By Kurtis Ming

An El Dorado Hills viewer spent more than $100,000 on a pool, but the contractor didn’t pay a subcontractor, who then went after our viewer. It was time to call Kurtis.

If a contractor doesn’t pay a supplier, or workers who worked on your home, they can come after you by putting a lien against your property. The homeowner caught up in this mess, Rafael Gallardo first contacted us in May and while there’s progress in his case, he’s still waiting for a resolution.

“Got a pool!” Gallardo exclaimed.

That’s a big improvement from when we first met him in May, when his unfinished dream pool had turned into a nightmare.

He paid Murphy’s Pools but Murphy’s Pools failed to pay a subcontractor.

“That infuriated us. My wife went ballistic, I went ballistic,” Gallardo told us in May.

The subcontractor is now suing Gallardo for the $14,298 that’s owed and put a lien on the home. It’s a situation the Contractors State License Board’s Venus Stromberg says is preventable.

“Issue joint checks, which are checks that are made out to both the prime contractor and the materials supplier or the subcontractor,” said Stromberg.

That way you’re sure everyone gets paid, since the prime and subcontractor must sign the check in order to cash it.

And after work with a subcontractor is done, demand your contractor get the subcontractor to sign this unconditional lien release form.

“By signing that they’re basically stating that they have been paid and they’re giving up their lien rights,” said Stromberg.

You can legally withhold payment to your prime contractor if he doesn’t get the release from the subcontractor.

Lien release forms can be found at the CSLB’s website.

The law regarding those forms was recently re-written. So if you have an ongoing project, make sure you have the updated forms.

“I would make sure that there was a contractors lien release form filled out for every single contractor,” said Gallardo.

He learned those lessons the hard way, but he says, since our story aired, Murphy’s Pools has nearly finished his job and is beginning to pay off that bill to the subcontractor.

“I have faith that he will do it. It’s just a wait and see game,” said Gallardo.

Gallardo says the subcontractor has put the lawsuit against him on hold for now while Murphy’s pools makes payments.

We reached out to Murphy’s Pools to see when that debt will be paid off, but we didn’t hear back.


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