Metro man hit with big second bill from subcontractor after hiring another company

Problem Solvers

OLATHE, Kan. — Like many homeowners during this COVID-constrained summer, Tamirat Abera decided to focus on improving his home.

He hired JM Concrete Solutions of Overland Park to take out his old driveway and pour a new one, as well as pour a backyard patio.

The work seemed to go off without a hitch, Abera said. He paid the contractor $11,750 in full on Friday. The following Monday, the bad news hit.

He received a notice from a company he’d never heard of, AC Advance Concrete, threatening to file a lien on Abera’s home if he didn’t pay AC $7,480.

 “I am surprised,” Abera said. “They told me they are the ones fixing my driveway.”

Unbeknownst to Abera, JM Concrete Solutions had subbed out the job to AC Advance Concrete and then not paid AC. That’s why Abera called FOX4 Problem Solvers.

“I’m really frustrated,” Abera said.

FOX4 called Joey Merlo, the owner of JM Concrete Solutions. Merlo said he was involved in a private dispute between him and his subcontractor and that Abera should never have been dragged into it.

But that excuse is of little comfort to Abera. 

Can a lien really be filed against a homeowner by a subcontractor you didn’t even know existed? We asked attorney Chris Wirken, who said it’s a problem many homeowners could potentially face.

“Not all homeowners have a clue who a general contractor is going to bring in,” Wirken said.

Wirken said that’s exactly why both Missouri and Kansas require language be put in contracts warning them how many subcontractors will be used and what their names are.

The language also informs the homeowner that they can withhold a certain amount of payment to the general contractor until they have proof (lien release) that the subcontractor has been paid.

Abera’s contract with JM Concrete Solutions has no such warning.

So the loser in this case is not Abera but the subcontractor who not only did the lion’s share of the work but paid for all the concrete. Wirken said the subcontractor should have demanded language in the contract to protect himself.

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