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Question DetailsAsked on 6/30/2017

Could unlicensed Contract be held accountable for running away with advance and not completing the job?

Hi, I live in California and had a need to pour some concrete in my backyard and upon my friends advise hired his friend who is an unlicensed contractor/handyman. Initially this guy was great and did a good job in preparing the ground to pour concrete. Once he was ready to grade/put bending boards around area to pour concrete, he asked for advance and upon my friend's advise, I gave him 3000 out of a total of 5600 he was going to charge to complete job.

Now it turns out he does not want to do the job (he probably got another big contract) and has simply stopped showing up or returning calls. He has not finished grading the dirt or even put the bending boards in. My friend has tried to call him too but he is just not responding. Is there anything that can be done to get the money (even portion of) that was paid to him as advance?

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1 Answer


Well - make your bed and lie in it. Rules one and two about construction work - use licensed, bonded and insured contractors; and don't do business with or get involved with friends or relatives or such. Sounds like your friend is not going to be so much so now ?

Another thing - you likely do not have a contract for this work, so $ amount and completion date are not documented, right ? And $5600 - that is a pretty big concrete job (assuming patio or such) - would typically be about 700-1900 SF for that price. And $3000 payment before the concrete was poured - sounds like he did not have the money to do the job himself so you were paying his cost as-you-go, a dangerous situation as you found out.

If unlicensed he is probably unbonded and uninsured too, so those two normal recourses are likely not available to you - article on importance of that here -

Some few states have a home construction/improvement public reimvursement fund that can help reimburse for things like this - some only if contractor is licensed, some regardless - check with state contractor licensing board about that possibility.

Barring above, you have a couple of options:

1) send him a certified, return receipt, signature required letter demanding either completion in reasonable time (say within a week of when you expect he will get the letter) or a full refund - and threatening legal action if he does not come through. If letter comes from an attorney will have more impact than if just from you, but likely to cost you several hundred $ for that

2) if 1) does not work, because this is a contractual situation and especially since he did some of the work, police will undoubtedly not consider it as a criminal fraud case, especially as this appears to just be a normal case of a contractor dragging your job out because he can rather than intentional fraud - but you could contact your state/local consumer fraud division to see if they will put some pressure on him - sometimes just a call from them to him does the job, especially if he is operating illegally or an illegal immigrant or such

3) sue - for $3000 that might or might not be small claims court eligible, depending on state

4) put pressure on him, if applicable in your state for type of work you are talking about and/or contract $ amount, for operating without a license - contractor license, and maybe business license too. You might be able to get the licensing agency(s) to put pressure on him if he was supposed to be licensed for your type/size but was not.

And of course, after all is said and done, sounds like an appropriate Angies List Review would be in order.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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