How to Deal with a Difficult Contractor
By: Tanya Torres
When you are having your home repaired, you are excited to see the finished project. You have done your part in searching for a contractor who can do the job, but when the finished project is not what you wanted or paid for then you are left with a bad investment and more problems in your home. It can be disheartening when you have these expectations of a contractor and their empty promises and you end up having to fix them yourself because they left the project incomplete or worse. If you’re faced with an unfinished renovation, a poorly done job or you want to avoid a bad experience with a contractor then follow these steps to protect yourself and your home.
There is a lot of face-to-face talking when you have a contractor in your home to repair or update an area in it. But if your contractor is not showing up and not communicating with you then it is important to document every time you contact the contractor. You paid them for a service and if they are not communicating with you then you need to keep a log of every time you contact them along with documenting everything else. It is crucial to keep everything documented when it comes to the communication and lack of work with the contractor just in case you have to go to court.
- Certified Letters
A great way to keep track of the times you contacted them is by sending certified letters that have a return receipt requested. In this letter you will need to explain to the contractor the problems you are currently experiencing and the details of the incomplete project and to contact you immediately. If by some chance the contractor does respond to you, it is still important that you continue to document everything to ensure that the work you paid for is completed.
If you are dealing with a contractor who is not showing up, working slowly or the work is bad then it is important for you to keep your leverage. For example, if you still have a balance owed and the job is not complete then do not pay them until it is finished. If you have paid then you will not have any leverage and they may not even return and you will be left with holes in your home and an incomplete project. You can even tell the contractor that you will put up a bad review with evidence on their website, Google Reviews, as an ad and so on to get the ball rolling.
What to Do When the Work Falls Apart
If your contractor has completed the job and you are dealing with problems due to bad workmanship, it does not mean that it is your problem that you have to resolve yourself. Instead of finding someone new who you will also have to pay for repairs, you can contact the previous contractor to fix their bad work since it is their problem. Their shoddy work is something that they will have to fix since in the eyes of the law, they did not complete a service to their best ability. For example, according to the Attorney Referral Service, “if the construction work is defective or if he was fraudulent in some way, there can be a case for suing. If he just stopped working and disappeared, you would probably have a good case.”
- Good Faith Letter
Before you head to small claims court, you may want to give the contractor an opportunity to fix his bad work. You can send him a “good faith letter” and detail what he promised he would do to your home, the materials he would use, the length it would take and whatever else he promised in the letter. This letter will be important if you do have to take the contractor to court because it shows the judge that you did attempt to resolve the issue on your own without involving the law.
Sometimes it is difficult to deal with others about a situation like this. If this is the case in your situation then you will have to seek outside assistance to help you. For example, if you have given money to the contractor for materials and they have stopped showing up and will not respond to you then you will have to call the police. If they have not responded to you or returned then that is considered contractor theft. According to Barnett Howard & Williams Law Firm, “in most cases, dissatisfied consumers will have to resort to the civil courts, but in extreme cases, a contractor could be convicted of theft when he accepts money and utterly fails to perform.”
If you are dealing with a contractor who did not give you what he/she promised you in your agreement then you can also contact the licensing board. In some cases, you may not see your money again but that does not mean that this contractor can get away with taking your money even if you do not get it back. If a civil court case does not work out for you the way you want it to then you have still options in getting the contractor in trouble for not completing their work in your home. You can contact your local consumer protection office, an attorney, the Better Business Bureau or your state attorney general’s office.
Inspections & Permits
Lastly, it is always important to have inspections and permits when having your home worked on. Although this may seem like a difficult and expensive route to take, inspections and permits prevent problems like this from arising. Instead of dealing with a home that is falling apart due to bad handy work or a contractor who took your money and never returned, you will be protected and so will your home.