Sweat Equity


Old 04-08-10, 10:46 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Cecil County, MD
Posts: 209
Sweat Equity

I don't know if this is the right area to put this but here goes.
For four or five years, a lady friend and I cohabited in her house. While I lived there, I contributed equally to expenses and in addition, performed all the maintenance, repairs and upgrades to her house. For reasons to unimportant to mention here, I moved out. She and I remain very good friends and I continue to perform maintenance and repairs on her home. Therein lies the problem.
When a man is deeded ownership of a house, his sweat equity is eventually converted to cash equity. All of his hard work will one day be rewarded with cash for his retirement assuming he lives that long.
If his name is not on the deed, the fruits of his labor go to the owner of the property.
My friend simply cannot afford to pay someone to come in and do the things I have been called upon to do. Most recently it was repairing her well, replacing the supply line to the house, replacing her hot water heater, repairing her yard tractor, repairing her car, replacing drywall in a couple of rooms and finishing it, replacing basement steps, replacing aging wiring and lights and the list goes on.
All of these things assure her of increased value and equity when the time comes. For me, it is an exercise in futility. While I was expected, as a man, to take ownership and responsibility for those tasks, I was not granted the same ownership and responsibility when it came to any authority in the household.
In other words, when it came to repairs, I was a partner. When it came to what went on in the house, I was a guest.
I want her to keep the house. She considered selling it and buying a mobile home which in my humble opinion is a monumentally stupid idea. Thatís trading an asset for a liability. She says she cannot afford to keep the house because of the repair and maintenance costs.
I was thinking that maybe I could bill her for my labor at a fair rate but instead of trying to pay me now, tack it all on to a bill that is paid only when she eventually sells the house at the appropriate time. The bill must be assumed and immediately payable at sale or if she transfers ownership to someone like her kids.
Has anybody ever heard of such a thing or is this too stupid of an idea to even entertain?
Sponsored Links
Old 04-08-10, 11:17 AM
Gunguy45's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 20,794
Well..its probably doable legally..but I sure wouldn't. Since this is just a friend, you need to make a decision. Either you continue doing what you are doing (does she at least pay for materials...and beer and dinners after the job?) or you tell her you just don't have the time/desire to keep fixing everything for her.

Granted...a house is normally a better investment than a trailer or mobile home, but if she can't afford to pay for professional repairs, but she could maybe sell and buy a mobile outright...might she not be better off? Then money might be able to be saved for purchase of a newer, less repair prone home in the future.

Very few people will voluntarily give up free labor, so I think if you approached her with this deal..she might get offended and just say forget it. Though, if she knew how much a Pro might charge, her feelings might change. Its amazing how many things people will put off or just deal with when they find out how much it costs.

Personally...I agree..I don't think I could live in a mobile...but plenty of people do..and often for their entire lives.

Some of this might depend on age as well. When I'm 75...I might prefer living in a new mobile that I don't have to worry about....as long as it has a garage...lol.

Heres a thought...does she own the house and property outright? Depending on her age, maybe a reverse mortgage would be an option? Though I would imagine the value of the property might be down right now. I've noticed I haven't seen all those TV ads for the reverse mortgages recently. Is it currently even saleable in her market?
Old 04-09-10, 01:29 PM
SeattlePioneer's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seattle, Wa
Posts: 5,503
In my state of Washington, I would guess you could write up a contract for the work you did and the charge you want to make.

You could make that note payable when the house is sold. I would suppose that would be enforceable even if the sale were years away.

I don't think it's unreasonable to want to be paid for the variety of skilled work you might do in the future. I also wouldn't be surprised if the woman balks at signing such a note.

As noted earlier, free is a good price. A lot of people would think of reasons why they shouldn't or wont pay, and would do without if it came to it.
Old 05-14-10, 10:54 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Cecil County, MD
Posts: 209
All good thoughts and I have much to think about now. I guess part of the problem is I know she will get one of her nephews or son to do repairs for her if I can't (or won't). Inevitably, I have to go over and re-repair what they fixed and it is twice as hard because I have to undo what they did(like adding a telephone extension by running 60 feet of telephone wire out the window, around the house and in the garage door-all above ground).
I mean, she does things for me, too, but 2 or 3 loads of laundry does not equal rebuilding the engine on her lawn tractor because one of her nephews or son didn't check the oil.
I will have to take it on a case by case basis and explain my thinking to her.
Appreciate the input, thanks guys.

Last edited by Shadeladie; 05-14-10 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Language
Old 05-14-10, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: texas
Posts: 8
Get her to agree to pay x dollars for each repair--then put a mechanic's lien on the property for the amount. When it sells, you will be paid.
Given your relationship, I would sure get the agreed payment price in writing. I doubt you will do many repairs once this process is set into motion.
Old 05-14-10, 03:43 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 18,497
I wouldn't back-bill for anything, but's that just me. If you want her to pay for anything, she'll have to sign her name to something. I like the mechanic's lien, wish I could say I thought of it....

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes