actually been doing the work. As it stands, I have been living in a construction zone for almost 3 months, because Mike pencils me in and only works here whenever it is convenient for him.
And I'm also pretty angry at the first contractor. I feel like the whole thing was shady. The first contractor runs a large construction company and I thought I was getting the work done by professionals. What I got was shoddy, unprofessional work by Mikey from down the block. I believe the first contractor had an obligation to make it clear to me that his company was not actually doing the work. I should point out that the first guy knew from Day 1 that he was passing this job off to someone else, yet he sent to me a written estimate for the job on his company letterhead. Then, I requested a corrected estimate due to errors on the first one, which he also sent. At no point did he ever point out that his company was not actually involved anymore. He actually sent me two written estimates, knowing the other guy had started work. What on earth??! He had to have known that I thought he was still involved. I'm pretty sure he took some percentage of what I paid, and I suspect that he knew I would be angry if I found out that a "nobody" was doing the work. I had made very clear to him when I first met him that I had already had one bad experience and I was very wary of it happening again. So, he deliberately left me in the dark, IMO.
And before anyone suggests that I somehow was not paying enough attention, let me just say that I strongly feel like I did due diligence here. I had already had that previous bad experience with a fly-by-night company that I found online and they made me pay up-front (for materials, they said) and they took my money ($2,200!!!) and disappeared. So, this time I vowed not to make the same mistake. I got a personal referral for this company, I verified that it was a legit company, and I got not one, but two written estimates. So, not sure what else I could have done. If I authorize XYZ to do the work and he sends me an estimate and then he shows up and says, "Mike here will be working on your house", I think anybody would think that Mike worked for him. Am I wrong?
Sorry so long, I got carried away. Any thoughts? Or if anyone has any similar experiences with contractors leaving you hanging, how did you deal with it? Anybody know the legal terms for their actions? Also, I still owe $440 for the last bit of work they did in the bathroom and I am wondering what my legal options are regarding holding back that payment until such time as this may be settled in court.
Thanks in advance for reading this long post, and any help is much appreciated!