As an electrician, you work as a subcontractor on home and business projects. You love your job; it is the business side of things you would rather not handle. But signing up for jobs and looking over contracts is necessary for your livelihood.
You finish the job. The owner and the city are happy with what you have done. Now you wait for your payment from the contractor. And you wait. And you wait some more. The contractor is refusing to pay you and will not give a reason. Can you sue him? What are your options?
A mechanic’s lien is a legal claim against the property on which you are working. Read over the contract you signed with the general contractor. Some contractors may put wording in that you cannot file a mechanic’s lien.
You can file for a mechanic’s lien in New Jersey, but be aware of the deadlines. For a residential lien, you must file within 120 days of your last day of providing labor or materials. On other projects, you have 90 days to file.
In some cases, an owner will ask the general contractor to take out a payment bond. The bond ensures the subcontractor gets paid, enabling other work gets done on time. You can file a claim against the payment bond, and the surety company may pay part of what the contractor owes you. The deadline to file a claim depends on the surety company.
If you decide to go down this avenue, it may cost you more money than what you are asking for from the contractor. The New Jersey Prompt Payment Act provides a remedy for you if you do not get paid. If you have performed to the standards of the contract, you may receive your payment within 10 days of the billing date.
Make sure to document everything you do during the job. Keep copies of your invoices. You may need proof if you have to go to court.