How to collect money owed by contractor to a homeowner?

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How to collect money owed by contractor to a homeowner?

Last year as part of a remodel, a 3 season room was turned into a heated 4 season room. The unit did not adequately heat the room during the winter and I relayed the information to the contractor. After his plumber told him the unit was adequate and I disagreed, the contractor agreed to have the electrician install baseboard heat to supplement. The contractor said he’d assume the cost. After months of unreturned voicemails, e-mails, and texts, I ran into him at a store at which time he promised to mail me a check for $300 to cover the cost to install electric heat. Do I have a small claims case?

Asked on September 15, 2011 under Business Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there was an agreement that the contractor would pay or reimburse part of the cost, that agreement is enforceable. It is even enforceable if it was an oral or verbal agreement, though obviously an oral or verbal agreement can be difficult to prove if the other side remembers events differently. However, that is a matter of practicality, not of the law--legally, the agreement is enforceable. For the amount of money you describe, small claims court is probably your best option: the cost of an attorney, such as you'd likely need to represent you in a different court, would exceed what you hope to recover. In small claims court, however, you can effectively represent yourself, known as being "pro se," and just have to pay a small filing fee. Good luck.


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