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Scaffold taken


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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 8/23/2006


Our plasterer finished work around the end of may and was paid in full. He said he would be back to pick up his scaffolding in a week or so, and we asked if it was okay if we used it to paint our cathedral ceiling, and he said no problem - he would be back in a week to pick it up. 

When we were through, we stacked it outside. It sat for over a week, and I even went out and bought plastic for it so it wouldn't get wet. At the end of the week, we hauled it back into the house. We called him the next weekend, and again he said he would pick it up the following week. We put it back out in front of our house wrapped in plastic. Four days later, he came and picked it up.

Fast forward to two weeks later... he calls and says two pieces of his scaffolding are missing and he wants $150 for it. When I said we had left it outside multiple times, and I'm not responsible if he didn't pick it up, he freaked. As in berating me, my integrity, my husband's ability to select a wife, and on and on. I hung up.  

Thoughts? Help? Isn't he responsible for leaving his own things behind?


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 8/23/2006


Two thoughts...

1)  If it took him two weeks to discover that pieces were missing, then he has no idea when they "walked away." If he didn't check (inventory) the scaffolding when he picked it up, how can he say that the pieces disappeared from your property?

2) Did he know that the scaffolding would be left outside? If so, he had to realize that leaving it outside for two weeks would involve some risk of theft. 

If he had the impression that you would store it inside, and he noted when he picked the scaffolding up that pieces were missing, he might have a legitimate beef. 

It sounds to me like he wants to blame you for his own carelessness.


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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 8/24/2006


He said when he picked it up, he thought two pieces were missing or maybe we had kept them inside to use. (I am unclear on how we could use just two pieces or what someone else would do with just two pieces?) But then when he went to use them later, they were indeed missing, and he called. I assured him we did not and do not have them. 

And, yes, he told us to put it outside in the driveway. It was right outside of our garage doors, stacked and wrapped in plastic. We kept taking it back inside to be nice, to try to take care of it, since he wasn't coming when he said to get it. After doing this each week he said he'd be back (two or three times), he told us to put it back outside on a Thursday, and ended up picking it up on a Sunday.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 8/24/2006


Did you count the pieces of scaffolding yourself, either when the guy originally left them or when you placed them outside for him?
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By Jill in Elizabeth, PA on 8/24/2006


I didn't - and when we painted, we only used a few pieces, not the whole pile. I never thought much of it. The funny thing is, for half the time, we didn't even have garage doors - and if he thinks someone took just two pieces of scaffold, why didn't they take something more valuable from the house - like tools, materials, etc.?
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By Michelle in San Bernardino, CA on 8/24/2006


I wouldn't think you would responsible for any materials the contractor left behind. The deciding factor on whether you pay him or not is--has this contractor already signed a lien waiver stating you have paid him in full for the job? If you have a signed lien waiver then he doesn't have a leg to stand on. If you don't, he can place a lien on your property if you don't pay him.
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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 8/25/2006


I only asked because you said you moved the whole pile of scaffolding twice - once inside and once again back outside - and thought you might have counted it in the process. It's no big deal. It just would have been another point in your defense.

"Hey, there were 38 pieces of scaffolding when we set it back outside for you!!"

I assume that you DO have a lien waiver, since you've already paid him in full. If you DON'T, that could be a problem. 

I still think this is his responsibility, but I'm no legal expert.

My guess is...

First, be SURE that there isn't a pair of scaffold pieces misplaced on your property somewhere. Then...

If you have a lien waiver, politely tell him that you placed all of his scaffolding outside, as he asked you to do. Tell him that you don't know the source of the discrepancy, and that it's not your responsibility to know. His scaffolding is HIS responsibility. All you did was to borrow X pieces of scaffolding, and you put all X pieces back on the pile. (It would be helpful to know how many pieces you used.)

If you don't have a lien waiver, I'd still try to reason with the guy and try to get him to sign one. If he refuses to sign a lien waiver for you, it might be easier to write him a $150 check than to fight it.


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