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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    26

    Default Sued for Money Allegedly Owed After Firing a Contractor

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Virginia

    Contractor is taking me to court.

    I hired a unlicensed contractor who is not a US citizen to renovate a fixer upper. I pulled the permits as an owner. The contract was simple. The whole project was $125000 for both labor and the materials. The list of the jobs was included. Verbally the contractor promised to perform any rising small additional jobs at no cost.

    I was paying cash in relatively same amounts as the work was progressing. Almost every job was done, the contractor was living a lot of “touch up” behind promising to fix it sometime in a future. I was not happy with his performance. Twice I was asking him to stop and leave. He was begging to continue and promising the superior quality.

    After the contractor broke two expensive glass shower doors, both from different sets and the window, I told him that he is not touching anything in the house anymore and that he is fired. At that point I have already paid him $86000 in cash and I paid about $18000 for the material. All together $104000

    After he left, I have to deal with all the “touch up” plus. I spent $5000 to redo three showers because they were done wrong and leaking water through the ceiling, $7000 to do about 2/3 of the “touch up”, $1000 to connect the outside HVAC that were forgotten to connect, $10000 for the flooring. There are also estimates for jobs that were included into the project and were not done yet: fixing the roof leak $4000, fixing existing and installing new railings $1200, redoing of the breaker box and other electrical issues $2750, $400 shower doors installation, and the rest of “touch up” $2000. It all together is $29750

    Unfortunately the city inspector overlooked many problems and signed the final inspection before lots of things were completed.

    The contractor got a lawyer and requesting me to pay him $25000. The court date is 05/16.

    Will be I able to defend myself without hiring a lawyer ($5000 flat rate)? Will it help if I hire an independent inspector to prove my point?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,953

    Default Re: Contractor is Taking Me to Court. Will Be I Able to Defend Myself

    Quote Quoting A110ver
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    Will be I able to defend myself without hiring a lawyer ($5000 flat rate)?
    I doubt it. Considering you were foolish enough to hire an unlicensed contractor for $125,000 worth of work, I don't think you have the smarts to handle yourself in court going up against somebody else's lawyer.

    Going up against a lawyer without one of your own is like taking a rubber knife to a gunfight. You'll be the one on the ground bleeding.

    Quote Quoting A110ver
    View Post

    Will it help if I hire an independent inspector to prove my point?
    Yes.

    You'll have to have an expert witness to testify in court. It's not small claims. Your sayso isn't going to cut it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    26

    Default Re: Contractor is Taking Me to Court. Will Be I Able to Defend Myself

    Adjusterjack, thank you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,286

    Default Re: Contractor is Taking Me to Court. Will Be I Able to Defend Myself

    I suggest that you hire an attorney also. Virginia has a statute that says that an unlicensed contractor is barred from recovering if, at the time of the contract, they were aware that he was required to have a contractor's license.

    § 54.1-1115. Prohibited acts.


    A. The following acts are prohibited and shall constitute the commission of a Class 1 misdemeanor:

    1. Contracting for, or bidding upon the construction, removal, repair or improvements to or upon real property owned, controlled or leased by another person without a license or certificate, or without the proper class of license as defined in § 54.1-1100 for the value of work to be performed.

    2. Attempting to practice contracting in the Commonwealth, except as provided for in this chapter.

    3. Presenting or attempting to use the license or certificate of another.

    4. Giving false or forged evidence of any kind to the Board or any member thereof in an application for the issuance or renewal of a license or certificate.

    5. Impersonating another or using an expired or revoked license or certificate.

    6. Receiving or considering as the awarding authority a bid from anyone whom the awarding authority knows is not properly licensed or certified under this chapter. The awarding authority shall require a bidder to submit his license or certificate number prior to considering a bid.

    B. Any person who undertakes work without (i) any valid Virginia contractor's license or certificate when a license or certificate is required by this chapter or (ii) the proper class of license as defined in § 54.1-1100 for the work undertaken, shall be fined an amount not to exceed $500 per day for each day that such person is in violation, in addition to the authorized penalties for the commission of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any violation of clause (i) of this subsection shall also constitute a prohibited practice in accordance with § 59.1-200, provided that the violation involves a consumer transaction as defined in the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (§ 59.1-196 et seq.), and shall be subject to any and all of the enforcement provisions of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

    C. A construction contract entered into by a person undertaking work without a valid Virginia contractor's license shall not be enforceable by the unlicensed contractor undertaking the work unless the unlicensed contractor (i) gives substantial performance within the terms of the contract in good faith and (ii) did not have actual knowledge that a license or certificate was required by this chapter to perform the work for which he seeks to recover payment.

    Failure to renew a license or certificate issued in accordance with this chapter shall create a rebuttable presumption of actual knowledge of such licensing or certification requirements.

    Code 1950, § 54-142; 1956, c. 397; 1970, c. 319; 1980, c. 634; 1985, c. 356; 1988, c. 765; 1990, c. 911; 1994, c. 79; 1995, c. 771; 1998, c. 691; 2000, c. 33; 2003, cc. 429, 430; 2004, c. 131; 2008, c. 294; 2018, cc. 43, 653..
    If you can prove that the contractor knew he had to have a license, he would be barred from recovering not withstanding any substantial performance.

    An attorney would know how to question him where you may not given that he would have been coached by his attorney.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Contractor is Taking Me to Court. Will Be I Able to Defend Myself

    I hired an attorney. And I have my counter case.

    I also filed a complaint to DPOR. They officially confirmed that the contractor doesn’t have a license. DPOR is asking me now if I would like to proceed with the criminal charges.

    My attorney told me that she cannot talk to me about that.

    What should I do? I don’t know would it to be to my advantage or disadvantage?

    Please, advise. Thank you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    16,953

    Default Re: Contractor is Taking Me to Court. Will Be I Able to Defend Myself

    I would go for criminal charges in a heartbeat.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    270

    Default Re: Contractor is Taking Me to Court. Will Be I Able to Defend Myself

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    I would go for criminal charges in a heartbeat.
    Agreed, and here is why. The contractor is not going to want to proceed with a civil trial if he has - as I heard one judge delicately put it - Fifth Amendment issues. The contractor can't "plead the Fifth" in a civil suit, but any evidence admitted in that suit can be used by the authorities against him in his criminal case. His attorney should advise him to make whatever deal he could with you to make the civil case go away. You would be a fool not to use that advantage.

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