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Question DetailsAsked on 4/23/2014

What recourse do I have for a kitchen contractor stalling work for weeks?

My kitchen contractor assured me all Cabinets were standard and in stock before demolishing my existing kitchen. Once the deposit was paid and demolition complete work stopped for almost 4 weeks awaiting cabinets. Now they have arrived but they're still working half days or not showing up at all. What recourse do I have besides holding remaining payment?

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3 Answers


Without really knowing the whole story this is not an easy question to answer. As I have stated in other answers give here many states require a starting and completion date on a contract. If he has not met those you may have recourse but it will involve a lawyer and slow the job down even more and if the job is being done without a permit that can add another problem as you might need the backing of the local building department for how much work has been done and such.

I do not know if this was just a simple kitchen remodel with no walls being moved or major removal and replacement of wall finishes and plumbing changes or why it would take this long. Every contractor works differently but even if I have windows to be replaced or wall that are being removed but I do not remove cabinets untill the new ones are on site and inspected for damage. If I have to change things like that I will remove the least amount of cabinets neccessary. I even had a recent kitchen where the customer was going through chemo and every night I reinstalled the kitchen sink on a a smaller part of the counter I placed on the old sink base as she could not carry dishes to a second floor bath sink.

I do not know how much money you still are holding but you might try to threaten getting another contractor to finish the job as a way to get his attention. If you do have to fire him it may be hard to get someone else to finish the job though. If it gets to this point Ias I said I would check with a lawyer and speak to a few contractors to see if you can find one that will finish the job and at what cost.

As I said in the beginning of my response I and others really need more info as to the scope of the work to tell you if the timeline you gave is reasonable. You can post any further info in this spot so everyone can follow the problem.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


Hello, this is Meranda with Angie's List.

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. While it may not help speed up the process right now, you should definitely submit a review on about your experience so other consumers know about it. You also may find help in this article from our Newsroom about what to do when a contractor screws you over.

As an added benefit of membership, when you submit a review with a grade below C, you may be able to go through our Complaint Resolution process. In that case, one of our staff members will contact the company on your behalf to try to reach a solution/resolution for you.

If you need more help, you can always reach out to our member services team: 1-888-944-5478 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Good luck!

Answered 6 years ago by Meranda


As usual, Don's advice is on the mark.

If you do plan to terminate him, several points to bear in mind:

1) you will eventually still owe him (taking into account amounts already paid) for the value of the work adequately performed, though of course that amount may be in dispute, and may be subject to deductions for the added cost of getting a new contractor to finish the work

2) if you have not formally put him on notice threatening termination, documenting the reason you are considering this action, you have to do this first before terminating him. As I see it he is probably not in gross violation of your contract and is still working (albeit slowly), and as Don says, if there was not an established start and end date (or job duration), then he may not technically be in violation at all - no firm ending date leaves his time for performance indefinite. Technically the "contract" would not be in effect without a "meeting of the minds" on scope, cost, and schedule - but since the job is underway an implied contract is in effect anyway, based on his bid and any contract documents you signed.

3) if you arenot satisfied with his response from item 2), the termination method may be spelled out in the contract - if so, follow it, otherwise there are formal methods to use under state law - usually notification by certified return receipt mail, with so many days (typically 7-14) for him to respond or argue it. In the termination letter you should ideally make a proposal for the amount you think you owe on the job (total), list amounts already paid, and make an offer for what the final payment at termination will be - or amount you want back from him, if you think you are overpaid at this point in time. Also address the issue of outstanding materials on order. You need to work this out with attorney and maybe Architect, taking into account estimated amount to complete the work, which might reduce your payment to him if more than his contract amount to complete.

4) Before starting another contractor on the work, you will need to document the heck out of the job condition left by the other contractor, and you definitely need to get your attorney in the picture here. Generally, before changing the conditions he left it in, you should have an outside expert like an architect assess the work adequacy and status and document it, in case of suit. For completed work, you might also want or need a building inspection by the city. In many jurisdictions you also have to give the contractor the opportunitiy to document the conditions before you change them, otherwise you are destroying evidence crucial to the case.

5) Again, talk to attorney, but before bringing in another contractor, you should first file a claim with his bonding company to get the work done under his Bond.

6) If cabinets were ordered, you may need to get them into your hands (assuming they pass inspection for condition and dimensions, presumably by new contractor or architect) and either finish payments to contractor for them, or get order transferred to you and you pay direct to the supplier - in either case you need a supplier lien release.

7) By the time this issue is done, you need to one way or another (through settlement agreement or court order) get a lien release from the contractor by time of final payment/settlement/court action, whichever way it goes.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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