Final Payment Huff

I need a reality check on something unpleasant that happened today with a roofing contractor. Did I err or is he being a little hinky?
I've been renovating my 100+ year old Victorian (new siding, new windows, etc.) There is a small mansard roof at the front of the house, and the historic slate and underlying tin were a mess. I located a slate specialist and also got my neighbor (whose house adjoins mine) to agree to do his mansard at the same time. We got a small break on the price from the roofer because it originally appeared both could be done at once. The work was going to be approximately $2,200 for each roof.
For about a month there was a hassle getting my GC and roofer to agree on who was doing what first, but in the end the GC had to rebuild the roof deck and reinforce the rotted vertical structural supports before the copper gutter, downspout and slate could be applied. Because the tear-out was so extensive and we didn't want to leave the roof open, both roofs couldn't be done simultaneously as we had planned. I offered to pay the roofer the difference but he waved it off and said he wouldn't charge if it it didn't make a difference to his final profitability on the work, etc.
After a few delays on his side(some weather-related and some not) the roofer finally came out last Friday and Saturday and installed the slate. The project is not quite done -- he needs some additional contrasting slates for the decorative rosettes and has a small area adjacent to my neighbor's roof which needs shingles -- but he included a small holdback in the invoice for the last bit of work. Everything looked great and as he was packing up on Saturday, I offered to write him a check on the spot, which he declined because he wanted to double check the invoice before he sent it. I also asked if he would like to stop by next week to pick up the check. He declined that also.
The roofer FAXed the invoice a day or two later (Sunday or Monday) but I was so swamped at work over the next few days that I didn't have time to sit down and write out the check until this morning (Saturday). The roofer had called once on my cell and sent one or two E-mails but I couldn't even listen or read the messages through until today. Even then, they weren't along the lines of "Hey, I haven't received payment yet. When do you think you can send a check."
I sent the roofer an E-mail this morning letting him know that I'd torn the house up but couldn't find the FAXed invoice and asked him to please reFAX it or E-mail it. I got back an E-mail stating "please send this out immediately. I operate based on volume and the process I created requires all aspects to function fluidly...unfortunately this has not happened this on this project. I don't feel that it is any one person's fault. Regardless, my profit (and scheduling) was based on the two projects together. We have already discussed this so no need to reiterate. But, in my business money is constantly moving, i.e. payroll, materials, and you need the flow to remain constant." I immediately called him and asked him what on earth was he upset about, and that's when he went off about the contract stating he was supposed to be paid upon completion and that he'd been stiffed before by some woman for a $27,000 roof, and that he had to make sure he did things promptly so he could file a mechanic's lien, etc. I told him I was sympathetic about cash flow as I used to be a freelancer but was offended that he assumed I was going to stiff him. Among other things, why would I have E-mailed him asking for another copy of the invoice? And why would I have offered to write him a check on the spot when he finished the work? And finally, he's still holding a deposit for my neighbor. Like I'm going to cheat him even as I'm working with the GC to get the prep done on my neighbor's house. I told him to come on over and pick up the check if things were that desperate but once again he declined. He was too busy.
This afternoon I took the $1,200 check to the post office and mailed it, which is exactly what I was planning on doing anyway. But I'm still upset. I've never cheated anybody in my life! Was I committing a cardinal sin by putting the payment off a few days (5 days at most) until I could get to it, or is something else going on here?
I do want this guy to finish the work because of the quality of work he does, but how do I approach him to (1) come back to finish my section; and (2) get him to start and finish my neighbor's roof. He already told my GC that if the guys can get the neighbor's roof deck rebuilt before March 27 he could come out on a Saturday and get the work done. My neighbor does have a signed contract with him, so should I let him communicate directly with the roofer? I hate to put the onus on him as he is so far away.
Any insights and strategies would be appreciated! And if I was wrong let me know. Thanks!
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"Leslie" wrote in message

This shows he is an honest person.

The holdback shows once again he is an honest person. Wanting to double check his invoice is protecting _both_ parties, so there are no misunderstandings.
Asking him to stop by to pickup a check is an honorable jesture on your part. But, you have no idea where he might be working the following week. Stoping by might be a huge inconvenience on his part. You may be an hour each way for him to travel to and from, time =$$ .

Let me get this straight. You claim to be so swamped you can't write out a check and mail the guy a check for a week, but you want him to come running over to your place? Be a little more considerate. What makes you think your time is more valuable than his? You are the one being unreasonable. Try that tactic anywhere else, you will be making payments with interest.

You should've taken care of business and you wouldn't be asking for another invoice. This tactic is used by deadbeats which collection agencies are well aware of.
His holding a neighbors deposit has nothing to do with your business. His contract with neighbor is a seperate contract.
You making a remark that if he is so desparate to come pick up the check, sounds like you're the uppity type. Just pay the guy his money, what is your problem?

Something else is going on here, you're a slow pay. You said yourself you were too busy and finally got to it, but first came the excuse you lost the fax. Take care of business and you won't have these problems.

Yep, far away. And you want him to chase the $. Good contractors are hard to find, consider yourself lucky if he shows back up.
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snipped

Your fault, admit it and move on

snipped,
Your fault..... email, should have called the guy. Yea you offered to pay the guy in the beginning he was honest and sent you a bill, EXPECTING payment on recipt. You took 5 days to pay. Now he is nervous. I would have pre leined your property. Of course I pre lein every job I do. Common in Arizona.

again snipped
Yes you want to him to complete the job. Sugar cookies and the appropiate drink might be in order. If he is good prove to him that you are. Not five days, the day you get the bill. Devlivering the last payment to him and a thank you would be in line.
A good contractor that works with ancient materials is hard to find. If your pleased with the results show the man your pleased. Pay promptly. Five days may not be much to you, it might be a life time to him... You offered to pay on the spot. He refused showing respect and confidence. You broke the chain. Email may be common in your world is it in his?

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SQLit wrote:

Hi, Ever heard of lien hold back? Did he show all the material is paid for, if he had helpers, they're paid for? Otherwise Lien hold back can be one month here where I am. Tony
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I obtain lien releases signed by all who would have a claim at the time I make payments, or I don't pay. The need for these lien releases is know from the start. The standard AIA lien release form is adequate.
RB
Tony Hwang wrote:

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- SQLit -

- Nehmo - I agree. Plus, in order for OP to convince the slate guy that they'll be no money probs in the future, OP should just tip him $100. (The ones who have done this to me sure stand out in my memory.) And he shouldn't use snail to send checks, if you can't just hand over the check, you can wire the money bank account to bank account. I personally hate waiting for a check to arrive in the mail.
On the other side, slate guy shouldn't have gotten so crabby.
--
*********************
* Nehmo Sergheyev *
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Could be as simple as he had a bad day or he didn't get any nookiel last night. He is still probably hurting from the lady that stiffed him and it just came to his mind. Or he just got a big repair bill for his truck.
You sent the check, he should have it soon and just move on with life. Don't take it as a reflection of your reputation or his. Ed
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There's enough finger-pointing to go around on both sides, IMO. It's not up to you to make sure a cntractor's billing and collection practices are in order, and it's not up to a contractor to have to chase clients for payment on work already done to the satisfaction of the client.
Solution simple: Immediately call the dude by phone or personally visit his place of business and work it out. If someone's still hacked off about something or another that results in further financial disagreements beyond that point, well, that's why God invented small claims court.
AJS
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Leslie) wrote:

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Yes you did. It would have taken 5 minutes to write the check. You cannot honestly say you didn't have 5 free minutes for an entire week.
I'm not saying you are totally at fault here, but look at his mindset and expectations. He clearly expected you to pay upon receiving the invoice. Putting it off almost a full week is not what he expected. *You* knew you were going to eventually pay it - but he didn't know that, despite your offer to pay right away. He faxed the invoice Sunday (let's say) - I'll bet he was checking his mailbox Tuesday, then Wednesday - all the while, you didn't even look at the invoice, nevermind mail the check he was expecting.
I honestly don't think he was accusing you of stiffing him - If I were you, I'd call him and say you are sorry for any misunderstanding (not sorry for your actions, as you thought waiting a week was ok, and that isn't unreasonable), and in the future will be certain to pay immediately upon receipt. That should make him happy, and he might even surprise you by saying immediate payment isn't necessary (I'm a freelancer - I want immediate payment from new clients, but older ones who I *know* will pay can take as long as they wish, within reason)
JWB
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