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Uncooperative owner

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>>I have a client who is quite late on paying my engineering bill on a
small
residential job and the project is about to break ground.  I have  lost my
patients with this guy.  One provision in my contract (which he never
returned) states that if I am not paid, my responsibilities and obligations
are terminated.  I am considering sending a letter to the building
department, with a copy to the client saying that I no longer take
responsibility for this project.  It seems to me that this will either put
the heat on the client to send me a check or dissolve my professional
obligations to an obviously un-cooperative owner.  Is this adviseable?,
possible?, legal?<<

This is one issue  that really makes me go postal (and how come they never
call it "going enigneer"?)

Have you tried sending a "demand" letter. A demand letter is a letter with
the word DEMAND in big letters across the top. What you then do is state
the issue clearly and calmly: the contract you signed, the work you did,
the fact that they haven't paid you (any other prima donna behavior could
be listed here, too). The most important thing to remember about this
letter is to write it as though an  objective 3rd party - i.e, the judge - 
was going to read it and make a decision. Then send it. If they have a fax
#, send it that way. If the fax is at their work place, and they get really
embarrassed,  oh well.

The demand letter will later be used if you take them to court. That's why
you write it calmy and rationally and very clearly. Go pummel a pillow
first.

I have a nifty little clause in my contract. Usually when I do residential
work (or commercial work for that matter) I have a "Not-To-Exceed" $
figure. The clause states that if I have to take any legal action, the $cap
comes off and I go for time and materials plus court costs. That usually
puts the fear of God in 'em.

One thing to keep in mind: a "demand" letter will probably terminate the
client relationship. I have had to send two of those, and I got my $, but
have not heard back from the client. Which was fine; why would I want a
deadbeat client, anyway? You just don't want to send this kind of letter to
someone who has otherwise been a good client, but who is just a little slow
to pay.

Kate O'Brien, P.E.
Simi VAlley