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Question DetailsAsked on 8/27/2013

How do I get my contractor to finish the job?

My contractor is now 75 days over his due date. He shows up and works one day, and then no work is done for four or five days. I have to call him several times to get a response. I told him in writing that I want another company to finish the job. Can I legally take the money I owe him and pay someone else to complete the work?

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5 Answers

Voted Best Answer

He hasn't legally abandoned the job as long as he is still showing up and doing something, even if it is very little, from time to time. You'll have to fire him first. Have documentation that the job is not being done in a timely manner, showing when he has and has not worked. Be ready for a fight and probably a legal battle since he will likely still want more money or won't refund money paid for incomplete work.

Change the locks and inform the contractor their services on your property are terminated. Tell him if anyone representing his company enters your property they will be considered trespassing and will be prosecuted. Then hire another company to check the work he has done to make sure it is right. Somehow I doubt it is given the nature of his work ethic. Then have the new contractor repair any bad workmanship and finish the job. Keep records as any documented things that have to be redone will help your case against the first contractor.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 7 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Good answer by Todd.

I would just add that in my state any materials on the job can not be removed by the contractor even if you have not paid for them. He will have to go through legal channels to remove them. In this state (NJ) it does not apply to tools though.

Answered 7 years ago by ContractorDon


That's generally the rule in most states as far as I know. Most contractors, however, know how to get around it. As long as they aren't fired or otherwise prohibitted from the property all they have to say is they removed the materials because they were wrong in some way or faulty. It's pretty easy and once the materials are gone it's hard to prove whether anything was wrong or not. It's pretty common to hear of a non-paying customer having materials "reposessed" and the contractor claims the work was incomplete and not up to his own standards. Until payment is given the job isn't necessarily complete unless there is a really good paper trail with pictures indicating otherwise. it's not enough to tell the contractor to get lost. Make sure he knows he is not allowed on your property at all. If he has tools on the premises he can set an appointment to be escorted through the house to collect only what he can prove is his. A police officer will likely be glad to escort him through the house with you if you feel he could be combative.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 7 years ago by Todd's Home Services


One comment to the other answers you have gotten - if you fire him and have another contractor finish the work, it will be your word against his regarding what had or had not been done, and what the work quality was - and as long as he can prove materials were bought and work done, he will win at least to some extent.

You FIRST (before telling him he is fired and demanding any deposit back) need to get an attorney on board - and get him to help you through the termination notice, determination of whether materials can be locked up at your house or have to be released to him (depends on who and how paid, and if paid for and lien releases have been done), arranging for tool return (or holding them under an owner's lien), claim for refund of deposits or progress payments, claim on his bond (I hope he was bonded) and possibly his General Contractors or Inland insurance (depending on the facts of the case and if he physically damaged the house), getting an inspection by a licensed professional architect and/or engineer experienced in residental work for adequacy and workmanlike performance (or not) with photo and report documentation, getting formal quotes (3 minimum) for finishing the work, filing a formal complaint with the state licensing board and maybe business license agency, getting subcontractor and materials supplier quitclaims and lien releases (and his, eventually, though that will likely take a court order), monitoring for his bankruptcy (assuming this is his normal work mode), etc, etc.

I hate to say it, but your remodel is probably on hold for at least several months unless you are willing to risk blowing your case (and any chance of the bonding company paying for it) by destroying the evidence of poor work by bringing another contractor on board before the legal side is up to snuff.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


If he is a licensed contractor, you can file a claim against his bond. If they are not licensed the problem is compounded, as you should never knowingly hire an unlicensed contractor to work on your property. If unlicensed, the courts may be your only recourse.

Answered 6 years ago by sethbonilla


Seth (above answer),

Not every state has licensing. Texas, for example, has no general contractor licensing, only for HVAC, plumbing and electrical. They are worried the house might burn down or flood but not whether it will stand up in a stiff breeze. Also, a license doesn't mean there is an active bond. Contractors get around it all the time in states that do not require the company issuing the bond to notify them of termination. It is worth checking into though if those things are required in your state.

Answered 6 years ago by Todd's Home Services

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