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uncooperative owner

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RE:  jrtce's uncooperative owner

I have had some experience with just this problem, and have these comments
to consider if you wish to be compensated for your work.  There are two
problems:  getting paid and liability.  The trick is to get paid and not
create any unnecessary liability.  No one has sued me yet for behaving as
1.  I send a letter to the client indicating that you completed your work
in accordance with your mutual agreement.  I have not been properly
compensated for my work.  Please pay immediately, or I will consider the
client to be in breach of contract.  I give the client a reasonable number
of days to respond affirmatively, and include a notification that I will be
sending followup correspondence to the regulatory agency if there is no
constructive response.
2.  Wait the prescribed number of days.  I have generally allowed 10
calender days to respond.
3.  On the prescribed day, I post correspondence to the regulatory agency
indicating simply that I am no longer providing professional engineering
services to the project.  This letter to the regulatory agency is stamped
with my professional seal.  

This behaviour serves to let the client know that you will not be
associated with him/her unless you are properly compensated.  You leave the
project without professional engineering support, and inasmuch as the
project probably is required to have an engineer associated with it in the
first place; the owner now has problems with the regulatory agency.
It is highly likely that you will be paid in full before you have to send a
letter to the regulatory agency.  I have only had to go to this step 2-3
times.  In one case I did not get paid.  The client found an engineer to
take over, and despite his knowledge that I had not been paid, he certified
the work and did not get paid for it ( and assumed all the liability in the
process).  I was happy to be free of the problems I could see on the

This is not advice as you should behave in the manner that your attorney
tells you; but, I have found that the only way to get paid is to be very
deliberate in pursuing collection of what is due to you.  If you believe
your work is not worth much, then it follows that you should allow your
client to determine when and  how much to pay you (or not as the case may

Bruce Elster (be(--nospam--at)