Legal Rights Against GC

2 Replies | Chicago, Illinois

Hello,

I recently had a major plumbing project done on my multi-unit building. I signed a contract at the beginning with a GC that was more general than I wanted considering the large price tag, but he kept saying that he couldn't make it more specific until they busted up the concrete to see what was really going on (lots of unknowns due to age and character of building). No need to highlight that I never should have signed--I am aware and there is a HUGE back story as to why I did that is not significant to the question at hand.

Due to frequent flooding, we were planning to have an overhead sewer line installed, as well as a sump pit for the basement plumbing, an ejector pit for the upstairs/exterior water that was leading to the flooding, and tying in the downspouts to the mainline at the front exterior of the house underground.

The project, which was estimated to last about 15-20 days, took more like 10-11 full days. Along the way the GC and subcontracted plumber mentioned numerous times that they found great news or thought of more efficient solutions (i.e. the mainline plumbing under the basement was intact--that they had assumed was all broken and needed replacing). In the end, due to the "great news" they found, they ended up not installing an overhead sewer line or digging out front to attach the downspouts to the mainline in front of our house, but instead, redirected some of the existing piping and doing an edited version of the proposed plan that more heavily used the intact mainline under the house.

The end result has seemed to be a resolution to the problem (so the ultimate purpose of the work was achieved), but with what I would estimate to be about 50-70% of the total proposed work. We are now in debates with the GC that he should update his pricing based on how much the scope of work changed. If you read the signed contract there are a number of elements that no longer apply and that they did not do (because it was unneeded). We have payed 80%+ of the balance, but he is fighting that we need to pay the full initial rate that we signed on even though the details of the contract are inaccurate and he never sent any written Addendum to the contract for changes in work (he just went ahead and made the executive decision about adjustments without checking with us first). He is now threatening a lien if we do not make the final/full payment.

What are my rights? Are we locked into paying the initial contracted amount since we signed the document? Is he able to put a lien on our property without having to justify his claim? Advice on how to respond?

"What are my rights? Are we locked into paying the initial contracted amount since we signed the document? Is he able to put a lien on our property without having to justify his claim? Advice on how to respond?"

 Your rights: You have a right to the best lawyer you can afford to pay.

Locked in?: Maybe. Ask the best lawyer you can afford to pay.

Lien ability: Maybe/Probably. Whether he can justify it at trial is another matter.

Advice on responding: Engage the best lawyer you can afford to pay.

@Blair Matejak The only question I can answer w/o being an lawyer and reading the agreement you signed is yes, he can put a lien on your building, with or without reason. Then he'll have to initiate foreclosure proceedings to enforce the lien within 2 years, at which point you can argue if he breached the contract. OR, you can sue him to obligate him to initiate those proceedings and he must start foreclosure within 30 days.

Don't make the final payment w/o speaking with a lawyer first.