I don't understand. He could potentially get money that I already paid the contractors?
In looking at your question again, I first assumed that he had paid you the money and you turned around and gave it to the contractors and now you just want to get paid for your involvement. In reading the question again, I'm assuming that you paid the contractor and want to be reimbursed by your friend. My argument is still the same. In my view, you crossed a line when you paid the contractor; your friend should have paid them directly. You might have been able to argue you were simply acting as a "construction manager" but for two reasons I don't think that's a good defense for you: (1) you paid the contractor, that takes you out of the realm of being a construction manager; and (2) although I suspect several other construction attorneys might disagree with me, I believe a recent change in the law defining contractors now means that construction managers likely need a license. Unlicensed contractors are not entitled to compensation under Business & Professions Code 7031. "Compensation" in this instance means any money collected from the project owner, even if it was for labor, materials, equipment, money paid to "subcontractors" and no matter how well the project was built. Under that section and relevant case law, if you were deemed by the court to be functioning as an unlicensed contractor, any money that was "paid" to you, even if you turned around and paid it to the contractors working on the project, would be deemed "compensation" and he could sue you for reimbursement of ALL that money. Under the facts as you've presented them, I believe you would have needed to be licensed and if I'm right, you wouldn't be entitled to any money whatsoever.