August 2020 - Wyman Legal Solutions

3 Tips: How to Have a Home Improvement Project that Doesn’t Suck

We get so many calls from people who are struggling to get their home improvement project finished.

*          The project is taking way too long.

*          The job is costing way more than they thought it would.

*          The work is sloppy and looks terrible.

*          There’s a lien on their house from a company they’ve never even heard of.

Basically, they have a home improvement project that sucks.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you are thinking of starting a home improvement project, here are three tips on how you can have a home improvement project that does not suck:

   1. Hire a contractor that doesn’t suck.

Here are the obvious things to look for:

*          license, insurance

*          lawsuits in the public records of your county and the counties on either side of yours

*          licensing complaints (use this link to check):

And here’s what else you should know:

*          Don’t always hire the cheapest person. If you get a really low price, that may be a sign that your contractor is missing something important, is desperate for work or inexperienced.

*          Know what you want BEFORE you call a contractor. An educated consumer is the best consumer.

*          If your contractor shows up late, is bad at listening or returning calls when he’s trying to sell you your job, then he will be even worse once you sign and pay him money.

   2. Sign a contract that doesn’t suck.

*          Make sure your contract contains everything the contractor promised. If it’s not in the contract, don’t expect that you will get it.

*          If the contract contains something you don’t understand, call a lawyer!

*          Make sure the contract has a clear and fair payment schedule. Try to hold as much of the money as you can until the project is finished and passes inspections.

*          Require permits, even if it costs you extra.


   3. Manage your project so it doesn’t suck.

*          Pay attention to the work so that you are not paying for work that has not been done.

*          Review every piece of mail you get that looks like an official notice of some kind.

*          Obtain a lien release every time a payment is made.

*          Get a contractor’s final payment affidavit before you make the last payment.

*          Obtain a list of subcontractors and suppliers.


This is just some of the advice our experienced construction lawyers give our clients.  Even better, our construction lawyers are available to help you have a construction project that doesn’t suck. Call us today at (561) 361-8700 to find out how.




Why You Need a Lawyer Case Study #2: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You…

We have a client that is a professional engineer. We will call him Edgar. Edgar does great work. High quality. Reasonably priced. And Edgar is a sweetheart of a guy to deal with.

About 4 years ago, Edgar was sued along with about a dozen other contractors and subcontractors for some alleged construction defects on a big project. At that time, Edgar did not have a lawyer in his corner that he could discuss this lawsuit with. And that is unfortunate.

Because even though Edgar had insurance that could have paid for a lawyer to defend him and could have paid in the event Edgar is responsible for any of the defects, Edgar did not tell his insurance company about this lawsuit.

Edgar did not know that his insurance policy required prompt notice of claims.

Instead, Edgar wrote to the lawyer representing the property owner and explained in detail why Edgar was not responsible for the problems the owner was experiencing. Having heard nothing further, Edgar assumed the case was closed. Edgar did not know that it was a bad idea to have communications directly with the lawyer who represents somebody who is suing you.

The case was not closed.

And when Edgar and I met about two years later, he casually mentioned these court documents he kept receiving “even though I am out of the case”. So I looked into the case, and sure enough the case was still going strong. And Edgar was very much still “in the case”, even though no lawyer had been hired to look out for his interests during the first two years of litigation. Edgar did not know that a lawsuit needs a timely response with the court to avoid potentially being defaulted.

Edgar hired us to defend him in the lawsuit and also to obtain coverage for the claim from his insurance company. But by then it was too late.

Edgar did not know that by failing to promptly notify his carrier, he would lose all of the coverage for which he had been paying premiums for years.

Had Edgar had our business lawyer on retainer plan when he was sued, Edgar could have simply called us or emailed us the lawsuit and we would have helped him give the proper, timely notice to his insurance company. In fact, under our Business Lawyer on Retainer Plans, we offer to serve as your company’s Registered Agent so that we receive notice of all lawsuit and legal claims before you do. Edgar did not know about our Business Lawyer on Retainer plans.

Edgar did not know that this one simple mistake would end up costing him tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees and potential exposure to liability for the defects. Luckily for you, you receive these emails and you know that for as little as $10 PER DAY, you could have a trusted business and legal advisor in your corner to handle these issues for you when they come up. Call our office at (561) 361-8700 to sign up for our Business Lawyer on Retainer Access Plan today.



Why You Need a Lawyer: Case Study #1: Mitch Digs a Deep Hole

Mitch Digs a Deep Hole

We have a client we’ll call “Mitch”. Mitch lives in Pennsylvania but owns property in Palm Beach County. Mitch had some work done to his Florida condo. Did Mitch hire a lawyer to look at his contract before he signed it? No.

As with lots of improvement projects, this one did not go quite as Mitch had planned. Did Mitch hire a lawyer to find out how to properly put the contractor on notice of the problems? No.

The contractor finished the job but Mitch felt the job had mistakes. Mitch didn’t pay the contractor the last $8,000 under his contract. Did Mitch hire a lawyer to see if he had the right to withhold this payment? No.

The contractor stopped communicating with Mitch, filed a lien and sued Mitch to foreclose on the lien. Did Mitch hire a lawyer to represent him in this lawsuit? No.

Mitch then negotiated a settlement with his contractor’s attorney where Mitch was now going to pay $13,000 (because now he was also paying for the contractor’s attorneys’ fees) and he still was not getting the work fixed. Then Mitch signed a settlement agreement that did not include enough detail about the documents Mitch should have received in exchange for this payment. Did Mitch hire a lawyer to negotiate this settlement or to make sure that it was written so that he received the proper documentation he would otherwise have been entitled to? No.

Mitch then withheld payment of the agreed-upon $13,000 because he later realized he was not getting the right documents (even though Mitch didn’t properly negotiate for the right documents). Did Mitch consult with a lawyer before he withheld this payment? No.

Mitch was then in default of his settlement agreement and that entitled the contractor to obtain a final judgment against him and for the contractor’s attorney to claim more attorneys’ fees. The lawyer filed a motion for final judgment and now wanted a judgment for $15,000 and a final judgment of lien foreclosure. Mitch was going to lose his condo. Did Mitch call a lawyer when he now realized he was digging himself a deeper and deeper hole?

You are damn right he did. He called me.

Because Mitch had reached a written settlement agreement with the lawyer, we were unable to go back and undo it. By signing a written settlement agreement, Mitch obligated himself to pay more money than was necessary and lost his right to challenge the quality of the contractor’s work. However, I was able to get the lawyer to accept only an additional $400 instead of an additional $2,000 in fees for Mitch’s breach of the Settlement Agreement. We also got Mitch the documents he was entitled to.

There were at least 6 opportunities for Mitch to have hired a lawyer that would have saved him money. Had Mitch hired a lawyer at the first (or even second) opportunity, his condo would not still need more work.

Teaming up with a knowledgeable lawyer BEFORE problems arise saves money and relieves stress. If you are considering a home improvement project, call us at (561) 361-8700 so one of our construction attorneys can properly protect you.