Canadian Contractor

First year painting contractor asks if she’s getting ripped off. We say not necessarily.

Bonnie is a rookie painting contractor finding it tough to get GCs to pay her on 3 jobs that she didn't finish.

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March 15, 2018 by canadiancontractor

A post this week from a rookie painting contractor…

We are dealing with two situations right now where we were subcontracted to complete painting work for two different contractors and in both scenarios the majority of the work was completed but payment is not being provided.

Contractor 1 hired us to do an exterior job. We did the bulk of the work including added work that the homeowner requested on site. However, because of site restrictions the work was unable to be completed, not just by us but at all. We have still not been paid for the work that was completed. What is our course of action here?

We were working with Contractor 2 on multiple jobs. They called us when we had moved onto another job site not associated with this contractor. They called us to complain that we would not go back to a job that was previously completed – we could not add more work at that moment. They threatened us with bodily harm and have now since refused to even communicate with us about the completion and payment of a previous job that was 90 per cent complete. What can we do here? We’ve tried reaching out by email, phone, text with no replies. We received a deposit only but that covered only about 25 per cent of the total project costs. This is taking thousands of dollars out of our pockets and this is our first year so it makes a large impact on our bottom line to lose out on payment for these jobs that we did complete the work for.


Editor’s Reply:

Bonnie, it’s tough when you are in your first year of contracting and you run into cash flow problems. We’ve all been there.

However, I am not sure you are doing everything you can to help your own cause. Yes, we understand you feel ripped off. But let’s look at the facts you gave us.

Contractor 1: You did not complete the work. That’s all anyone needs to know. This is a very good reason why you have not been paid. We understand there were some “site restrictions.” But you still need to understand that the GC is not going to get paid by the owner for YOUR work if you left it undone – and, worse, you say that lots of other work wasn’t completed either, from other trades. So it’s almost guaranteed that your GC is awaiting payment themselves. Tough life lesson. The only way to get paid is to (a) communicate fully with the GC that you want to complete the work (b) do so as early as possible. Then you can either get paid, or start proceedings to get paid including liening the property. Right now you haven’t finished your work there. Clean up your side of the street first.

Contractor 2: Now this sounds very much like you hadn’t completed two additional jobs. GC 2 calls you, angrily, and the source of his anger is apparently that you refuse to go back to a previous job. At least that’s the way you described it. And then you tell us additionally that a job previous to THAT one wasn’t completed for GC either. And now a word about those alleged “threats of bodily harm.” Well, no excuse for that from GC 2. If you actually were threatened physically and he wasn’t just yelling at you and calling you names, call the cops. Right now. If you feel physically unsafe, don’t even hesitate for 30 seconds, go to law enforcement. (BTW, if you report threats of violence to the cops, you lose control of what the cops do. You are reporting a crime. They are going to visit him. They have to. Once you’ve reported a crime, it’s out of your hands how the investigation proceeds.)

But let’s return to the Getting Paid stuff. You told us about three jobs in your post, not one of which was completed, and not one of which you’ve been paid for. The lessons are right there for you in that single sentence. We do empathize, but finishing what you start is job #1 for any rookie contractor, no matter how difficult it can be. Good luck and let us know what happens. Stay safe.



Canadian Contractor is the independent voice of residential renovators and home builders everywhere in Canada.
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