When you work in construction, your business depends on your reputation. Yet your payment does not. Even if your reputation is sterling, you will make mistakes on occasion. And you may have built or remodeled a structure in a defective manner.

Taking responsibility for the mistakes you made is important. But the customer must pay you regardless, though many may try to avoid doing so. If you find yourself in this situation, keeping these tips in mind can help you collect the debt owed to you.

Take preventative measures

Drafting an agreement upfront can save you from nonpayment. When your client signs this contract, they then agree to pay you a certain amount for your services. They will pay you this amount regardless of the outcome. You could also collect part of their payment upfront. Doing so may help lessen the sting of potential nonpayment thereafter.

Work with the client

Working with your dissatisfied client could prove a creative way of receiving your payment. Before you adopt a defensive stance, ask them – and yourself – some questions about why they’re withholding it. Were they dissatisfied with your design? Or did you make a fixable mistake? By adopting a conciliatory tone, you can improve the odds that your client will decide to pay you.

Go through the courts

Your client may still refuse to pay you, no matter your agreement or efforts to make things right. If they keep resisting, you will want to pursue a small claims settlement or a civil suit against them. Under Kentucky law, if the amount the client owes you is $2,500 or less, your case will go to small claims court. If they owe you a sum greater than $2,500 – or make false allegations of mistakes to avoid payment – then you will file a civil suit.

When you perform a construction service for a client, they must pay you. This agreement remains true whether you completed the job as expected or made a mistake. Working with a lawyer who has construction litigation experience can help you achieve the recourse you deserve.