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Question DetailsAsked on 2/9/2017

What to do about incomplete job by contractor.

Paid in full. Substandard work, errors and substandard. No contract. Walked off job when asked about issues.

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2 Answers



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services


Here is a very recent similar question with answer and links to several other related questions with answers which might help -

You have a real problem - which it might well take an attorney to help address, especially given the lack of a contract. Your main problem as I see it is you paid in full before you were happy with and felt the work was complete, so he considers (with a lot of justification) that you were satisfied with the job and he is done. So any claim at this time would likely have to be tied to warranty coverage, which generally does NOT include rework of work which you consider substandard or shoddy BUT was in that condition when you made the final payment.

If he was bonded you remotely might be able to call his bond - but that is unlikely because you already implicitly accepted the job by paying in full so they will probably (fairly legitimately) claim the job is done so the bond does not apply any more, you did not have a contract and likely no definitive scope of work for the bonding company or adjuster to be able to say if the job is done or not, and by not having (evidently) objected to the work quality and the unnamed "errors" during the course of the work and before final payment you at least implicitly accepted the work in the current condition.

If REALLY shoddy or especially contrary to code, you MIGHT be able to file a complaint with the state licensing board (if this was work that requires a license, not just architectural finishes being done) and put pressure on him to clean up his act to avoid the licensing board possibly suspending his license - if he is even licensed. Ditto if he is NOT licensed but is required by law to be so - check state contractor licensing board website for what types of work require licensing and which do not in your state - ranges from virtually any contracting at all in big-brother states like California to being required for almost no residential work at all in buyer-beware states like Texas.

Ditto on any contrary to code work, or if a building permit was required and he did the work without one (though in some areas that is considered the owner's responsbility to see it is in effect, not the contractor's), you might be able to get a fail on the work from the building inspector and have THEM put some pressure on him to fix the deficient (at least the code-compliancy part) work. In some jurisdictions the building code enforcement inspectors or building official will put substantial pressure on a contractor to get it right (at least with respect to code compliance issues) even to the point of refusing to accept any more building permit applications with that contrator's name on it until the work is done right, in others you will get zippo support from them.

You also might have a claim against him in court - civil court or if a smaller amount ($ varies by state)in small claims court - but you will be fighting from a weak position because you paid in full, implying acceptance of the work. But if you got an expert witness or two in regarding the work quality and any code compliance issues, I guess you might win - but you would not find me giving odds on your win, especially if the contractor successfully paints you as a cranky customer who is never satisfied who accepted the work and paid for it but now wants more work done for free. That battle outcome would likely depend on how you and he come across to the judge in court - the issue of apparent reasonableness onthe part of the parties.

One other possibility - if you are elderly or disabled and you feel he scammed or defrauded you, your state or city might have an elder/disabled fraud program - sometimes a separate program commonly in the state attorney general's office, sometimes under local DA's office, occasionally in a consumer affairs or commerce or similar department. Local or state district attorney's/prosecutors office or the mayor'scountry executive's office should be able to tell you if there is one and direct you to it.

20-20 hindsight - always have a contract (or at least a work order with estimate for smaller jobs like a simple plumbing or electrical repair), make sure the contractor is appropriately licensed and is properly bonded and insured, and make sure the contract calls for a substantial retention pending completion and final acceptance.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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