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Question DetailsAsked on 5/19/2012

If I am in a dispute with the general contractor, should I let him in my home?

A theft occured in my home, which is being investigated by the police. The general contractor made and distributed copies of my key to subs (and possibly others), without my permission. The project is 98% complete, and payments will be required when work is performed to complete these stages. I intend fully to pay when work is completed, but do not know if I should let the Company finish the job. I am thinking the general is wanting ME to break the contract, so he can collect payment for work thus far and walk away. I want the job complete, and might proceed with a civil lawsuit for gross negligence on his part. If I let him finish the job, does it imply I am OK with what has transpired, and weaken any future judgement against him?

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8 Answers


Barney, my best advice to you is have your locks re-keyed once the job is over. Discuss reimbursement for items stolen from your home. Unless you saw the items being stolen the police will only be able to pin it on the workers if they sell it to a business. Handle it internally with your contractor.


Answered 8 years ago by KP


KP's response is sound. These are really two different issues.

The two issues are your contract for the work and your house being burglerized.

You have a contract and an agreement with the contractor. Let him finish his work as agreed. It is technically unrelated to the other issue. The only real concern is your own safety; could someone let themselves into your home while you are there. So you need the contractor to finish immediately and clear out of the project. Without proof, you can only guess that the theft is the result of the keys, so your contract is still valid until an actual breach or illegal action is documented.

If you are concerned about safety, go ahead and have your house rekeyed, and arraigne for someone to meet and let in the contractor and his subs through the completion of the project.

As far as the theft,

You need to make the contractor aware of the theft, aware that his actions are believed to be the cause, and request a copy of the key distrubution list. (Do this in writting-be concise / brief. One or two paragraphs, tops) You need to know exactly how many copies he made and to whom (specific name of the person and what company they work for). You need to be clear with him that you expect all copies returned with the completion of the project. You also need to make it clear that you will be withholding the cost of having your locks professionally re-keyed at the conclusion of the job (go ahead and have a locksmith give you a written estimate or receipt, and provide him with a copy). If he argues, point out that his subs could have made copies just as easily as he did, so for your own safety it is non-negotiable.

You should also provide the list he gives you to the police to have it a part of your report. They may be able to actually meet with each key-holder and question them.

If you are going to pursue a civil lawsuit, I recommend you consult with a lawyer. The contractor's insurance/bond company will provide him with a lawyer, so you don't want to be out gunned or lose on a procedural technicallity (happens all the time; you are right, but the judge cannot rule in your favor). Your legal counsel can give you an idea of how to proceed with the contractor, as well. Find out what the lawyer will cost, and compare that to the value of the items you lost to decide if following up with a civil suit is worth your time and effort.

Also consider contacting the BBB and filing a report. The copying of keys is enough of a breach for them to record a complaint; but the theft during the project is worth having on file. It will help the police later if there is a pattern.

Finally, if you have not already, contact your home owner's insurance and see what kind of coverage you have. Some insurance companies include legal fee or legal assistance in their plan; so explain to your agent what happened and see what options they have included in your plan. You do not have to make a claim to get these services. I use USAA and have found them to be amazing with helping in situations like this.

Best of luck!


Answered 8 years ago by Kenny Johnson


Unless the contractor has it specifically stated in his contract that no keys will be copied or available to others there isn't much you can do to the contractor. It's bad practice on his part to not put the key in a lockbox on site but not illegal. When you contracted with him and gave him the key you gave him free reign to access your property as he saw fit to complete the work. Is the work of good quality and on schedule? If so you'll have to let him finish but may want someone there while he does.

Does the contractor know about the burglary? Chances are he'll want to find out who did it as bad as you do. It makes him look bad. Inquire with his insurance, if he has any, to see if they cover the lost items since the perpetrator used a key he provided to access the property. There may be a negligence case to file if he knowingly gave a key to someone previously convicted of burglary or a violent crime. It may be hard to prove though.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


We are talking $30k worth of jewelry and savings bonds taken when the safe was stolen. Not spare change off the countertop. Nothing else touched. Come to find out the contractors (without our knowledge or consent) on several occasions simply left a copy of the key under a flower pot on the porch so it was more convenient for them the next day. I find it hard to believe this is an acceptable industry standard, and as such, the general contractor should be held accountable for his negligence and ethical impropriety. I have a wife and daughter in the house. Would you want your house left open in such a manner?

I had the locks changed the same day the theft occurred. He has done nothing to return my keys (it has been two weeks as of today) nor has he done anything to assist me in recovering my possessions. He gave only a partial list of subs to the police - probably because he has zero clue how many people actually worked this site.

I fully realize there is little the police can or will do in this case. I will make his professional life miserable as I clearly state facts regarding his lack of supervision, key control, and other non-professional behavior. Angie's List, Yelp, Yahoo Reviews, Better Business Bureau, and the State Licensing Board are all powerful tools where, by merely stating fact (not accusing him of actual theft), I can make a compelling case to any potential new customers to look elsewhere for a general contractor.

Answered 8 years ago by Barney


Your best bet now is to go to your local news and have them run a story on the situation. They will provide faster results with spreading your contractors name (full name not just company), and all local bank and pawn shops will be aware of the missing items.
Your contractor can reapply for a new or change of company name through construction industries division if your state requires a general contractors license. So there is no point filing a report with BBB. If your state has a CID file a complaint with them so it will follow them even with a name change.


Answered 8 years ago by KP


I'm sorry to hear such expensive items were stolen. Pawn shops can't/won't help unless there are identifying markings on the jewelry corresponding with documentaion you submit with the police report. I've known a few people who successfully located their itmes in the pawn shop but had to buy them back becasue while they knew the items were theirs the law wasn't on their side to get them back.

I always tell my customers to put any valuables in an off site safe place even though I make every reasonable attempt to check the guys out I have working in their homes. Even a background check doesn't do much for someone who has never been caught. In fact, it rarely tells you the information you'd like to know but haven't already found out elsewhere. You can't expect your contractor would have been on site at all times unless he stated he would in his contract. In that case he probably isn't very profitable and won't be in business for long meaning don't bother worrying about any future warranty coverage. The only way most of us can be on site at all times is if we are paying someone to do the rest of our jobs in our place and charging you well over the going rate. Even while on site no one can see everyone working at all times if the crew is a reasonable size and work is spread around the house.

What I'm getting after is it is the nature of the beast that not everyone will be supervised at all times. Did he mis-manage and do things wrong? Absolutely! Is he handling the theft appropriately? Not by the sound of it. He should have the contact information for all of his sub-contractors to provide to the police. Those sub-contractors will then need to provide the information for any of their employees that were on site. I just don't want you to think all contractors are bad because we can't be on site all day every day. It's not practical, profitable, or feasible business wise. If we are on site all day we aren't doing our accounting, meeting with other current and future customers so there is other work to go on to, arranging advertising, checking out sub-contractors (which is obviously important), licensing continuing education, etc.

Smearing the contractor publicly with fact as you stated may help. Find out what your local licensing laws are for contractors by contacting the appropriate agency. They can lean on him to cooperate or risk losing his credentials.

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Todd - thank you (and all the others) for the advice.

I don't think all contractors are bad. I don't expect him to provide direct and constant supervision every minute of the project, although if we end up completing this project I will demand it of him.

But I do expect a degree of professionalism and respect for my property such that he isn't putting me at risk withpoor key accountability. Giving a key to a sub may be one thing. Leaving keys outside overnight is a totally different matter. It doesn't matter who put the key out there. I hired one person. He hired the rest. I see him to be accountable. He can deal with the subs.

I won't be "smearing" his name or reputation. That implies I am making things up, when all I will be doing is reciting facts. The public can draw their own conclusions.

Again, thanks for all the input.

Answered 8 years ago by Barney


As someone else said, rekey all locks once the project is complete and make it a habit to ensure that windows and doors are locked when leaving.

Also, consider adding a video survailance sign and a few cheap cameras in areas with high valuables or in areas where contractors should not be.

Review your contract though and see if anythign like this is covered.

Also find out what the terms are if you break your contract.

Hope it goes well...

Source:  [ Link Not Allowed ]

Answered 8 years ago by osensnolf

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