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A contractor I referred to my customer verbally agreed to pay me when work was done and did not. Can I collect in Small Claims?

Vacaville, CA |

I work with homeowners doing energy audits and we often times have jobs that require an approved contractor so we refer the work to these contractors after interviewing them and getting buy off on the terms. This is typically we do any HERS I Compliance rating and we get the greater of $1200 or 5% of the contract for preparing the documentation get secure the Energy Upgrade California rebate for the homeowner. A task the contractor is supposed to do but that we include do when we do an audit. We have worked with about 8 general contractors on multiple jobs and up until now everyone has paid as agreed without a signed contract. Aside from filing a small claims action what other methods do I have to get them to pay?

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Attorney answers 2


You may be able to record a mechanic's lien on the property but you'll need to consult with an attorney to ensure the work you provide entitles you to this form of remedy. Civil Code Section 3110 lists those persons who are entitled to record a mechanic’s lien, with the catch-all phrase being “all persons and laborers of every class performing labor upon or bestowing skill or other necessary services on, or furnishing materials or leasing equipment to be used or consumed in or furnishing appliances, teams, or power contributing to a work of improvement.”

The breadth of the list is intentional; every person supplying labor, equipment, or materials to a construction project is equally in need of protection from unscrupulous or insolvent general contractors or property owners who, but for the threat of a foreclosure sale, may be inclined not to pay for the work performed or supplies provided.

Legal disclaimer: This reply is provided for information purposes only and does not represent legal advice or an attorney-client relationship.


I agree with the other attorney that a mechanic's lien may be available. I also recommend drafting a written agreement to use in the future. There is no sense continuing to make verbal agreements which are often ambiguous if this is a regular course of business. Also be mindful of the statute of limitation for an oral contract which is generally two years. (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 339.) This means that you must bring your claim within two years of the breach.

This reply is provided for information purposes only and does not represent legal advice or an attorney-client relationship.

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