First screw of the year! Filing a lien need help.

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by kandklandscape, Sep 16, 2007.

  1. kandklandscape

    kandklandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 341

    Have a customer that thinks we must be dumb or something?

    Job was to dig out lawn and level it to make it level so they can put a boat on the lawn... we did so.

    Well about 4 hours into the job, we hit a retaining wall that was 3 feet into the ground. In order to make the lawn level, we had to remove the lawn. We always put in the contract how many hours it will be to do the work, and also if we are to go over the hours, then we will be paid more. Well we went over 16 hours because of the new slope/level of the lawn that we were installing. Also it took 9.5 hours to take the wall out. (hauling, labor, bobcat etc)
    We then needed 4 tons of topsoil because the existing earth was all clay.

    So we have 16 HRS extra labor, plus 9.5 with bobcat, 2 laborers and hauling. Extra cost was $750.... plus 310 from previous balance. So $1060 total. Well she wrote a check out for $400 and said that is it until Tuesday until we talk more. I was at her house for 1.5 hours trying to figure out what was going on. Our bobcat operator hit a second wall, showing the customer this she said do not take it out because of the extra work involved. Before we knew about the wall, he hit the wall and the bobcat must have went under the rock and knocked him back up and he hit the deck that is like 2 in away from the wall. Of course we can not help this. He chipped a 2x8 and a 6x6 what that is about $30 IF that? We offered to repair the boards and stain them, she said fine. Now she changes her mind.

    Anyways, like saying before I was at her house for 1.5 hrs explaining the bill and due to the overages. She was just like so pissed at me! I told her AND showed her in our contract it states that if we hit any hard rock, stone, walls etc that additional costs will be added to the final bill. OK where does it state that you do not have to pay it lol.

    So her husband called and said we will send a check out for $38.25 and thats it and we are filing a lawsuit for hitting our deck. Dude it is $40 I mean the most if a deck installer would charge if he came out it would be $300! Plus our insurance would pay for it anyways.

    We are sending a certified letter given 10 days to pay the bill, then we are filing a lien and taking her to the District Magistrate. In our state, that is the procedure.

    I NEVER filed a lien, only went to magistrate. SO where do I go to file a lien? What info do I need for the state of PA.....? In 05 we had 25k of unpaid invoices from customers, we never filed liens, just took them to the DJ.

    My ? is how do we file a lien, of course they will sue us for the deck, but really does not matter since we have insurance.
  2. kandklandscape

    kandklandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 341

    NOTE to previous thread, we have always took them to the DJ.... about 5k was paid and the rest wasnt. Of course it is my dumb fault we never proceeded. However we are not taking no more crap so we want to make sure this is taken care of by pushing a lien. Lien will make them pay for sure. I think it hurts your credit. These are also folks in there 30's one guy is a postal worker! They have to be able to afford it. even though his wife said we cant but we can, dont get that?
  3. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,369

    Might want to consider finding yourself a law firm if you have 25K of outstanding bills. It don't cost you anything....they let their low level starter people handle these kind of problems for practice.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    That's like if you take your car to the mechanic for a cylinder head job that's supposed to run $350, then they run into problems and have to rebuild the whole engine, they then call you to tell you it is fixed, and the bill is 1060...
    How would you react?

    Around here we're not allowed to exceed the original estimate by more than 10 or 15 percent without explicit customer approval (and I'm not sure which so assume 10%... Not sure but certainly never more than 15%, not without the customer's knowledge).
    Unfortunately written contracts to the effect of 'anything we run into that costs extra you agree to pay' do not override the law, and I would check the laws in your state before taking things further, thus I also recommend contacting an attorney.
  5. kandklandscape

    kandklandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 341

    We have been threw this before, just not with a lien. Already know the laws.

    The previous 25 k some has been collected, rest went to the magistrate, and then to collections.
  6. Eric D

    Eric D LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    I really have no idea how to file a lien in PA. However, reading through your posting where you stated “I was at her house for 1.5 hours explaining the bill” doesn’t seem to be the appropriate time to be hitting the customer with overage cost. As soon as the retainer wall was found would have been the right time to contact the customer and have the contract revised with a range of possible overage. Pick a range that you fill will more then cover the overage and then look like a hero when you charge a lesser number then you quoted in the revised contract. People tend to fight a bill when they feel they are getting screwed.

    Hey, just my humble opinion.
  7. kandklandscape

    kandklandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 341

    When something like this happens, we always show the customer what happened before we do anything else, always tell them it will be additional cost as well. Of course who knows if it will take 1 Hr or 5. We thought it was 2 blocks high to make lawn level, turned out to be 4....
  8. andrewcarrigan

    andrewcarrigan LawnSite Member
    from alberta
    Messages: 30

    always get a signed change order before moving forward!!!!!!
  9. lawnscapesLLC

    lawnscapesLLC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 113

    Easiest way would be to get a lawyer and have them do it, this way you know that all the t's are crossed and the I's are dotted. Won't see any money till they "try" and sell the house tho.

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