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Can I withhold partial payment to a contractor if I needed to hire a second contractot to repair and finish their work?

Tucson, AZ |

11 months ago I hired a company to install a sola rpower system on my house. 10 months and two failed inspections by the utility later, I hired another company to complete the work. The second company discovered and documented more than 20 safety and code violations in the intial installation work. I would like to deduct the cost ($9K) of repairs from the total I stil owe the original contractors ($16K).

Should I pay the undisputed amount and withhold the rest? Or withhold all of it until they agree to a reduced payment? Or payt it all and try to recover damages? How should I notify the original company of my intent?

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Attorney answers 1


Much is going to depend upon the contract that you have with the initial contractor. I would need to examine the contract before I was able to offer a more definitive opinion. I would recommend that you hire an attorney to send a letter to the contractor explaining that you will be withholding the balance of the money since the new contractor must be retained. The attorney could certainly advise the original contractor that if he demands payment or her files a lawsuit against you for nonpayment that you will file a counterclaim against him alleging fraud, negligence and violations of your state's consumer protection laws. Most state's consumer protection statutes provide for the recovery of double or triple damages in addition to payment of attorney's fees by the contractor.

Conversely, there are times when our advice to our clients is to pay the balance and then immediately sue the contractor. As I said earlier, a review of the contract or agreement between you and the original contractor is necessary in order to provide a more comprehensive opinion.

Peter J. Lamont, Esq. Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont 623 Lafayette Avenue, Suite 2, Hawthorne, NJ 07506 Phone: (973) 949-3770 Fax: (866) 603-0471 Toll Free: (855) NJLAW01 (855) 655-2901 Additional Offices in Massapequa, NY, Monument, CO, San Juan, PR and affiliates throughout the country. PLEASE NOTE: The above statements are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained on this site without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

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