Legal Question in Construction Law in California

I apologize in advance for the detail in this question, but want to make sure all info was stated. We had a contractor (for the sake of example, we will call him Bob). do some minor work on our house in California. To complete the job, Bob stated that we needed an additional contractor. Bob suggested that we work with someone he knows (for simplicity, let's call him John). Bob relayed a verbal estimate from John (in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars). John came and subsequently indicated that he completed the work. Because I was not at the property at the time, I asked John to send an invoice so that I could pay him (the work was done on the exterior, so he was able to complete it without my presence). John was annoyed that we couldn't pay him on the spot, but indicated that he would do what we wanted. This is when things got strange. John basically went dark. We sent him some reminder messages to ask for the invoice so we could remit payment (we neither knew the exact amount since the verbal estimate was a range, rather than a specific amount, nor did we know where to remit payment since we didn't have John's address). Fearing that he might try to make a bogus claim that we somehow tried not to pay him, we persisted in trying to get in touch with him (including talking to the original contractor, Bob, who referred us). Finally, we got a hold of John on the phone. Suddenly he told us the work was actually going to cost us more (roughly an extra 25%). I'm inclined to acquiesce just so we are not dealing with him any more, but wanted to ask about the cleanest way to do it. He neither gave us a written estimate nor did he provide us with a written invoice. I'm concerned that if we send him payment without appropriate documentation, he will try to do something funny like demand extra payment or try to put a fraudulent mechanics lien. To make matters more concerning, we looked up his license number, and it turns out that his contractor license expired a while ago. What's the cleanest way to resolve the situation so that we protect ourselves from future shenanigans? (I also realize that even if he tries some frivolous legal action, even his case has no merit, we will have to incur attorney's fees, etc., just dealing with it.)

Asked on 4/25/16, 7:20 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Gary Redenbacher Redenbacher & Brown, LLP

Since he's unlicensed, you don't owe him a dime. If he gives you trouble, Contact the Contractors State License Board. If he threatens you, don't hesitate to contact the police and DA.

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Answered on 4/26/16, 8:17 am
Nick Campbell Builders Law Group

Tell him since he's an unlicensed contractor (and assuming the work and materials were $500 or more in value), he's not entitled to any compensation and that if he pursues it, you'll file a complaint with the CSLB. He was also required to give you a home improvement contract (again, assuming the work and materials were $500 or more in value) and not a "verbal estimate." Both are violations of home improvement contracting laws but under the former argument, he's not entitled to any compensation.

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Answered on 4/26/16, 10:59 am

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