I took a call from a specialty contractor that I know. He said, “Michael, a general contractor that I did work for just called and asked me to send him a lien release on a job that I did a couple of weeks ago. If I do that, he will send a check for what he owes me.”

Sounds good, right?

I’m not so sure. My suspicion is that the general contractor is having financial problems, and the owner won’t pay him until he provides lien releases from all his subs on this job. I don’t know this for sure, but I have seen it enough times that my suspicions were instantly aroused when I heard this.

My response was, “Tell him you will meet him at the job site and sign his lien release when he hands over your check for the full payment. Then take that check directly to the bank and cash it.” With this, he will find out real quick why he is suddenly being asked for a lien release that was never discussed before.

Maybe I am overly suspicious simply because I have seen this before and the sub either never gets the check or only gets partial payment with some BS excuse about why the general can’t pay in full. But, as my friend said, this approach by the general is not only rude, it is offensive. Either way, these kinds of details should be worked out between a general and a sub long before a job starts – not weeks after the sub has completed their work.

What do you think?

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