Legal Question in Construction Law in California

I live in California and recently purchased a home. My neighbors were getting cement work done in the backyard and vouched for the person so I hired him as well only knowing his name and phone number. He stated he needed half the money upfront $3000 and $3500 remaining after completion. I payed him half the money and he finished the work and I payed him the rest. I wasn't home most of the time he did the work in the backyard. Its been 2 weeks since finishing and I received a letter from a cement company which I never knew he even used saying I owe them $1100 for pouring cement at my house. They stated he subcontracted them out and I owe them since he never paid them and they can put a lien on my home. I did not sign anything with them.. the guy who did the cement is evading my calls. On the paperwork for the lien they do not have my name, just my address and his first name (no last name ) and his phone number. Am I liable?

Asked on 10/03/18, 10:07 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Gary Redenbacher Redenbacher & Brown, LLP

For the concrete (cement is one ingredient in concrete) company to successfully record and enforce a lien, they had to first serve you with a 20-day preliminary notice by certified mail. If it has been less than 20 days since they poured the concrete, they could still serve the 20-day notice and then record and enforce the lien. If no 20-day notice is properly served on you, then the concrete company has no right to foreclose any lien they might record. If the concrete company records a lien without having served a 20-day notice, you can eventually have it removed from your title. You will likely need a lawyer to do this for you. The good news is that you are entitled to be reimbursed for your attorney's fees by the concrete company if your lawyer has to force the lien off title.

As a practical matter, even if the concrete company serves you with a 20-day notice and records a lien, they probably won't foreclose (sue) on the lien. This is because they can't properly sue in small claims court and the cost to enforce the lien in Superior Court will far exceed the $1100 they are out.

Politely tell the concrete company that their contract is with the contractor, not you. If they wish to be paid, they need to chase the contractor.

BTW - File a complaint with the Contractors State License Board. They might be willing to chase this guy down. For that matter, if he is contracting without a license, and doing to others what he's done to you, the district attorney may want to get involved. Contracting without a license is a crime.

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Answered on 10/04/18, 8:13 am

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