What can I do regarding a refund from my contractor?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do regarding a refund from my contractor?

I hired a contractor to remodel my 2 bathrooms. I paid $8,850 each installment – the 1st payment he was to purchase the granite for the countertops and the cabinets; the 2nd payment was due after demo. He demo’d the bathroom, had the plumbing done and had some sheet rock work done. He is now saying he can’t find workers and can’t finish the job. He never purchased the granite, cabinets or fixtures. I asked him to refund the remaining balance; he wants to pay installments. I can’t do that because I don’t have the money to restore my bathroom and he should have the remaining balance because he did not purchase the items.

Asked on June 25, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here: the legal and the practical:
1) Legally, he has to repay the money: he has breached his contract or agreement (even if it was an oral, rather than written one--though written ones are clearly better, since their existence and terms can be more easily proven) to do certain work in exchange for money. He can't keep your money without doing the work: he is in breach of contract, as stated; has been unjustly enriched (the law disapproves of taking another's money without providing a benefit); and, depending on his intentions (i.e. did he have any attention of taking your money without doing the work? did he lie about his abilty to do the work?) may have committed theft and/or fraud. There are several bases to recover you money.
2) Practically, IF he is telling the truth about being in financial distress, even if you sue him and win, you may not be able to get the money--a court judgment does not make money appear where there is none. And suing him will take time--several months at least--and cost you either your time (if you act as your own attorney or "pro se") or money (if you hire a lawyer). If he is willing to repay, you may wish to accept a repayment plan rather than go through the time/cost of suing since, even if you sue and win, if he doesn't have the money to pay you other than in installments, you will have gotten nothing.
(And while it would seem to be the case that he should have the money if he never purchased the granite, etc., if he is in financial distress, he may have spent the money on various bills, debts, taxes, etc.; or he may have spent it on gambling, drugs, alcohol; or on his lifestyle, living expenses, etc.--i.e. it is very plausible that he does not have the money.)
If you do enter into a payment plan, get it in writing to make it easier to sue over if he breaches it.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption