Bill Collection


LawnSite Senior Member
Blackstone, Va.
I did a lawn renovation for a lady 25 miles away this fall. It including tilling up her entire yard, reseeding, lime fertilizer, create/edge beds around home, $220 of mulch and planting of 10 rose bushes. The yard is in a very low swampy area and is always wet.

Well the total bill came up to just under $1,500 with $850 being materials/tractor use. This job was done October 15 and the lady just paid me $615.68 today. I have been in contact with her reminding her but she continues to start that she is not happy that her yard is still wet. The estimate had the exact phrase "surface tilling", NOT REGRADING!

She refuses to pay until I come back in the spring and level the entire yard which would require hauling many loads of dirt in. I am not willing to do this. I have been back twice, free of charge, with a drag and worked for several hours!

Not to mention, this was an insurance job as her well got struck by lightning and they has to redig a new well and thats why she got a new yard. So she has received the money but withholding it.

Everyone, please be completely honest and let me know how you would handle this situation. I appreciate anything as this has really been bothering me.



LawnSite Member
gatecity, va
I believe you have to make your customers happy, you must have good communication with them. In my belief you should have talked to her about what you was going to do and take notes, draw out a contract based on your notes and what you all talked about and have her sign it. One customer can give you bad "word of mouth advertisment. I think you will have some customers that you cant please no matter what you do, but you have to pick up on these types of people from the get go, with a contract signed they have no choice but to pay as long as you did what was listed. But, even though you do the work listed they make never be pleased and you get to reap there bad mouth advertisement.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Spring Hill, FL
You stated that you spelled out in the estimate that the job only included "surface tilling" so I would send her a certified letter requesting payment in full within a specific period of time. If she doesn't comply I'd take her ass to small claims court. Be sure to mention this in your certified letter.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Vancouver Canada
You could also put a Lien on her property. I'm not certain if your area uses a "mechanics Lien" or a "builders lien." Usually you can't recoup the filing costs on collections such as this. That could be a few hundred dollars depending on your local laws.

I would do a search of lien laws in your area. There may be a time sensative restriction on filing.

If she had a drainage problem and it was an insurance do the two things equate? Was the drainage problem there before she had her well repaired? How come so many plants had to be planted? I think I smell a fish?

Perhaps her insurance company has some answers for you?

A drainage problem has to be taken care of with drainage pipe and french drains and all of those methods that will remove water problems.

If you have drainage questions, go to the hardscape forum.
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LawnSite Silver Member
North East
As far as getting the money, if you feel that you completed the job as you originally told her you would. I would file a mechanics lien, I send out a letter of intent at 60 days letting the property owner know I intend to file the lien in 30 days. And that an additional $350 will be added to the lein for fileing and attorney fees. 9 times ut of 10 the customer calls to make arangements


LawnSite Bronze Member
Vancouver Canada
Local laws will vary...
For instance, we have to file a Lien within forty-five days of the invoice being issued.
That means the paperwork must be filed within fifteen days of our 30 days to pay rule. Also, many areas laws won't allow you to bill for Lawyer fees or filing fees.