We make custom wood doors among other items. I've recently received an e-mail from a homeowner about a lockset that "has been installed improperly". We built and installed the door about a year and a half ago. Our warranty is for one year, but three months after install the home owner did call to say there was a problem with the lock We checked and everything seemed fine. At that point, the home owner had already fired the GC and owed him $40,000 and was also refusing to pay the architect. A week later, the home owner e-mailed again to say the lock was not working and that we hadn't completed other work. That "other work" was not in our contract. I did not respond to the second e-mail. Now, a year later, the home owner says the lock was installed incorrectly and is threatening to sue for the value of the door, his time to deal with it, etc. How should I respond or should I ignore him and let him sue if he wants?
He is doing the same with other trades. I've been to small claims court before and, although I like to think I won in both instances, it is a process where no one wins. My contract and paperwork are both in the contractor's name but the cheques were coming directly from the home owner. I'm not sure if that means my contract is with the contractor or home owner.
Ask the homeowner to specifically describe what is wrong with the latch, and why they think it is installed wrong, Do this in writing, by email. Then go out and take care of it, making sure they are there and you can show them if/when it is working properly. Have a work order with letterhead, job name, problem, etc on it with "Work Complete" on it in big letters with a signature line next to it. Have them sign it once it is operating to their satisfaction. Send them a copy of that doc. Tip your hat and move on.
Based on your post, this guy is not going to go away and you will not be able to appease him, no matter what you do.
Your right that no one wins in a lawsuit.
If he will agree to sign a release, if you adjust the lock, then maybe. If he balks in any way about that, I would spend money to have an attorney advise me.
I have been down this road and some people cannot be pleased.
Small claims is a waste of time, unless you want to lose. Having your attorney place the dispute into the higher courts, where it will cost you and him money, is the better action, because he will likely not go there.
Until someone actually files a lawsuit, there is no lawsuit. What is the ratio of threatened lawsuits to actual lawsuits?
Your post doesn't say whether or not you have been paid yet. If you have, I would verify that what the homeowner says is true. If not, what is the burden of proof that a lockset is improperly installed? Will you need some arbirator from Baldwin to look at the door?
I would run all of this by an attorney. It sounds like your contract is with the GC, and if he has been fired, where does that leave you, contractually speaking? Your warranty is still valid.
In any diagnostic evaluation and corrective measure flowchart, the first step is almost always "Verify the problem". You should do that, without succumbing to the bluff and bluster of your contractors client. If there is a problem, fix it and have him sign off on it. If there is no problem and the client is being an anal sphincter, walk away. Especially if you have been paid.
Perhaps you could refer this person back to his general contractor, with whom he has a contract.
First, always reply to your customers, dont leave them hanging.
Second, just go take care of it. Yeah the guy is a jerk, swing by take 10 -15 minutes and fix it if its broke wiggle it if its not and call it good. Its easier to just take care of it than all this other stuff. Run it by your attorney? Sure, thats a great idea, that will cost you more money and time than just fixing it.
Yep. Call them back, look at the lock, see what you can do, and give them the truth.
One of our employees has the rotation of the punch lists daily and they either hate them or covet them. Seems like just showing our face on the job is sometime 2/3 of the battle and its always some ridiculous item
The idea of an attorney is more to determine where one stands relative to a contract with a corporation that is no longer in the supply chain.
I don't think that this requires a $300 an hour consultation, as there are attorneys that will do initial consultations for free.
It also seems a violation of protocol that the homeowner would contact a subcontractor directly, rather than deal with them through their contractor. Probably because they have been fired and are owed money. I think it speaks to what kind of individual this homeowner is.
These things happen, and it never hurts to know what your options and obligations are, so that you are more fully prepared to deal with all the possible ramifications of the situation, in real time and face to face.
As a practical solution, I stand by my statement:
"In any diagnostic evaluation and corrective measure flowchart, the first step is almost always "Verify the problem". You should do that, without succumbing to the bluff and bluster of your contractors client. If there is a problem, fix it and have him sign off on it. If there is no problem and the client is being an anal sphincter, walk away. Especially if you have been paid. "
I always try to keep my customers happy. I have had drawer slides malfunction well after the one year mark. I just replace them. If it is obvious that someone has hammered the item then I tell them so, tell them what it will cost then fix it. My guess that replacing the mechanism will be far less costly than any other option. and yes get everything in writing/email
The homeowner is the contractor and since you are a sub you can be sued by the homeowner. Your door installation work and lock install is delivered through the general contractor to the overall contractor, being the homeowner.
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