Saint Louis, MO asked in Construction Law and Contracts for Missouri

Q: Roofer took 9,000 down payment in Nov’21 signed a contract & roof wasn’t done until Nov 2022 Is the contract still valid

He used our money for his own purposes & then couldn’t afford to replace it, fed me lie after lie, I chased him down for a year. His dad finally loaned him the money so I wouldn’t press charges. I paid for all materials/labor. Finished the roof a year later Nov 2022. Now he wants to be paid $4000. Do I have to give him money after he stole mine & never put a dime of his own into the job? He, all subcontractors and supply companies signed unconditional lien wavers.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Ronald J. Eisenberg
PREMIUM
Ronald J. Eisenberg
Answered
  • Chesterfield, MO
  • Licensed in Missouri

A: Your contract governs. I think you misstated something. You claim that you entered into the contract in November 2021 and he finished the work in November 2022. We are only in early April 2022. Although it took longer than expected for him to finish the roof, unless you’ve suffered financial damages from the delay, I’m not sure of your basis for believing you needn’t pay for the work done. Also, even if you received a lien waiver, that doesn’t prevent a suit for breach of contract.

Robert Grant Pennell agrees with this answer

Robert Grant Pennell
Robert Grant Pennell
Answered
  • Manchester, MO
  • Licensed in Missouri

A: As usual, Mr. Eisenberg is correct - the contract governs. You state the initial $9k paid was a down payment, but what was the originally agreed-upon price? You also state that you paid for all of the materials. Was that the original understanding or something that you arrived at to get the work completed. The reason I ask these questions is to clarify what you actually owe for the remaining work since the $9k was a down payment.

I can certainly appreciate your frustration with having to chase this guy down as well as the delay in getting the work finished. However, the delay in doing the work does not alter your obligation to pay for the work in full. If the delay caused damage to the roof or other property, then you may have a claim for those damages, but you still must pay for the agreed-upon work. Similarly, if the delay caused there to be additional work that had to be done, you should not have to pay for that additional work.

If the original agreement was for you to supply the materials with an agreed-upon price of $13k, of which you have only paid $9k, then you are obligated to pay the remaining $4k. At best, you may be able to argue that the delay caused the price of materials (for which you paid) to increase.

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