How to collect money owed by contractor to a homeowner?

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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