What Can a Remodeling Contractor Do When a Client Won't Pay?

Working as a contractor typically means you have control over your own schedule. If you perform remodeling services, whether you upgrade the tiling or update plumbing, you may have the luxury of selecting your clients and the projects that most interest you. Most people who operate their own businesses and are effectively self-employed do everything in their power to satisfy their customers.

Unfortunately, some people are never happy. These individuals could include perfectionists, who will find a flaw even with the most immaculate job. You can also receive intense scrutiny from scam artists who never intended to pay for the work. When that happens, you may have to take legal action to receive the payment you are due for the work you performed.

Reviewing the terms in your contract can help

Many remodeling professionals and contractors don't start to use written contracts until they first encounter a dispute or issue. A client refusing to pay is a common reason for contractors to start using written contracts.

If you have a written contract, you should review it carefully. There are likely specific terms set for your performance, as well as for payment. Provided that the job you did meets the standards outlined in the contract, your client should pay you as you agreed.

If a client claims that you did substandard work or used sub-par materials, you may have to provide receipts that document which materials you actually purchased and installed. You may also need to submit photographs of the project to prove that you completed it as requested.

If you don't have a written contract, you can still successfully seek the payment you are due. You and the client likely agreed on a price. It may have been a verbal contract, or you may have communicated about it via text message or email. Any written communication acknowledging a price can help. However, it is also possible to enforce a verbal contract for services.

Sometimes, you have to take a non-paying client to court

Most contractors and small businesses that do remodeling have relatively small profit margins. In other words, a significant portion of what you charge a client is something you already paid for materials and tools. When clients don't pay you, you aren't just out the time that you invested in the project. You also lose out on any materials that you purchased for the work.

Pursuing payment in full is a wise decision, as it helps you recoup the financial investment you made in the project and establish yourself as a professional who expects professional treatment and compensation. Talking with an attorney who understands contract law in Florida as it relates to remodeling a home can help you determine the best strategy to get paid when a client isn't forthcoming with your money.