I get many contractors who call me with a similar question. They want to know how to deal with home or building owners that come to them 60%, 70% or 80% of the way through a remodeling or specialty job and announce that they want to re-negotiate the price of the contract. “They claim our price is too high and they aren’t going to pay me.” One specialty contractor told me he had 3 jobs in a row where the owners told him after the work was done that they weren’t going to pay him because they thought he overcharged them. Three in a row. How do you deal with that?

Assuming you are working from a good contract, faithfully negotiated under the laws of good faith and fair dealing, you should be able to collect your money.

First, remember that your customers are getting this nonsense from their friends and buddies or the media. Who knows what shade tree lawyer they have talked with? It never seems to dawn on them that this is dishonest. (I wonder how many people sign a contract, take a car home, then try to re-negotiate the price with the dealership?)

Regardless of where it comes from, you do not want to get into the loop of this argument. If you, as the construction business owner, have a good contract, when if you hear this from the customer you should simply say, “Let’s see what the contract says about your payment schedule and the price of this job.” You do not argue with them for any reason.

If your contract is clear, no loose ends, and you quoted a firm price quotation with your contract payment schedule spelled out, what is there to argue about? Tell them, “You signed an agreement, we did our part and we will expect you to do your part. If you don’t, then we will consider you in default of the contract and take appropriate action to collect the monies due.” Now you have stated your case, politely but firmly. Don’t say any more.

They may huff and puff, snort a bit, make a few idle threats, throw in some Hoo Raw, but you should just smile and walk away. In most cases they will see that being dishonest will garner them far more grief than any money saved will offset, and they will pay you.

If they don’t pay and on time, shut the job down and let them know that they have 24 – 48 hours to get their payments current or you will, again, take such action as necessary to collect the monies due. If they don’t pay, file your lien and hand it to your attorney with instructions to collect. You do not want to nor should you waste time trying to justify your contract price or dealing with dishonest people. All you get when you wrestle with pigs is mud all over you.

And don’t worry about referrals from these people, as the referrals you get from them might be the very people who put them up to this BS to begin with.

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