Suppose your lead carpenter calls and says there has been an accident: One of your employees cut his finger off — and by the way, he had alcohol on his breath when it happened. What do you do? If you’re like most contractors, you fire the employee and then say to yourself, “Whew! I’m glad that’s over with.”
Earlier this year, a friend of mine had an interesting conversation with a young man who was subcontracting for a GC. The contractor owed the young man a pile of money and my friend was concerned. But the young man assured him there was nothing to worry about, because the contractor was a pal and would never stiff him. “Besides,” said the young man, “I can always put a lien on the property.”
One question I hear fairly often from builders is, “Can a contract with a client be enforced if it’s not in writing?” The short answer is yes, it can. Back in the days when I worked at the legal shark shop, we enforced unwritten contracts all the time — though we sometimes ran into problems.
My husband, my brother-in-law, and I were sitting around reminiscing about construction slowdowns we've been through. (What can I say? We're old.) My brother-in-law talked about the '70s, when to avoid laying off his crew he sent them to his mother's house to paint. He was hoping that by the time they finished he'd have some other jobs lined up. Instead, he wound up sending them to the homes of his mother's friends, too.