Ever had to reposess an install job?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by JimLewis, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Anyone ever had to go back and repo. an install job because you didn't get paid? I am almost at that point with a customer.

    Here's the story. I signed a contract to install a sprinkler system for a rental home. The owners live in CA and I've never met them. I showed up initially to give the bid only to find out it wasn't a homeowner I was meeting to give a bid to, but their realtor. Now generally speaking, I never do work for anyone except the homeowner. I don't work for property management companies, no commercial work, no realtors, no third parties. That's my rule because in my experience, it often leads to problems. Well, I was foolish enough to break my own rule. It's winter and new sprinkler system installs are rare this time of the year here. And it just meant more revenue and more work for my guys. So, against my better instincts, I took the job. I still drew up a contract and had the owners sign it. And they sent me our usual 50% down. Terms being; 50% down and remainder due the day of completion.

    So we completed the system 1 day sooner than scheduled and installed a perfectly working system for them. When it came time to meet with the Realtor to sign off on the job, that's where problems began. It's a long story from that point. Lots of stupid drama. But what it boils down to is it's been a week now since we finished and still no word whether I am going to get that second half payment or not. The realtor won't return my phone calls. I did finally figure out the owners' phone number and called and talked with them yesterday. They assured me they'd call the realtor (turns out he's a close friend of theirs) and make sure I got paid. They were supposed to be calling me back yesterday and resolve all this. But big surprise, no call yet.

    Well, I am about a day or two away from having my crew go over and remove everything except the pipe. Thankfully, nobody is living at the house and we could go do a quick un-install in 1 day before anyone even knew what happened. I think I'd also have them remove 8 or 10 small sections of pipe in random spots as well. That way they couldn't pay some new contractor to just come in and install the missing parts. He'd have a mess on his hands and they'd end up paying for a whole new system.

    I just can't believe it's come to this. In 11 years, I've never had a job go South like this.

    And I am never dealing with another friggin' Realtor as long as I live. I must be some kind of stupid to have done it [yet again] in the first place.

  2. Flow Control

    Flow Control LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,267

    You must be living in La La land if that is your biggest problem. I understand your gripe, but you are not up shat creek yet.
  3. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    Seems like you may be panicking a little too soon. But I don't know the whole story either. I think they can press charges on you if you go back and take things out without going through the proper legal channels. At least that's what I've been told here.

    I am getting rid of the one property management company this winter. About 30-40 homes we took care of this year. 10-15 last year for them. Just too much of a headache. We always get paid, but it is difficult to deal with tenants. I have one other mngmt. comp. but they only have one home for us due to the owner requesting us. But I am getting rid of that one and almost all rentals this year. I have other people that own or or two as investments.

    I've never had a major problem with dealing with realtors, but I'm thinking of doing the same thing. They just act like they are above me, and inconvenienced by having to meet us there. I want to deal with the decision maker. The person who pays the bill. If I do accept credit cards next year, maybe I'll have to get that info first before dealing with the realtor.
  4. GradeMan

    GradeMan LawnSite Member
    from canada
    Posts: 214

    I would give it a little more time but i Would repo the material that is any good. Alot of people now are using realtors because of the no ties thing, They are the worse to work for. NEVER AGAIN>>
  5. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 297

    Just my .02 one week is not long to wait, many jobs I have waited 30 days especially with RE agents. If you tear up that system you will be the one in violation of the contract since you have recieved 50%. If things get nasty as it stands you can put a lien on the property or file a suit. If you tear up the system you will be the liable one plus how will that get any back of your lost time? I have done many jobs for RE and property agents and while they are never fast on paying I have never been stiffed.
  6. Dodge Truck

    Dodge Truck LawnSite Member
    from Mass
    Posts: 86

    Don't go digging it up yet, its to early to do that...yes its frustrating but you put yourself in this situation...worse comes to worse you go to court, you'll easily win
  7. Flow Control

    Flow Control LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,267

    Jim, I should give you a conference call tomorrow when I meet someone that has owed 6 figures since late May. And give you a % of what you can collect tomorrow.
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I know that's just business as usual for many other contractors. But it's just not how I do things, or ever have. I make it clear to each client our terms. It's explained verbally at the time I give the bid. It's explained again verbally at the time we sign the contract. It's written clearly in the contract. And I call them half-way through the project with an estimated time of completion and I set up a time for us to go through the job and "settle up" at that time as well. There really is no excuse. They knew what was expected and just wanted to jerk me around for some reason.

    Again, I think it comes back to Realtors thinking they can just dictate and run everything on their terms. As if I need their business or something. As if they have so much amazing business to hand out that I'd be foolish to not let them dickk me around and I should be kissing their arse because they're going to give me soooo much business in the future if I just bend over every time they ask. Well, sorry to break it to you - Realtors - I don't NEED your business. We did almost $1.5 mil. in revenues this year without any Realtors being involved except this one job. I think we'll survive without them, thank you very much.

    This thread was more of an angry rant, really. I was considering actually doing it. But I probably would have waited a little longer. Turns out he is meeting me tomorrow around lunch and he says he has the check in hand, ready to give to me. So we'll see about that. If that's true, then it just means I had to wait a week longer than I should have. But that's annoying, to say the least. Especially this time of year when cash-flow is much more tight.
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Holy Schnikes, man! 6 figures??? You gotta be kidding me. I guess that's a little hard to repo. I don't even want to know how you got that far into a job without being paid. I have never landed an install job that's 6 figures yet. But we have done some jobs that are over $50,000. With those, I always set it up so we get progress payments each week or at least payments after certain targets on the job are made. Last job we did like that, I got 25% down, 25% when we were 1/3 done, 25% more when we were 2/3 done, and a final payment the very day we finished.

    If I had taken a job that was $100,000, for example, I would have probably gotten 5 equal payments of $20,000. That way, at the end of the job, the most they could have screwed me for was the last $20,000. I know those kinds of terms are not generally accepted when you are doing commercial work. And that's one of the reasons I almost never do commercial work.

    Still, my heart goes out to ya, man. Holy crap! Something like that would put me under. I would have dedicated my life to making that person's life hell until I was paid in full.

    Every job I ever do we pretty much get paid for on the day we're done. Most jobs (under $15K) we get 50% down and the remaining 50% the very day we finish. Or if the customer can't meet that day, we meet the next morning and go over everything and get paid. 99.99% of the time, we are fully paid within a few hours of the time we finish a job. I guess I am just spoiled. But that's the way I run it. It just pisses me off when I've done everything that's expected of me, I made it clear what's expected of them, and then they don't take care of their end of the bargain.
  10. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 297

    I can see how that would make you angry since your expectations were clear. I think you are right to stay clear of RE and Property Managers and Developers if you wan't prompt payers. I also think you are right in the fact these groups of people are use to being pampered and are PITA's. Every noob in the buis goes after these guys thinking they bring a lot of work in. The worst cust I ever had was a cop who stiffed me $600 and told me her and her buddies would make my life a nightmare if I took actions to recover my money. For years I thought about doing a little midnight landscaping for her.

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