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Question DetailsAsked on 4/26/2018

Can a contractor stop working and/or cancel our contract with only doing half the work?

Contractor was hired to repair a bridge on our driveway and re-pave the road it is on. We agreed on 29K and signed the contract. He stated it would be completed in two weeks. Two weeks is over and he hasn't shown up to the site in three days. When I reached him, he stated he couldn't set foot on that property because of the pending contract (we are trying to sell the property and have an interested buyer). He was paid 14K at the start. Was going to be paid 8K after completing the bridge (has not completed) and the balance when project completed. Are there laws that will support his theory. His reasoning is "there would be no lien recourse". I don't understand. The contract is between he and I, and there is nothing about this in the contract. The only mention of "termination of contract" is if the contractor is not paid on time and when the project is complete. Please HELP!

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Did you have a completion date in the contract ? If so, you could advise him if he does not finish ASAP you will either terminate the contract or call his Bond. Otherwise try to get something in writing - realizing it needs to be well before any potential closing date, and any failure on his part ot get it done might cause property sale contract issues for which YOU (as the Seller) would be liable.


Of course, paying $14,000 up front was a mistake - you probably realize that now. Sounds like a pretty substantial bridge repair, or a long drive for that amount of $ - that is more like a new small bridge and brand new driveway from scratch cost.


The fact the property is for sale (or even under contract) should not affect his rights, provided he completes the work before closing (i.e. completes it with you, the original signer of the contract, before the new owner takes possession). As long as the work is done under the contract while you still own the house, he can file a lien on it if not paid - though would have to do so before closing probably to be covered.


There is a presumption here that the buyers agree to the bridge and paving job.


Because he is holding up the job, you could also have possible recourse against him it his delay results in a delay in closing or the deal falling through because the work is not done. You say nothing in the contract about the road and bridge - do they then not have to be repaired before closing - i.e. is there not a contingency (assuming the property is actually under contract for sale) requiring the repairs ? Though if contingency period is not up yet, couldpop up during the inspection phase.


Your recourses if he does not get it done - call his Bond, though that is almost certain to put at least a couple to several month delay in the completion date. Other option, which might also delay things, is get an attorney specializing in real estate and construction contracts to put pressure on him to get it done. One way to alleviate his lien concern, maybe, would be to set up the rest of the money in an escrow account - to be released to him when YOU certify that he has completed the job satisfactorily. That way he would know the $ are available to pay him, making a lien unlikely to be needed - from his point of view. Be sure any escrow account makes it clear it needs YOUR (or your attorney's) signature to release the funds - don't let him use standard contractor escrow release terms which allow the contractor to certify the work is done and claim the funds.

Answered 6 months ago by LCD




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